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Travel & Resources: SEOUL

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SEOUL -- area code (82-2)

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General Information

    Seoul is clean, sleek and modern with an excellent public transportation system and champagne taste in all things trendy and fashionable. The cheap airport train from Incheon International Airport is 43 minutes direct to Seoul Station where you can connect to other parts of the city by subway. Gimpo International is even closer to the city center.

    If you're looking for flavors of old Korea you can visit some of the temples and palaces that dot the huge metropolitan sprawl, as well as the arts and crafts neighborhood of Insadong with its galleries, street vendors hawking traditional foods, and old Korean buildings turned into restaurants and inns.

    Itaewon, an international enclave, was, until recently, firmly rooted in 1950s America with its GI Joe (and Jane) US military presence and old time "juicy girl" bars (a nickname that sprang from overpriced juice drinks that one had to buy bar hostesses). These days the funky old shops and residential streets are being quickly replaced with trend-setting designer boutiques and world-class cafés and restaurants (especially the flashy new east side of Itaewon). Itaewon has an active gay scene and dozens of restaurants owned by local gay entrepeneurs. There are also more than a hundred small bars located in the center of Seoul in the Nagwon Dong neighborhood to the north and east of Topkol Park (Independence Park) which is on Jongno Avenue. Other areas with some gay life are Apkujong, Kangnam, Myongdong, and Shinchon.

    But, while Seoul wears thoroughly modern make-up and South Korea has some of the strongest legal protections for equal rights, underneath, Korean society is still very much tied to conservative "Father Knows Best" values of a bygone American era along with the spread of the kookiest sorts of intolerant Christian cults. All this is changing fast, of course, and Korea's capital city is on a bullet train to the hip-hop future. Catch a ride soon, as the vestiges Seoul's past are quick becoming Disneyfied (those terribly fake looking beards and mustaches on the Gyeongbokgung Palace "guards" for example).

    The population of Seoul is over 10 million and almost half a million Utopians live here. Most of them meet online through the usual cruising websites and you'll find quite a number of foreigners from around the world, including young and hot US soldiers, looking for encounters with you.

  • Seoul Gay Scene Updates message board
  • Lesbian listings
  • Men in Seoul message board

    Navigating around Seoul is easy with our Utopia Map:

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Organizations


Popular Spots

Accommodations


Bars and Clubs


Discos


Karaoke


Massage for Men


Meeting Places

    • Cinemas
        There are at least several gay DVD theaters open in the Jongno 3-Ga area. If you are looking for older men, with the odd young businessman type, there's one just a block north on 'Mary's Alley,' off the narrow street just east of Topkol Park. The former East Gate of the park (usually closed) opens right into the plaza. Now it's occupied by old men with their wares laid out on blankets, food vending stalls and fortune teller booths. The one theater is on the north side of this plaza (look for the black X on the glass door and climb up to 2/F), but the better one is a short walk north on the street, just east of this little plaza - continue north, cross the next street, and continue on just down the little street to the east of the musical instrument market (turn right at the two telephone booths at the foot of the long stairs going up to entrance and then back down). Just where the long stairs come down on the north side, turn right down the small street and walk down a block or so to the DVD sign. Take the steps to B/F. This has a younger crowd and has much better gay flicks as well as some private and semi-private rooms for more intense action. The towelettes, condoms, lubricant and water are all free. While they all vary in popularity, videos displayed on the screens, size, facilities, supplies and age groups, the types of action going on in all of the theaters is quite similar. First, some petting, kissing and even more goes on in the seats, but usually the action is taken to more private areas as it heats up. Secondly, there is a lot of cruising and touching in the back of the theaters, aisles and hallways. More goes on in these darker areas, but for even hotter action, there are dark rooms that are semi-private, usually with curtains to provide a measure of privacy. Then, for the shy or those who want even more privacy, there are usually private rooms with a locking door and either a bunk or a couch and enough light to get a good look at your partner. You don't have to lock the door (some 3 and 4-way romps may spontaneously occur). And if you don't like the videos that are running, you can sometimes ask the attendant for your favorite genre (words like 'young twinks,' 'young Japanese,' 'elder Japanese men' or 'muscle men' are understood). The videos are all on computer and can be easily selected if the attendant is in a cooperative mood.
      • Jung-Ang DVD
          B/F Daewon Bld, Gosan-Dong 543-3, Ansan-city, Kungi-Do. Subway Line 4 (from Seoul), Jungang Station. Gay cruising cinema. Underground level acess through staircase and/or garage.


Restaurants and Cafes

      ITAEWON

      The trendy and bustling restaurant lane behind the Hamilton Hotel is packed with late night eateries that, as one local restaurateur estimated, are nearly 50% gay-owned. The spillover from the gay bars means that the venues and alleyways here are also prime cruising spots.

click for our interactive map of Itaewon

    • Buddha's Belly (Thai) UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013
        673 Itaewong-2-Dong, Yongsan-Gu, Utopia Map, 793-2173, email. On the food lane behind Hamilton Hotel.
    • BORIE UTOPIA VISITED APR 2012
        Utopia Map, 6012-3383. Fourth alley on the right walking west from Itaewon Subway Station Exit 1. Brunch (fantastic variety of eggs Benedict) and dinners. Cozy and homey environment. Attentive service. Handsome, young chef.
    • OKitchen (modern Italian) UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013, UTOPIA VISITED APR 2012
        Utopia Map, 02-797-6420. Fourth alley on the right walking west from Itaewon Subway Station Exit 1. Fantastic modern Italian cuisine made with the freshest ingredients. Inventive juxtapositions, flavor-intensive preparations, well-portioned so as not to overpower. Order a few dishes and share with friends.
    • Restaurant Lane UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013, UTOPIA VISITED APR 2012
        Utopia Map. This small street running behind the Hamiltion Hotel is packed with popular eateries and lots of gay patrons as well.
    • Tartine Bakery & Café UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013, UTOPIA VISITED APR 2012
        Utopia Map, 3785-3400. Second alley on the right walking west from Itaewon Subway Station Exit 1. They are halfway up the alley on the right. Homemade pies, cookies, New York Cheesecake, clam chowder, hot dogs with all the fixings, or chili con carne wuth cornbread. Closed Mon.


      JONGNO / NAGWON DONG

click for our interactive map of Jongno

      Sanchon (Korean temple cooking) UTOPIAN VERIFIED JAN 2010
        14 Kwanhoon-Dong Chongro-Gu, Utopia Map, 735-0312. Extraordinary traditional Korean vegetarian temple feast served in dozens of small bowls in the charming environment of an old courtyard home. All sorts of unusual grasses, herbs, fermented soy soups, kimchee, rice noodles, tubers, roots, seaweed, vegetable pancakes, garlic paste, and on and on. End it all with your choice of delicious teas and light rice puff sweets. Come a bit early for dinner if you want to avoid the more expensive seating with traditional dance show.


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