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worldwide club guide: seoul

nightlife in seoul

The nightlife in South Korea’s capital can be fun but there are some issues to be aware of – apart from in specially designated tourist areas bars and clubs shut their doors at midnight, most public transport stops at 12:30 am, taxis have a 20% surcharge from midnight-4 am and while Korean-style clubs usually don't have a cover charge, they require patrons to buy a minimum amount of drinks or side dishes (anju). If you’re in a large group this is fine, but if you're alone or with only one club buddy, it can be expensive.

The Itaewon area is a bit seedy but as a designated tourist area it’s one of the best places for late night entertainment and most venues here do not require the purchase of anju. On most weekends there’s a crowd of mostly foreigners hanging out on the "Hill" behind the fire station until well after 3am. I’m not recommending joining this crowd, just pointing out an option…

While Itaewon is popular, I prefer the Hongdae area for quality clubbing. Fans of electronic music (trance, progressive house and breaks) should head to M2 (377-18 Seokyo Dong) which often features international guest DJs and always has an up-for-it party atmosphere. There’s an advanced lighting, sound and video set-up and three bars wrapped around a large dancefloor (with raised platforms for exhibitionists). The lounges are stylish and the crowd is mainly fashionable young locals with a sprinkling of models and celebs to add some sparkle. It gets absolutely packed on weekends, so arrive early to guarantee entry.

If you’re into hip-hop then ST 102 (360-18 Seokyo-Dong) is a good place to party. The crowd is mainly Korean and come wearing do-rags, dreads and baseball hats turned sideways. The stark black interior and graffiti wall give it an underground vibe and the place rocks during live performances.

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