Clubs in Seoul

Last Updated: September 20, 2012

The Seoul club scene has exploded in the past 5-10 years — there are now literally dozens of clubs to chose from. They are generally divided into two categories: the pricey and exclusive megaclubs in Gangnam and Apgujeong, and the cheaper but more down-to-Earth clubs in Hongdae and Itaewon.

The Best Club In Seoul?

Since everyone has different taste in clubs, it’s hard to recommend the “best” club in Seoul. For most people, that would be one of the clubs in Gangnam / Apgujeong. This area is home to Seoul’s trendiest party spots. Clubs in this area are big, have massive sound systems, and bring in top name DJs from around the world. But that also means they’re pricey—most clubs have a cover charge of W30,000, and drinks usually run W15,000 and up. The music is primarily house, electro, and trance.

The girls are, well, hot—you’ll see a lot more stunning girls here than you will in Hongdae or Itaewon. (Not trying to ostracize our female readers here, but I don’t usually pay attention to how hot the guys are so I can’t comment 😉 ). The girls in these clubs are also tend to have expensive tastes, be a bit snobby at times, don’t speak much English, and a lot of them have had plastic surgery. I’m not saying that to be judgmental, just honestly trying to give an accurate picture of the scene you’ll find here. Everyone is dressed very stylishly, and the bouncers won’t let you inside if you’re not. Basically, this is the Beverly Hills of Korea.

[On a side note, if you’re looking to meet girls in Seoul, my friend Dan wrote a guide specifically for dating Korean women. The man has probably had more success with Korean women than anyone else I’ve met, so I’ll just defer to him on that subject.]

Some of the more notable clubs in this area are (newest to oldest): Octagon, Ellui, Eden, and Answer. Unfortunately, the clubs are rather spread out, so if you want to bounce from one club to the next, you’ll have to take a taxi.

These are without a doubt the hottest clubs in Korea. But if high prices, strict dress codes, and upscale megaclubs aren’t your scene, then read on.

Clubs in Hongdae

Hongdae is in an area surrounded by several universities, so the crowd here tends to be younger and the venues tend to be cheaper. The crowd is very, well, college (that’s the best way I can think of to describe it 😉 ). You’ll also find a great variety of music here, from electronic to hip hop to live rock and roll. There are a lot of foreigners that hang out in this area.

There are over 3 dozen clubs, and they’re all within walking distance of each other. On the last Friday of each month is “Club Night”, where you can buy a pass for something like W20,000 and gain access to almost every club in Hongdae. The lines can get ridiculously long for the more popular clubs, but with over 30 clubs to choose from, you’ll have options.

Some of the more popular clubs are Mansion (electronic), M2 (electronic), NB (hip-hop), Joker Red (techno), Harlem (hip-hop), Cacoon (mix of electronic and hip-hop)… Really, too many to list.

You can get here by subway — just come out exit 2 at Hongdae Station (line 2) and follow the crowd.

Clubs in Itaewon

Itaewon is a nice middle ground between Apgujeong and Hongdae. Itaewon used to be a pretty grungy, dirty, “foreigner” district, but in the past two years there has been an effort to revitalize it, and some would argue that Itaewon is currently the hottest scene in Seoul. Itaewon used to be an area where most Koreans were afraid to go at night, due to a reputation given (fairly or not) by the antics of some U.S. military personnel, but these days New Itaewon is viewed as trendy and up-and-coming.

Most of the nicer venues are on the Hamilton Hotel side of the road, which some people have dubbed “New Itaewon”, while most of the venues on the opposite side of the road continue to maintain Itaewon’s previous, less-than-ideal reputation. For that reason, Itaewon has a pretty good mix. There are cheap, grungy hip-hop clubs right across the street from more upscale venues. That said, you’re not going to find Apgujeong-quality here, but it is kind of a middle ground.

Some notable venues are Club Volume (outside of the “main area” of Itaewon, but still technically in Itaewon) and Club Rococo — these are the only two “megaclubs” outside of the Gangnam area, but this means they come with a price tag similar to the Apgujeong clubs. Club LUV is another favorite, which is a smaller, more intimate and “underground”-feeling club. There are also a few gay clubs in Itaewon, which are the only gay clubs in Seoul if I’m not mistaken. In general, Itaewon has enough variety to choose from that it will probably cater to everyone’s tastes.

To Sum Up…

All in all, if you’re going to be in Seoul for a while, you should definitely check out all three areas. If you want to check out the megaclub scene in Apgujeong, you should probably stick to one club for the whole night due to the high price and difficulty of transportation. The Apgujeong clubs are big and busy enough to keep you occupied throughout an entire night. So if you’re here long-term and really want to digest the Seoul club scene, spend a night at each of the major clubs in Apgu.

But if you’re short on time, you might want to check out Itaewon first to get more of a crash-course of the variety of options Seoul has to offer. If one of the more upscale clubs strikes your fancy, then you can spend the next night in Apgujeong. But if you find you prefer venue-hopping between the cheaper clubs, spend your next night in Hongdae.

Hopefully this has been a helpful overview of the club scene in Seoul. I tried to give a general overview to give you an idea of where you can find what you’re looking for. This page will be updated in the future to include more details, including reviews of the individual clubs and directions, so check back if you’re going to be here for a while. But really words can only teach you so much — so get out there and see it for yourself!