The best places to see live music in Seoul range from large-scale concert halls to intimate music clubs, all of which showcase the city’s dynamic performing arts scene. The Seoul Arts Center and the National Theater of Korea are great for enjoying world-class operas, musicals, classical concerts, and creative musical plays, as well as ballet, modern dance, and traditional Korean music.

    Live performances by globally popular K-pop groups and international singers are often held at the Olympic Hall in Olympic Park. If you prefer intimate music venues, head over to Itaewon and Hongik University – you can find many cozy bars where indie bands perform a wide range of genres, from jazz and blues to modern pop and hip-hop. Immerse yourself in the world of music by visiting Seoul’s most popular concert halls and live music clubs.

    1

    Olympic Hall

    A performing hall where you can enjoy exciting live stages

    A pop culture and arts performing hall in Seoul Olympic Park, Olympic Hall is perfect for concerts and other performances. What’s more, it is a new breed of cultural complex that features a large performing stage, a smaller performing stage, a permanent exhibit hall and a music academy. The large performing stage, which can accommodate around 5,000 people, frequently hosts concerts of famous Korean artists, K-pop idol groups, world-renowned bands and pop artists. The hall also holds omnibus recitals of major entertainment companies such as YG and SM. The small performing stage, Muse Live, hosts indie band concerts of various genres from rock and hip hop to jazz, reggae and electronica.

    The venue is designed for live concerts in many aspects from cutting-edge lighting to stages and sound equipment, which makes the audience and the performers on stage feel united. Take this opportunity to enjoy different kinds of music live.

    Location: 424, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

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    photo by Arne Müseler (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    2

    Strange Fruit

    A music hideout that inspires Hongdae’s independent bands

    Strange Fruit is not only a bar that represents Hongdae and a performing hall for independent bands but also the best place to still cherish the Hongdae culture for the past 20 years. The area surrounding Hongdae and Sangsu-dong is crowded with small cafes and bars where unique independent bands and musicians of various genres perform live music, which is why it is loved zealously by young people and foreigners. Known as the hideout for Hongdae musicians, the place offers unparalleled appeal from live performances by musicians that the audience can enjoy over beer or wine.

    Whether you stand in front of a band and let yourselves go to the musical beat or sit in a corner seat to listen to the music in a calm, relaxing manner, you will be able to fully savor the culture of Hongdae where you become instant friends with those who’ve come to enjoy the performances and musical worlds of these bands who represent the indie music scene.

    Location: 64, Wausan-ro 29-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Open: Daily from 6 pm to 1 am

    Phone: +82 (0)2-3332-919

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    3

    Boogie Woogie

    Harmony between Itaewon’s unique culture and jazz performances

    Boogie Woogie is a famous jazz bar on Gyeongnidan-gil, Itaewon where you can enjoy live jazz performances with classic cocktails, whiskey and a variety of snacks. Gyeongnidan-gil is a street where many foreigners used to live and is one of the city’s most popular dating and tourist spots as it features many unique restaurants, cafes and pubs. Every evening, performances are divided into two sessions and played in a captivating atmosphere that would have you feel as if you’re in La La Land. Here, fully savor the live music of famous jazz bands.

    Once you have a sip of a cocktail made by a bartender in liberated and exciting Itaewon, you will soon understand what it means to be intoxicated on the atmosphere. If you love the performance you’ve just watched, you can place some cash into an envelope on the table as a token of appreciation.

    Location: 21, Hoenamu-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 6 pm to 2 am (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +82 (0)10-2396-3050

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    4

    Club FF

    The cradle of indie rock bands evolving in the Hongdae culture

    Among many live clubs in front of Hongdae, Club FF is a rock music live club whose fan base is as solid as its history. As soon as you enter the club, you will be able to feel a rich, funky vibe unique to a rock performing hall. Like the Cavern Club in Liverpool and the Crocodile in Seattle, talented rock bands perform here every day. The club put a foreign rock band on stage for the first time and even discovered a new band that turned super famous. This is where almost all modern rock independent bands perform. Seven teams take the stage each weekend making the line-up of bands solid. The younger generation and foreigners especially go crazy over modern rock, punk and emocore.

    Starting at 11 pm every day after live performances end, a DJ-led party begins so show your dance moves to the powerful sounds.

    Location: 12, Wausan-ro 17-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Phone: +82 (0)2-3141-0626

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    5

    All of Rock (A.O.R)

    Leader of Hongdae performing arts staging the present/future of rock & roll

    A.O.R is a famous performing hall located in front of Hongdae at which all rock & roll indie bands would love to play. As it is a place where you can watch performances of dynamic young rock bands and experienced veteran bands alike, many young people and foreigners who love to enjoy the Hongdae culture visit A.O.R. Many of the bands that perform here are those who maintain original rock & roll tones and, at the same time, express youth in various musical techniques and, thus, reflect the spirit of the times. At A.O.R, you can enjoy rock & roll that will captivate the audience who dance to and breathe in the energetic rock music and passion of the bands.

