Seoul is very gay, but most visitors have no idea. Yes, you can easily find information about Homo Hill here. But that’s the easy part. And there’s a system. Most gay Koreans live a verrrrrrrrrrry different life than us openly gay Westerners. Unfortunately, homosexuality isn’t understood by Korean society. Yes, the super Christians protest day and night about the devil that is being gay, but the average Korean just literally doesn’t understand it. While younger people have traveled, are more open and know gay people, it’s still just not grasped by the majority of the population. They don’t even know enough about it to hate it.
Does this mean that Seoul is boring or lacking options? ABSOLUTELY not. It’s just that the rules are different. You can’t just go to any gay bar on a Tuesday and meet 20 people like you could, say, visiting NYC. Since most young gay Koreans live at home and work crazy hours, this means that weekdays are pretty quiet. They save their time for the weekend and GO WILD. Like until sunrise, lunch time. There’s no end.
Homo Hill also gets started late. Go at 10 PM on a Friday night and you’ll be severely disappointed and a bit pissed off. Wait until 1 AM or so and it’s PACKED. PACKED until SUNRISE!
Know your rules and you can have the best time of your life. I strongly believe Seoul nightlife is the best in the world.
There are countless blogs and mountains of information about the Itaewon and Homo Hill scene. Most visitors never even see Jongno, the real gayborhood.
Jongno by day is a mix of the old downtown business area coupled with tons of senior citizens gathering in Tapgol Park and surrounding areas to spend their days. At night, though, the gays come out and mingle in the street tents near Jongno 3 station and in countless bars hidden in alleyways with tiny rainbow flags. You wouldn’t know you were in a gay neighborhood save for the few queens and some tiny gay flags in bar windows.
Weekends, however, are a different story. The road with street tents is painfully 1,000% gay. You’d think the average Korean would see this, but nope. I once took a young straight couple there (the guy lived in Toronto for FIVE YEARS) and it took them about two hours to figure it out. Street tents go until sunrise and I have DEFINITELY closed it down before!
The street tents are absolutely slammed and full until sunrise. Tables are impossible to get, but I can make a reservation! I’ve been going to the same tent for two years now, so I just call the ajumma (old lady owner) and let her know how many and when I’ll be there. Works every time!
The bars in the surrounding alleys are always full and are definitely frequented by a certain set. Bears go to bear bars, those who love bears go to certain bars, and there’s even a Japanese bar for Koreans who love Japanese guys (and vice-versa).
Let me show you Jongno. There’s so much more to share, but then what good am I if I spill the tea right here, right now?!