Seoul, the buzzing hard-working, heaving drinking capital of South Korea. For an energetic city break, Seoul offers so much, from street markets, palaces, temples to skyscrapers and slick shopping. Seoul is a hub of energy & enterprise with over 20 million people busy at work.
Gay Seoul has two main areas, Itaewon district’s adeptly named ‘Homo Hill’, a foreigner-friendly entertainment district and ‘Jongro-3, an almost exclusive gay Korean party street. Expect the parties to start late and finish even later, most guys head out after 11 pm and many of the clubs don’t start to empty until 5-6 am.
For gay nightlife, Itaewon is the favorite among visitors. Homo Hill refers to the collection of gay bars and clubs which are in the Itaewon district. Itaewon is also the international hub of Seoul home to many ex-pats so it’s hardly surprising that the gay area is also international.
Seoul’s sauna and cruise club scene is relatively small and while most are open 24 hours most saunas are busy from early evening until the small hours. Most of the saunas and cruise clubs are located in the two main gay nightlife hubs, Itaewon’s Homo Hill and Jongro-3. Similar to nightlife most of Seoul’s gay saunas don’t get busy until late which is around 2-3 am and when guys start leaving the clubs.
Many gay travelers who want to party choose to stay in Itaewon, the center of gay Seoul. With the subway closing around midnight and taxis, while reliable available are relatively expensive, this areas offers a great level of convenience. Itaewon is also well connected with easy MRT access, a very central location and many great options for eating both high end and budget food.
South Korea in general is a sexually conservative society. While Korea has never had laws against homosexuality, it dose not mean it’s a sign of tolerance or acceptance. Like many countries, attitudes are changing, especially within cities and among young people. Many gay Koreans choose not to reveal their sexual identity to colleagues and to family members. Equally, same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not entitled to the same legal protections available to heterosexuals.
All male citizens of South Korea must complete two years of mandatory military service. Upon joining the military men take a “psychology test” which includes questions regarding sexual preferences. Recruits who are homosexual can be classed as having a “personality disorder” which can result in being institutionalized (a person who becomes a long-term patient or prisoner of the government) or dishonorably discharged. In 2010 the issue has been appealed to Korea’s constitutional court, as of 2016 no final decision has been made by the court.
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