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Diversity winning Koreans back to Itaewon?

In case you didn’t see it, I’ll link NPR’s recent story on Itaewon:

Itaewon is a neighborhood in South Korea that locals used to avoid because it attracted a high number of foreigners, especially young American soldiers from the U.S. Army Garrison just down the hill. But Itaewon’s image has changed in recent years — it’s now a trendy hangout for young Koreans, attracted by its relatively liberal atmosphere in a culturally conservative nation.

No doubt Itaewon has changed a lot—lots of Koreans visiting on the weekends, including families and all the Gangnam girls doing the “Sex & the City” brunch thing. On our alley near Gyeongnidan alone, we’ve recently gotten a German bakery, a microbrewery and a Greek place. Things are certainly looking and feeling better.

That said, I do wonder how the people who actually live in Itaewon feel about the changing face (and faces) of their neighborhood. I’d be keen to see some survey numbers.

(HT to reader)

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  • http://www.zenkimchi.com/FoodJournal ZenKimchi

    Ah, I narrowed down where you live.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    OMG…. Itaewon is gentrifying… the horror!

    Reminds me of this:

    http://austinist.com/2008/03/12/king_of_the_hil.php

  • hardyandtiny

    When did Koreans leave Itaewon?

  • Avaast

    The prices they charge for brunch up there are simply outrageous. 20,000 for an eggs florentine (on average)? Oh well, it’s not as bad as Tartine and its rhubarb monopoly.

  • gbnhj

    If you ask me, it isn’t about freedom, despite what Van Wo-Young (non-Korean, or non-ethnic Korean, no?) says. And claiming the ‘Itaewon Freedom’ is being taken seriously, rather than being seen as a parody of an 80′s music video, is laughable.

    I think it’s more like how the district head described it: Koreans go there to look at the non-Koreans and eat non-Korean food. Not to interact with non-Koreans (except perhaps to try out their best ‘sohrry’ or ‘hello’). Instead, they’re there to shop, eat and look at the foreigners, and then head back home. Diversity, what there is of it, isn’t really ‘winning locals back’, but is simply attracting Koreans as a sort of diversion from their everyday experiences.

  • PineForest

    “It’s ok to go there again because I see lots of Koreans.”

    Same old same old.

  • Arghaeri

    aka Itaewon Zoo :-)

  • brier

    My take is Koreans who do visit itaewon are well traveled and wealthy, and want some trend positioning event for there facebook page. Every thing else is just background to what socail capital they can harvest.

  • hamel

    hardyandtiny: when they were banned from Nashville.

    Avaast: where do you get eggs florentine for 20,000?

    There’s a tiny hole in the wale (and on the sidewalk) place in Hannam that does eggs benedict for less than 15,000 but that is a rare exception.