Itaewon has a reputation as Seoul’s ‘foreign’ area. Standing next to U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, it has long catered to the off-base needs and urges of military personnel, gaining a sleazy reputation in the process. Many South Koreans were afraid to set foot there until a few years ago. Nowadays, it’s home to foreigners from everywhere but Antarctica and draws huge crowds of young South Koreans thanks to its international restaurants and nightlife.
And now, a large chunk of it has been earmarked for redevelopment. The proposed Hannam New Town District 3 will see the razing of today’s Bogwang-dong, a dense neighborhood in Itaewon of predominantly low-rise red brick buildings and narrow streets. Stretching from Seoul Central Mosque to the Han River, it has traditionally been a low-income area where sleepy corner shops, butchers and perma-makeshift market stalls run by South Koreans rub shoulders with Arab and Turkish restaurants and grocers, and hipster boutiques.