SEOUL, South Korea — Hongdae, a neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea, is known for its vibrant nightlife and indie music scene.
By day, it’s a shopping and café mecca. By night it’s a crazy, alcohol-fueled playground. What’s easy to miss — and not even many Koreans living in Hongdae know about — is that hidden in plain sight, there are also secret lesbian clubs where women can gather and be themselves without fear of judgment or discrimination. “Hongdae is the lesbian area of Seoul,” my good friend blurted out when I told him over dinner.
He’s been a resident of Hongdae for more than seven years but had never noticed. Most Koreans don’t know any LGBTQ people as Korean society is conservative and not accepting of homosexuality.
Hongdae’s reputation as a more free-thinking, hipster haven makes it a perfect location for openness — albeit in private. In South Korea, homosexuality is not illegal, but it is not widely accepted, especially in more conservative areas of the country.