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SEOUL: Bars, Cabarets, Clubs, Discos & Karaoke

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SEOUL -- area code (82-2)

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Bars and Clubs


      Seoul has hundreds of gay bars spread around a handful of neighborhoods, but most tourists become familiar with Itaewon, a foreigner-friendly enclave that seems to have people from every country on the planet wandering around, along with many American and Korean soldiers. The gay heart of Itaewon, nicknamed "Homo Hill", has seen an explosion of foreigner-friendly, upscale gay bars, in a convenient location. English and other foreign languages are spoken by most of the bar staff and customers in Itaewon.

click for our interactive map of Itaewon

        136-6 Itaewon 1, Dong Young-San Gu, Utopia Map, 3785-0834, 011-9256-7361, email. A beautifully designed gay chill-out bar in the thick of Itaewon's nightlife zone. From the Itaewon Subway Station exit 3, walk straight ahead one block and make a right, then turn left at the next intersection. You'll see a sign for Almaz on the right side of this uphill lane about half a block up. Walk along the stone path to the entrance. Large picture windows open onto a pleasure garden of granite formations with charming rock pagodas below willowy trees. The name means "the treasure" in Arabic. The current owner, Micky, has built a wooden deck and furnished it with tables and chairs. Now it's quite likely the best place in Itaewon to enjoy the night air. The music is fresh and funky, with the volume kept at conversation-friendly levels. This comfortable and welcoming bar is a casual, cool space to chill. 용산구, 이태원 1동, 136-6
        Utopia Map, 798-0578, 017-216-1140, email. A cozy modern bar next to Queen and across from Soho and Why Not?. From the Itaewon Subway Station Exit 3, walk straight ahead one block and make a right, then take the 2nd left. You'll see a sign for Always Homme on the left side of this uphill lane about half a block up. A popular pre/post club meeting place. Super friendly staff speak English and some German and Japanese. Barman Sean and waiter Moon can provide helpful info on the local scene. Owner, Paul, also runs Why Not?. Exceptional selection of fine wines, spirits, fresh juices, and quality coffees. Crowd is a combination of expats, tourists, and young locals. Open nightly from 8pm-ish until dawn, and afternoons on Sat and Sun. Utopia Member Discount
    • OWOO (Nordic Lounge) (mixed) UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013, UTOPIA VISITED APR 2012
        4/F, 127-1 Itaewon Dong, Young-San Gu, Utopia Map, 790-6610, email. From the Itaewon Subway Station Exit 3, walk straight ahead one block and make a right. OWOO is in the building on the corner, across from the fire station. Press the gold button in the elevator to go to 4/F. Gay-owned OWOO is a northern European styled Nordic lounge bar. A cozy and comfortable place for everybody including gays, lesbians and straights. Management said as of Apr 2012 the crowd was 80% G&L and busiest on weekends. Utopia Member Discount
        Utopia Map. Located next to Always Homme and across the street from Soho. Quite small with half of the space occupied by a bar with bar seating. Against the wall opposite the bar is a long wall shelf with more stools. It is nicely decorated, with friendly bartenders. A good place for a drink for singles or couples, but not great for groups since there is no table seating.
        Located on Homo Hill between Trance and Always Homme, Utopia Map, 793-1290, email. From the Itaewon Subway Station Exit 3, walk straight ahead one block and make a right, then take the 2nd left. You'll see a sign for Queen on the left side of this uphill lane about half a block up. Queen emphasizes cool, funky pizzazz and the decor is exactly that. Large windows look out over Homo Hill and a strip of glittery bubble chairs line the patio for good weather front row seating. Bar and lounge seating inside. Not a lot of room to talk or sit and have a drink, but if you want to dance all night it's a good place to go. Crowd is mainly younger locals (in their 20s) with a few westerners mixed in. Gets busy after 10pm and crazy packed on weekends.
    • Soho (mixed) UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013
        Utopia Map, 797-2280, (019) 357-3235, email. Adjacent to Why Not? and opposite Always Homme. From the Itaewon Subway Station Exit 3, walk straight ahead one block and make a right, then take the 2nd left. You'll see a sign for Soho on the right side of this uphill lane about half a block up. one of the main dance areas on Homo Hill, complete with a stage and stripper poles. The VJ plays the latest (mainly American) dance hits/remixes with video showing on numerous monitors around the club. The clientele is VERY mixed both as to orientation (gay, lez, bi, straight, other) as well as ethnicity, with it being the one of the most popular LGBTQ night spots for foreigners in Korea. English speaking staff.
    • Trance UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013
        B/F 136-42 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-Gu (see map), Utopia Map, 797-3410. On Homo Hill, next to Queen and opposite Why Not?. From the Itaewon Subway Station Exit 3, walk straight ahead one block and make a right, then take the 2nd left. You'll see a sign for Trance on the left side of this uphill lane about half a block up. Take the stairway down to the small, black box basement. Good music and dancing. Packed late at night and on Fri and Sat nights when they have a drag show. Friendly staff, English speaking. Cruisy. Local and foreign patrons. Lots of grabbing when it gets crowded. 용산구 이태원동 136-42
    • Why Not? UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013
        137-4 Yongsan-Ku (see map), Utopia Map, 795-8193, email. From the Itaewon Subway Station Exit 3, walk straight ahead one block and make a right, then take the 2nd left. You'll see a sign for Why Not? on the right side of this uphill lane about half a block up. House music draws the dance crowd after midnight until dawn. Upscale local/foreign crowd with higher ranking soldiers, embassy workers, foreign English and educated, well-dressed Koreans. Very nice staff who make conversation with everyone and seem to be having a genuinely good time. The club plays American pop remixes, techno and some house. Open late. Busiest between 12:30-2:30am. Highly recommended for visitors. Some lesbian patrons as well. 용산구 이태원 137-4
    • Wunderbar UTOPIA VISITED APR 2012
        B/F 130-4 Yongsan-Gu Itaewon 1-Dong (opposite the Irish Wolfhound pub), Utopia Map. From Hamilton Hotel, cross the street and walk straight down the hill and take the first right turn. Wunderbar is half a block down this lane, on the left side. Take the stairway at the back of the parking garage down to Wunderbar. Modern, white and clean decor. Mostly Korean, Japanese and Chinese customers in groups, but everyone is welcome here. It's a nice, lounge ambience with cocktails, beer, wine and snacks. Open nightly from 9pm until the early morning hours.용산구, 이태원 1동, 130-4


