EXO member Baekhyun had his much anticipated solo album release in the month of July with his title track “UN Village.” The saucy and romantic lyrics describe Baekhyun wanting to take his lover to “Hannam-dong UN Village hill,” so they can get away from their busy lives and explore their romance together. Fans living outside of Korea may not understand the significance of the location Baekhyun describes in the song, so let’s take a look at UN Village, and some of the eccentricities the Hannam-dong neighborhood has to offer.
Hannam-dong lies within the district of Yongsan-gu in Seoul. Located in central Seoul, Yongsan, similar to Hongdae and Myeongdong, is known for being a district with heavy tourist traffic. Within the district lies Itaewon, a famous foreigner hotspot in Korea. It is also home to Namsan (Seoul) Tower along with Namsan Tower Park, and the National Museum of Korea.
Exploring the greater areas of Yongsan is definitely a must for anyone traveling to Korea; you can experience the views of Seoul from the top of Namsan Tower and then head down into Itaewon for some delicious food. Itaewon is well-known for catering to an international palette; it is home to many foriegn restaurants including Italian cuisine (Section A) and even Indian cuisine (Taj Place).
Deeper into Yongsan we find the Hannam-dong neighborhood, an area that since 2010 has become well-known for its trendy, ritzy atmosphere and streets lined with boutiques, cafes, and bars decorated to make any millennial swoon. As per Baekhyun’s lyrics, UN Village is a gated community of luxury villas on a sweeping hillside, allowing residents a top dollar view of the Han River and mountains of Seoul. A luxury apartment on this street can cost upwards of $2.5 million USD [source].
Fun fact: Hannam-dong is named for its proximity to both the Han River and Namsan tower.
For those of us who have yet for Baekhyun to sweep us off our feet and take us to a luxury villa retreat, there is still plenty to do in Hannam-dong that doesn’t require a padlock code.
NCT members Johnny and Jaehyun’s vlog “JJDate” is referred to by fans as their “Yongsan tour vlog,” in which they visit a number of tourist hotspots in Hannam-dong. Their first stop being Oneinamillion cafe, a trendy spot adorned in millennial pink and serving up Insta-worthy coffee and cakes, they even give you a second cup to take home as a souvenir. The second stop being Blue Square, a culture complex dedicated to showcasing performing arts but it also includes a massive public library, any bookstagram lovers dream. In the vlog, Johnny and Jaehyun explore the library and discover plenty of places for aesthetic pictures.
More good news for music lovers, Hannam-dong is also home to a fabulous record store, Vinyl and Plastic. The two-story store is a massive space that holds vinyl records from artists all over the world and even has some iconic movie soundtracks on vinyl, such as Interstellar. The second floor is mostly comprised of jewel case cds from international artists and packaged albums from K-pop artists. This store actually had some incredible and rare finds in their K-pop section, including the Essay Version of Jonghyun’s Story Op. 2 album, which has been out of print since 2017, and it was marked at its original price.
Just by walking the streets of Hannam-dong, you can take a peek inside the delicately decorated boutiques lining the streets. Huge, intricate art pieces decorate their walls, and the soft, warm light from exposed lightbulbs hanging from the ceilings cast the stores in an orangey glow. Complete with dark green plants and oddly shaped mirrors, the bountiques of Hannam-dong truly tie together the neighborhood in a stunning, millennial pink bow.
The Yongsan and Hannam-dong areas are rich with beautiful and memorable attractions that any tourist or local would swoon over. Although there are neighborhoods in Seoul that offer a similar vibe such as Hapjeong, Hannam-dong carries not only a glamorous but an influential vibe because of its location in the heart of Seoul.
If you have a taste for the finer things, and you’re willing to spend $8 on coffee, Hannam-dong is the place for you.
Cover Image: Baekhyun (SM Entertainment)
Written by Justine Shaffer