Links to useful open mic guides to Seoul:
10Mag.com is out-of-date in terms of its list, but it’s a good article to get a feel for the open mic scene in Korea in general.
Brad Spurgeon’s findings on Open Mics in Seoul
Seoul is so big and my time spent there on each trip is so limited – I stay one or night on my way to Mokpo in the south, and sometimes another night on my way back – that I have not been able to properly explore all the Korean musical venues. But the city has a vibrant expat community, and within that, a vibrant, if often ephemeral – open mic and jam scene. This expat community is bursting with struggling musicians and singer songwriters from Australia, England, the United States and Canada who work as English teachers on the side. They have set up open mics all over, with a high number in the Itaewon district, which is the expat centre of the city as far as I can make out. Like many places on my worldwide tour, in South Korea I have played at some places that are not on this list, but I cannot confirm still exist, or that I know have ceased to exist – such as the one at a bar called “The Local.” Here in any case are the ones I have attended and that are still in existence, and I will soon add a list of ones that I have heard of or had recommended, under a different category from those I have attended myself:
Monday – Tony’s Aussie Bar, 455-35 Itaewon-1dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea (South Korea) 140-858, Phone: (02) 790-0793 International: +82 2 790-0793, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in the heart of Itaewon, which is a highly agreeable, village-like area of Seoul that is also full of foreigners, but remains quite Korean as well, this has become one of the best open mic/open jams of Seoul. The bar itself is minuscule, and is owned and operated by Tony, of course, an Australian who also plays the drums. He eventually found his own penchant for jamming on his practice drum set in the bar when the place was closed turn into a public open mic and jam session as passersby wanted to come in and join in. Despite the small size of the bar/restaurant, Tony has his drum set and room for a full band, and the idea is that musicians generally join in to play with the rotating members of the band ) ie, it’s more a jam to set songs than singer-songwriter open mic solo affair. The food is very good, too, by the way, so go for the evening and take in a meal of lamb and Australian wine….
Wednesday – Rocky Mountain Tavern, blues jam session, 210 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, 02 792 5392. Another bar located in the heart of Itaewon, this is a Canadian bar with a Canadian theme, and a decor that appears created to give the feel of being a log cabin in the rockies. The bar also has offered a comedy open mic, but now has this musical open mic on a nice little stage on the top floor, and with lots of sound equipment, drums, etc. It accepts everything, from full fledged bands to soloists with guitar and vocals – or if you want, just vocals.
Open mics that have caught Brad’s eye, been recommended, or generally appear to be worth attending, but that Brad has not been able to attend for one reason or another
Tuesday – DOJO Lounge, a classic open mic, starts at 10PM, 서울 특별시 용산구 이태원동 671 B1 , Seoul, Korea 140-200, Phone 02-790-1334, Email Dojolounge@gmail.com. Located in Kyungridan, which is the neighborhood across the street from Haebangcheon – where the above mentioned “The Local” used to be. Noksapyeong is the closest subway station and it’s all basically a suburb of Itaewon. “An intimate, underground venue were you find fantastic cocktails, great beers in a stylish brick laden industrial ambiance. It’s large windows create an illusion that you are not where you think you are,” according to its own description on Facebook. This open mic comes highly recommended by an expat musician friend of mine in Seoul, whom I met at The Local a couple of years ago. I was not in the city on a Tuesday, or else I’d have attended.