Two of previous The UOS Times magazines gave you the tour to India and Turkey. Unfortunately, those two countries are far from those of us who are in Korea. This time, in The Place, The UOS Times will present you a mini globe in Seoul; Itaewon. Almost all inhabitants of Seoul know about this unique place. Nevertheless, many of them do not visit Itaewon as many times as they would visit Hongdae or Gangnam as a common hang-out place. It is neither near universities like Hongik University or Kunkuk University nor famous for shopping like Myeong-dong or Sinsa. Better yet, Itaewon has unique characteristics such as its globalized atmosphere and exotic cuisines. Once you look closer, you can easily find good food and drinks and experience different cultures at the same time. Where can you visit in Itaewon? Let us take a walk.
Map of Itaewon-ro and Kyungridan-gil
Where to go in Itaewon?
Those of you who go to Itaewon for the first time might be unsure of where to go. You just need to remember two main streets: Itaewon-ro and Kyungridan-gil. In those streets, you can find most of the places recommended by your friends or bloggers online. If Itaewon-ro is like a beehive, compact and concentrated, Kyungridan-gil is more like an oasis in the desert, spread-out and scattered in terms of good places to visit. I suggest going to Itaewon-ro if you want to enjoy loud and hearty atmosphere and going to Kyungridan-gil if you want to enjoy a walk while occasionally encountering unique places. Then, let us take a closer look at what are interesting in Itaewon.
Many cultures in one photograph
Walk from Itaewon-ro to Kyungridan-gil
In search of interesting spots, I took a walk from Itaewon-ro to Kyungridan-gil. Along the way were many attractions, but mainly, multi-cultural aspects of Itaewon caught my eyes. Above Itaewon-ro is the smaller street where all the shops and restaurants are concentrated; as expected, the uncountable number of foreigners of various ethnicities was walking around. However, the sight of Santorini Tavern (Greek restaurant), the New York tailor shop, and Eastern One gift shop all behind lanterns for the Buddha’s Birthday was quite fascinating. Such multicultural view which was impossible even several decades ago is now in front of our eyes ever so naturally.
Looking at the map, the walk between two main streets seems boring. In fact, many of popular places are placed right at this point ? Standing Coffee, for instance, a take-out coffee shop which supposedly made Kyungridan-gil famous. Many there were, but one similarity was that most cafes had balconies for people to enjoy the outside view and weather. Sunglasses and books made the atmosphere all the more romantic and relaxing. I, too, stopped at Buttercup Coffee & Bakery shortly for a break and continued my way to Kyungridan-gil. Outdoor spaces at cafes are rarely allowed in Korea, and Itaewon is one of few places where you can enjoy the sunlight. Grab this chance!
Arriving at Kyungridan-gil, you might feel like you are at the wrong place since it is too empty and is not “trendy.” However, if you walk along the road a bit more, you will find various places of different cultures. First special little shop is Nowa Polish Pottery whose entry was as adorable as the potteries inside. The potteries sold at the shop, all handmade and directly imported from Poland, bore a different type of beauty in them from Korean potteries. Second place that pleasantly surprised me was the 1st Salam Bakery with Arabic and Turkish sweets such as baklava, bakajo, assabe, ajuwa, and so on. Made by a native baker, the sweets were so rich in flavor that I could undoubtedly tell they were of quality. There are more attractions along the road such as an open gallery called the Garage, a Filipino market named KC Philippines, and Olea Grocery where you can buy different imported goods including the famous Campbell’s.
If you are unaccustomed to chatty cafes or romantic restaurants, The UOS Times recommend you the three following places! They all are at Itaewon-ro. First off, in Seoul Pub, you will find hearty atmosphere where people - acquaintances and strangers - enjoy open conversations with each other with bottles of cold beer in their hands! You can play billiards if you want to; Seoul Pub has pool tables ready at all times. If you want real Austrian cousin and draft beer, visit Chef Meili. Christian Meilinger, the Austrian chef, will greet you with authentic dishes and drinks from his country on the second floor. Chef Meili has a rooftop terrace where you can enjoy the sunlight or moonlight looking over Itaewon. Sausages he serves, in particular, are like nothing you have ever tasted before. Want to serve your friends those delicious sausages? You can easily buy sausages, cheese, and beer from a small shop on the first floor. I assure you, you will feel the need to purchase. Lastly, 3 Alley Pub is a homey bar where you will fit right in. Its atmosphere is so relaxing and cozy; you can see old men enjoying their drinks leisurely and lusty young people hanging out and laughing loudly any time you go.
It is true that Itaewon is less accessible than other popular regions because it is not located near universities or work places. Nonetheless, Itaewon is worth a visit. How about trying new things such as eating exotic dishes? Travel the world at Itaewon, the miniature globe in Seoul. If you get a chance to communicate with foreigners, you might get to hear their amazing life stories outside of Korea. Enjoy different cultures within Korea and be reminded of how beautiful and special Korea is among them.