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Korean transcription(s)
 • Hangul
 • Hanja
 • Revised Romanization Itaewon
 • McCune–Reischauer It'aewŏn
Itaewon featuring Seoul Central Mosque
Itaewon featuring Seoul Central Mosque
Country South Korea

Itaewon (Korean: 이태원, IPA [itʰɛwʌn]) refers to an area surrounding Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It is served by Seoul Subway Line 6 via Itaewon, Noksapyeong and Hanganjin stations. About 22,000 people reside in the district and it is a popular area for residents of Seoul, tourists, expats and U.S. military personnel.[1]


The word Itaewon derived from the name of a government-run inn in the Chosun dynasty. Nowadays the area is known as Itaewon because of its abundant pear trees, the Chinese character meaning "pear." According to ancient records, the area was also written using other hanja transcriptions, such as 李泰院, and 異胎院.

Local attractions

There are many restaurants in Itaewon serving cuisine that are not widely available in Korea, such as those from India, Pakistan, Turkey, Southeast Asia, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and Mexico.[2] Essentially, it's known as "Western Town," reminiscent of many Chinatowns in Western nations.

Itaewon, along with Insadong and Seoul Tower, is one of the most popular places in Seoul for tourists.[3] Major hotels such as the Grand Hyatt and local landmark Hamilton Hotel are here as well as dozens of shops and services aimed at tourists. High-quality leather products are sold at reasonable prices (though haggling is expected) as well as traditional Korean souvenirs.

Counterfeit goods and clothing items are ubiquitous and of varying qualities. Some authentic goods that are only produced in Korea for the international market, as well as some authentic imports are also available. Itaewon is known for its clothes makers who produce custom-made suits.

Aside from the local businesses, there is a rich community of business owners, including a pie shop owner from the U.S.A. (Tartine), authentic American burgers, a wine bar, an Austrian delicatessen (with an array of cheeses and meats), a veterinarian/pet groomer with an excellent reputation, a chiropractor from Oregon, doctors and nurses, pharmacists and grocery shop owners.

Many foreigners in Korea reside within or near Itaewon, as well as some of the richest Korean businesspeople, including Lee Kun-Hee, the chairman of Samsung group.

Gyeongnidan Street

Itaewon Gyeongnidan-gil

In Itaewon there is the multinational Gyeongnidan Street. It is in the middle of Itaewon's elementary school district. There are many exotic restaurants alongside the street.[4]


  • Global village festival
  • Halloween festival
Halloween festival in Itaewon
Halloween festival

In popular culture

Korean singer-songwriter JYP (Park Jin-young) and Yoo Se-yoon's hip hop duo UV released the song "Itaewon Freedom" in April 2011.[5] The title alludes to (and the lyrics celebrate) a common Korean perception of Itaewon's foreignness and open atmosphere, in contrast with conventional Korean culture.[6] The popularity of the song and its music video inspired a parody cover song and video from the girl group Crayon Pop in 2013. Both videos were partially filmed on location in Itaewon.[7]

Revitalization Post 9/11

Itaewon is the commercial district closest to the Yongson Garrison of the United States Forces Korea (USFK). In 2001, Itaewon was most known for the seedy bars and prostitution parlors that catered to the foreign soldiers and servicemen based in Yongson. After 9/11, all military bases were put on lock down with strict curfews imposed. As a result, many of the bars closed down. Coffee shops, trendy bars, and fusion and international fare restaurants opened in their places; turning Itaewon into a popular district for young, worldly Koreans and foreign residents. It now hosts an annual Itaewon Global Village Festival, cementing its reputation as an exotic, multi-cultural Gangnam.[8]


See also


  1. ^ Lai, Ah Eng; Collins, Francis Leo; Yeoh, Brenda S. A. (2013). Migration and Diversity in Asian Contexts. ISBN 9789814380478.
  2. ^ "Things To Do In Itaewon". 2018-08-16.
  3. ^ Government, Seoul Metropolitan (2010-02-02). "Seoul's best 100".
  4. ^ Government, Seoul Metropolitan (2014-09-18). "Soul food of Seoul: Seoul Dining, A DELICIOUS EPICUREAN JOURNEY".
  5. ^ "[New Releases] UV". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  6. ^ Kim, Chan-hee (2011). "The Cultural Identity of Itaewon" (PDF). Yonsei University. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Crayon Pop takes to the streets for parody MV of 'Itaewon Freedom'".
  8. ^ "Seoul's Red-Light District Turns Trendy" – via

External links

  • Official Seoul City Tourism :Itaewon

Coordinates: 37°32′24″N 126°59′31″E / 37.54000°N 126.99194°E / 37.54000; 126.99194

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