The popular neighborhood and surrounding adjacent regions of Daehakro are well known as a center of creativity and culture. In addition to many cafes and restaurants found in the main Daehakro district, it’s also known as being one of Korea’s top places for performing arts. Numerous small to mid-sized theaters are found around the main Daehakro area in performing arts that encompass just about every genre. The romantic situational comedy performances are quite popular with couples and have been performed for decades now though the horror productions are highly sought out in summer seasons. Many of the serious and dramatic performances often bring in well-known television and film actors. The Seoul Theater Center, located just by Hyehwa Station, exit 4 is a great resource to see what shows are currently being performed and the staff will also be able to provide general information such as show times and theater locations. Unfortunately most of these productions are in Korean but be on the lookout for the occasional non-Korean or non-verbal performances around.
The number of live music cafes have significantly decreased in the area but a few are still found around in the area playing everything from indie to jazz. The Marronnier Park is a central location that’s located on the former grounds of the Seoul National University. In addition to being a popular meetup and hangout place, occasional street performances in music and dance are held here, especially on weekends. And while you can opt to grab a cup of coffee from any of the numerous chain coffees around, for a unique experience, try visiting Hakrim Dabang, a historic traditional café that has been operating since 1956. In addition to their main branch, they’ve recently opened a second branch in a beautifully renovated hanok on a side street just south and parallel to Daehakro-11 street. They are especially known for their Viennese Coffee and cream cheese cake but their hand drip coffee is also quite popular as well.
While Daehakro is lively on any given day, it takes on a distinctly Filipino flavor on Sundays when the Daehakro Philippine Market opens near Hyehwa Catholic Church. Sometimes referred to as Seoul’s “Little Manila”, numerous makeshift street stalls and carts open up here offering some favorite Filipino eats and snacks. Meat skewers, spring rolls, banana fritters, and even delicacies like the partially-developed bird embryo known as balut can be found here. Fresh imported fruits and vegetables are also a big draw here as are the toiletries, cosmetics, magazines and more from the Philippines.
For some history, pay a visit to Sungkyunkwan University which is one of Korea’s oldest universities and houses the very important Confucian Munmyo Shrine and Jongyeonggak, Korea’s first library. Just west of Daehakro you’ll find Changgyeonggung Palace, one of the royal palaces of Seoul with many interesting historic incidents having taken place here. You can also find buildings leftover in the main Daehakro area from Korea’s Daehan Empire and Japanese colonial occupation period such as the Daehan Hospital building next to the Seoul National University Hospital and the old post office on the Korea National Open University grounds.
You also don’t want to miss out on Naksan Park, which provides great views of the city and is dotted with the Seoul City Wall. While you’re up there, make sure you visit the Ewha Art Village to enjoy not only the many shops, cafes, and restaurants, but the many wall murals and art installations that makes it a popular place for picture taking year round. Please be mindful, however, that this is still a residential neighborhood so be respectful of the residents here.