      Jongno is Seoul's biggest gay enclave, with more than a hundred clubs and venues located in the center of Seoul in the Nagwon Dong neighborhood to the north and east of Topkol Park (Independence Park). The majority are quite small and serve a traditional Korean clientele, now mostly mature. But, Jongno is changing with the times and newer additions to the gay neighborhood tend to be larger, more open and more international in outlook. During the day the neighborhood is known for musical instrument shops, traditional arts and crafts stores, tea houses, and the nearby Insadong shopping road. In the evening, the lanes and alleys of this densely packed, low-rise area, become filled with food tents, tipsy salarymen, and thousands of gay men going to and from their favorite havens. If you have a Korean friend along to translate, you might like to visit one of the traditional soju bang, serving snacks and Korean and Chinese-style liquer. But if you're alone, try some of the bars listed below where you'll be at ease with a more international gay bar system and friendly, English-speaking staff to welcome you.

click for our interactive map of Jongno

    • 4 Season UTOPIA VERIFIED APR 2012
        Nak Won Dong 102, 02-765-4242, 02-765-4242, 010-2309-2335, email. Coffee, beer, whisky, cocktails and other beverages. They can help you find other gay bars, saunas, gay cinema, and jjimjilbang (cruising spaces) in the neighborhood.
        2/F, 34 Donui Dong (confusingly the building is now numbered 24, but stairway is just to the right of the building with the large rainbow colored Popcorn sign), Jongno-gu, Utopia Map, 3672-3362, email. Opposite side of street from Jongo 3-ga Subway station Exit 4, in the same building as Tomato karaoke. Modern, warm and cozy gay cocktail lounge. Very friendly and comfortable venue with a neighborhood feel. Korean, English and Chinese languages are spoken here, so, for foreign visitors, it's a good place to get updated information about gay culture in Korea. Calm and dim lighting, pop music mixed with chill-out tunes for a chance to converse with friends. Crowd is late 20s - 40s. Busiest weeknights before midnight and late on weekends. Open nightly from 8pm until early morning. Utopia Member Discount
    • Barcode UTOPIA VISITED APR 2013
        Jongno, Utopia Map, 02-3672-0940, email. Take Jongno 3-ga Subway Station Exit 3 and make a U-turn when you come out onto the street. Round the corner at the intersection and Barcode is in the next building (you can easily spot the Barcode sign). This friendly gay bar welcomes visitors from around the world. A nice, western style bar with a modern, masculine interior (black walls). The bar is L-shapedand there are also tables for groups of people and couch seating. The beefy owner and his staff speak English very well and are pleased to fill you in on the gay scene. Reasonable prices on many kinds of wine, whisky, beer, and cocktails. The patrons - who tend to be more white collar, bearish and manly types - are mostly in their 30-40s and are happy to mingle with foreigners and exchange stories and laughs.
    • Friends UTOPIA VERIFIED APR 2012
        766-5334. Mature gay Korean men.
        4/F, Utopia Map, 070-7620-6610, email. Coming out of Jongno 3-ga Subway Station Exit 5, look at the opposite side of the street for a small lit sign of a white silouette of a stag head. Sister of the main branch in Itaewon, this club became instantly popular with Jongno's Gen-Y crowd (20 and 30-somethings) who mostly congregate at the tables in groups. A cocktail lounge with snacks, the environment is modern, incorporating wood textures, and feels more like a restaurant than a lounge. Pop and K-Pop beats keep the pace uptempo. Once-a-month party exclusively for OWOO's Facebook friends. Open nightly until early morning. Most crowded on weekends. Utopia Member Discount
    • Lovestar UTOPIA VERIFIED APR 2012
        070-7593-1600. Big, nice interior with terrace. Crowd is bears for bears.
    • Shortbus UTOPIA VISITED APR 2013
        Jongno, Utopia Map, 070-8887-1976, email. Take Jongno 3-ga Subway Station Exit 3 and make a U-turn when you come out onto the street. At the corner building at the intersection and you can easily spot the Shortbus sign on 3/F. Take the stairway up to 3/F. This gay cocktail and wine bar has beautiful, contemporary architectural design. Music is a mix of lounge and house. Friendly staff speak English, French, German, Japanese and Korean. Crowd is in their 20-40s. Open nightly from 7:30pm until the wee hours. Utopia Member Discount


