Hip Hongdae

Named after Hongik University, Hongdae is one of those neighbourhoods that was once cheap to live in and given a new lease of life by artists and musicians until it became impossible to ignore. Gentrification followed and the upmarket brands moved in. Despite that, the area is still known for its indie music scene, urban art, independent clothing stalls, and vintage shops. The university is regarded as one of the top fine arts colleges in South Korea.

Whilst in the area I went to a vegan bakery/cafe for brunch.

I started the morning, however, by walking along the converted disused railway: the Gyeongui Line Forest Trail.

The original railway, the Gyeongui Line, was built by the Japanese in 1904-1906 and vertically joined the whole Korean peninsula. The line was used to launch Japan’s invasion of China. Branches were later added to the railway line, and it became Korea’s busiest line. The line split when Korea was partitioned in 1945.

The Forest Trail has reminders of its origins with remnants of the railway line, such as rails, statues, rail line supports, statues, rubble, and concrete. There have been talks about reopening the line to reconnect North and South Korea.

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