Destination: Haebangchon Fest

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Also called the HBC Fest, the Haebangchon Festival is a treat for eyes and ears, but mostly the ears. Featuring dozens of acts by foreigners living in Korea (and a few international acts), few events can bring so many foreigners together in one place – which might be a good thing for the sake of traffic. Blocking off traffic wasn’t an option, as the road leading uphill goes to the Seoul Tower and plenty of homes.

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Also called the HBC Fest, the Haebangchon Festival is a treat for eyes and ears, but mostly the ears. Featuring dozens of acts by foreigners living in Korea (and a few international acts), few events can bring so many foreigners together in one place – which might be a good thing for the sake of traffic. Blocking off traffic wasn’t an option, as the road leading uphill goes to the Seoul Tower and plenty of homes.

The Sejong Boys, featured at the New Phillies (AKA Phillies Downstairs).

The Guitar Hero contest over at Orange Tree – started a bit late, but still an interesting watch.

After meandering up the hill for some Korean grub, we headed back down to Haebangchon for some more music:

The only act featuring a fiddle (that I saw) – Luke Michielsen, over at Jacoby’s.

Haebangchon featured tight quarters all the way around – venues built for dozens tried to hold hundreds, while streets desperately needing sidewalks held plenty of foreigners while cars crept past an arm’s length away. The main attraction almost seemed to be the crowd itself. Where neighborhoods like Itaewon are where the majority of foreigners party, Haebangchon is where quite a few of them live.

Speaking of Itaewon, the Lady in Red and I headed there to end our evening:


The last band on at Rocky Mountain Tavern, Mirrorhouse, offered up some original rock. The near-overwhelming crowd in Haebangchon, however, did not walk the kilometer or so to Itaewon – or had already had too much to drink…

The biggest problem was the crowd – numbering in the thousands, it’s almost outgrown the space once dedicated to much smaller numbers. Next year’s Haebangchon fest may need to be held elsewhere for the even-larger crowd expected – but it’ll be a great party wherever it is. Another complaint was the almost complete lack of signage – if you’re new to Korea or had no idea where Haebangchon is, you would have been lost. While the website was great at providing information, printed flyers containing the same information were much more difficult to find.

I’m happy to say I went to the event, and it’s a great feeling to be surrounded by so many foreigners. I met up with quite a few people I hadn’t seen in months, and otherwise socialized without fear of a language barrier. The few Koreans around seemed to be pretty sociable, and otherwise part of the expat community. How’s that for an interesting reversal?

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks):

Ease to arrive:

Foreigner-friendly:

Convenience facilities:

Worth the visit:

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2010

This post was originally published on my blog, Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.




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