For many readers who binge-watched or got inducted into K-drama during the pandemic, the name Itaewon Class might ring a bell. The 2020 Korean series trained the spotlight on Itaewon, a colourful and eclectic neighbourhood in Hannam-dong, a district in Yongsan-gu in central Seoul on the north bank of the Han River. As Yongsan was also once home to a US military base, it is not surprising to know that Itaewon is a foreigner enclave in Seoul. Because of demand, there is concentration of bars, restaurants and nightclubs here that caters to an international crowd. While in Seoul, there may be days when you feel you have had enough of soju, galbi and kimchi. In that case, head to Itaewon for your pasta or mala noodles fix.
The Hannam area status as the cultural crossroads of South Korea and the rest of the world has actually been established the 14th century, as the area was part of Hanyang, the capital city during the Joseon dynasty. Therefore, Itaewon, and more so, Hannam, the area that surrounds it, has also drawn the cosmopolitan, creative and culturally inclined.
With so much to see and do, zooming into the right spots might be a tad tricky on a tight schedule. Let us share our top picks – from gastronomy to art and culture. Even if you feel you already know Hannam-dong, take a look at our recommendations as we cover places that have opened since the pandemic – which you probably have not have visited.