Seoul’s best-loved music stores
Back in the day, record stores used to only play the good music. These music oases prospered in locations like Sanga Records in Apgujeong and Tower Records in Gangnam Station. At their zenith there were more than 5,000 locations. Although most of the physical stores disappeared as the music industry went digital, Hyang Music is still going strong in Sinchon since their doors opened in 1991. Kim Gun-hill, CEO of Hyang Music, was only helping the thenowner of the store in Dongdaemun in 1989, until he opened a store in Sinchon two years later. Upon entering through the doors, you can see one of the employees writing today’s new albums and artists on the whiteboard. The place is small, but it’s packed full of CDs, LPs and cassette tapes. Hyang Music carries a wide variety of domestic and foreign indie bands, as well as their exclusive live albums. Though their online mall makes up the majority of their sales, the Sinchon venue still remains the playground for music nerds.
At Rm360, you’ll get a taste of the thriving local DJ scene. This is the official record store of DJ Soulscape and of 360 Sounds, a cultural movement for young artists and trendsetters. Though the store has a diverse collection, it’s not just limited to records. There are t-shirts, figurines and magazines as well as a turntable and DJ booth. It’s a treasure chest for anyone who likes DJing, records and subculture. The crew mainly works in Hongdae but has a shop in Bangbae because that’s where their recording studio is located. Sometimes DJs and producers work at the shop so don’t be surprised if one of your favorite DJs checks out your purchases for you.
One of the few remaining record shops in Seoul, Gimbab is a relative newcomer, having opened in mid-2012. Its owner, who has worked in the music industry for years, meticulously curates the shop’s inventory. If you are a sucker for old music and LPs, the international collection of CDs, LPs, and artist merchandise will melt your dear vinyl hearts. Keep an eye out for their SNS feed to be the first to grab a hold of rare collections and items, and plan your visit ahead by checking in with their online inventory on the official blog.
Hoehyeon underground shopping center has an exceptionally high number of stores selling vintage LPs, cameras, and goods from the analog era. It’s shocking just how different the underground shopping center can be from the large and popular fancy departments a level away. There are nine different record shops in the area and Living Inc., which opened in the 60s, is the oldest. The original shop owner passed the store down to his daughter who now runs it with her husband, giving the Living Inc. a family feel. The couple also runs LP Love, a less hardcore music store, right across the hall. Whether you’re a Justin Bieber fan or vintage record collector, there’s something at the underground shopping center to suit your needs.