    • Macondo Bar
        332-5753. Reported to be popular with locals and expats. Latin music and snacks.
        2/F, 52-144 Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu. A cosy western style bar. There is a nice looking bartender who can speak English well.
    • Queer-Bar
        33-17 B1 Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Utopia Map, 333-9225. Check their website to get directions and see the bar's logo, because there's no sign: just the violet logo to guide visitors. It's a nicely decorated basement space with friendly, English-speaking staff. Drink prices are fairly reasonable. Some basic snack dishes are also available. It's a small space, but it includes a central stage where they have performances at their monthly party.

      Comments from Utopians:

      "Just Do It Bar transgender bar, Utopia Map is about 325m west from Exit 8 of the lime-green line Sinhon Station (there are two Sinchon stations in Seoul). Turn left off off Sinchon-ro at Crocodile club and walk downhill (really a wide alley) two small blocks (you will see the Just Do It neon sign after the first block). If you drive, I highly suggest parking or parking garage (they are every where on the main roads surrounding the station). Taxi drivers do not know the mini-block streets, so if you taxi, find one with a sign on his door labeled "interpriter" or "interprit services provided" and get him to drive you to Sinchon Station Line #2 (cost me US$4 to taxi from Sinchon Station to my hotel located near Seoul Station at 5:30am). The upstairs main bar looks swank (open bar with view of street from 2/F and three back, behind screen booths for privacy); it might hold 20-24 people max. Red/blue light, quiet/soft music that allows for conversation. Wood panel bar and business-like/conservative atmosphere. There is a hostess (Cindy) and bartender (Mina) and everpresent manager (Zina; who manages both Just Do It and Ladies Club). The upstairs bar is expensive (like W$9,000 for a Korean bottled Budwiser); they cut me a discount and charged me W$7,000/bottle since I bought four. Only food is standard bar snacks (nuts, pretzels, chips), but they are complimentary (because the drinks are expensive). The upstairs attracts the after hours business man, who gets a chance to sit with a lady and buy her drinks (or them both drinks). I was the highlight of the night, being the only caucasian...it was like flies on fly-paper. I even came out ahead on my bar tab (all the men buying drinks paid down my tab and I even had some credit). The basement ladies-only bar had plenty of seating (for about 40) and a small dance floor. The downstairs bar at least offers Cass for W$4,000. They also serve fruit platter and hot appitizers (W$15,000 per platter). The main negative I did not like, was being charged to use their ladies-only changing room (they do have a nice changing room with racks of clothes, wigs, make-up for use...W$5,000 to use the room and anything in there). As a visitor, you can change downstairs and go up to Just Do It or stay downstairs and chill (about 85% of the ladies that came in did so as men and changed there and stayed in the basement). The hostesses/bartenders/manager and maybe two ladies that came in after me, are full time CD/TV or pre/post-op TG. Downstairs was welcoming and provided the owner/manager/hostess to earn their credit back on me...they labored hard to get me drunk (I ended up drinking three beers, two rum and cokes and a glass of wine; but over a five hour period and eating I kept them at bay). I highly recommend it as a place you can be free, however, you will have to wash/clean what ever your wearing (wig, clothes, etc) because of the smoke. Out of 5, I would give Just Do It (both parts) a 3.75. I made good friends there, so I will probably go back just to say 'hi,' but not to drink." -- Robbie, May 28, 2013



        B1 #127-3 Itaewon Yongsan-GuItaewanno St, Yongsan-gu, Utopia Map, 792-6662. Upscale gay bar and lounge. The menu is fairly large including whole bottle sales of white and red wine and champagne, plus the usual cocktails, bottled beers and a good coffee and juice selection. The music is hard, deep, electro-house with some Korean pop and gay club music mixed in. Busiest between 3-5am.



    • Lettee UTOPIA VERIFIED APR 2012
        742-0024. Famous karaoke. Busy late evenings.
    • San Marino UTOPIA VERIFIED APR 2012
        764-2406. Near exit #5 of the Jongo 3-Ga subway station.
    • Wallpaper UTOPIA VERIFIED APR 2012
        745-2449. Famous for karaoke. Busy late.


    • Adam
        2/F Daewon Bld, Gosan-Dong 543-3, Ansan-city, Kungi-Do. Subway Line 4 (from Seoul), Jungang Station.

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