    Dive into the excitement of live stage by watching performances of post-hardcore bands that combine heavy core sounds and sensible melody lines as well as trans-hardcore bands that add style on top of powerful alternate metal music.

    Location: 4, Wausan-ro 33-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Phone: +82 (0)10-550-08711

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    6

    National Theater of Korea

    Korean traditional performances and contemporary arts performances

    Boasting a 70-year history, the National Theater of Korea consists of Haeoreum Grand Theater; Daloreum Theater, which is a small theater; Byeoloreum Theater where the performing stage changes; and Haneul Theater, which is a round outdoor stage. It is the country’s only producing theater that transforms traditional arts into contemporary arts and presents it to the world. The National Dance Company of Korea, the National Orchestra of Korea and the National Changgeuk Company of Korea, all of which are exclusive performing organizations of the National Theater of Korea, present innovative new works every year and, also, outstanding performing teams are invited from overseas as well. As Korea’s representative performance organization, it introduced and has been running the repertoire season program since 2012.

    10-month performance repertoires starting in September are announced so you can conveniently choose the performance you want to watch. Enjoy the National Theatre’s own special planned performances as well as those of various genres from ballet, plays and musicals to pansori. After watching a performance, take a walk along Namsan Mountain and Jangchung Park where the beautiful sunset awaits you.

    Location: 59, Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Phone: +82 (0)2-2280-4114

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    photo by Republic of Korea (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    7

    Jazz Story

    A romantic day enjoyed under incandescent lights

    Jazz Story is a live café with a romantic vibe where you can enjoy the sweet music of a house band. Velvet chairs under cozy incandescent lights, countless vinyl records and, even, a pile of drippings from candles are all parts of its special interior. A strange airplane and a tricycle are hung on the ceiling as if they are flying. Performing three times every night, the house band covers not only jazz but also pop, rock and, even, R&B. Cheers and applause fill the live café after each song making the audience and the band feel united. The band also takes song requests, so make sure to request a favorite.

    In addition to the performances of this band whose talents are well-known even in the entertainment industry, don’t miss the songs of the acoustic guitar singer as well as the soloist. Let go of yourselves just for a minute and try to soak in the romantic vibes and the joy of music.

    Location: 88, Hyehwa-ro, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Open: Daily from 5 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +82 (0)2-7476-537

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    8

    JJ Mahoney’s

    A bar where you can enjoy live music in a high-class atmosphere

    JJ Mahoney’s is a club-style bar situated inside the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The bar consists of seven different spaces including an island-style bar, a dance floor equipped with the latest sound and lighting systems, and a music room for live pop music performances. Many people visit for the live music that begins at 9 pm every day and its luxurious atmosphere. Countless global celebrities have visited the bar from Paris Hilton and Bruce Willis to Keanu Reeves and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    The classy old pop and ballad music of performing artists and bands that change every three months make your eyes and ears feel comfortable. Enjoy whiskey, cocktails and parties in this exotic space with live DJ music.

    Location: 322, Sowol-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 8.30 pm to 2 am (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +82 (0)2-7971-234

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    9

    Seoul Arts Center

    Where you can enjoy all kinds of live performing arts in one place

    Seoul Arts Center is the country’s greatest culture and arts center where over 800 performances of operas, plays, dances and musicals are held annually. Over the past 30 years, it has provided excellent performance and exhibition contents that have attracted over 50 million people. Seoul Arts Center features the Opera Theater where large-scale operas and musicals are played, Towol Theater that performs small-scale operas, plays, musicals and creative musical dramas of a variety of genres, and Jayu Theater whose stage can be transformed for experimental works.

    The large Concert Hall, which is designed in the shape of a traditional fan, is the main stage where world-renowned musicians often perform and, also, where you will be able to enjoy magnificent performances. Moreover, the Chamber Hall and the Recital Hall present not only performances like chamber music, ensembles, concours and recitals in which you can watch the musicians up close but also stages that showcase unconventional and extraordinary music.

    Location: 2406, Nambusunhwan-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from noon to 8 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +82 (0)2-5801-300

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    photo by Oskar Alexanderson (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    10

    Club BBANG

    Live café in Hongdae to thoroughly feel the appeal of live modern rock

    Club BBANG is a modern rock live café located near Hongdae Ttaeng Ttaeng Alley. From every Wednesday to Sunday, indie bands and musicians who belong to the club hold regular evening performances. It is also where small-scale creative cultural activities take place such as non-profile gallery exhibits and independent movie showings. The club actively offers opportunities to perform for newly starting bands and musicians. It has been a gateway for many independent bands and musicians such as Kiha & The Faces. In particular, shoegazing bands, which seek dreamy sounds, feeble vocals and extreme delicateness, and their modern rock tunes make this club even more special.

    Enjoy not only the live modern rock performed every day by four teams of young indie bands and singer-songwriters but also the passion-filled indie music world within the free, diverse culture of Hongdae.

    Location: 12, Wausan-ro 29-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Open: Daily from 6 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +82 (0)2-6081-1089

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