Itaewon is considered an exotic part of Seoul by Koreans, and it's best known for the great number of foreigners residents living there. After the Eighth U.S. Army was stationed in Itaewon in the 1950s, foreign official residences were also located here. Itaewon then developed into the unofficial foreigner residential district. Later in 1997, more foreign restaurants and shopping areas were opened and the entire area was designated a tourist attraction by the government. Many different cultural communities exist in Itaewon and the area is sometimes referred to as a "foreign country" in Seoul. It's also famous as a place frequented by celebrities such as G-Dragon, Yoo A-In, and Yoo Yeon seok. Spend a day having fun in Itaewon, a neighborhood beloved by Hallyu stars.
Studio Concrete - Bada Restaurant – Lua Lounge
Course 1: A Different Side of Actor Yoo A-In
Hangangjin Station is just 15 minutes from Itaewon's main drag, yet the area is quiet and secluded. Yoo A-In’s hideout is located right here. Yoo A-In is a member of the "10 million club," the 10 million is a reference to the number of tickets a film sells. Yoo A-In was the hottest young actor of 2015 in terms of popularity. He starred in the drama "Six Flying Dragons," and the films "Sado," and "Veteran." He also heads the Studio Concrete, a gallery and cafe that is located just a 2 minute walk from exit 2 of Hangangjin Station. Studio Concrete's red brick building stands out and is easily spotted.
Studio Concrete is headed by Yoo A-In. He had always loved art and wanted to create a space where young artists could work, develop their ideas, and show their creativity. Studio Concrete's artists are a collaborative group and they were all born in the 1980s. The artists thought up the gallery's name. The building is a typical old, run-down structure of the neighborhood, northern Hannam-dong, but it's been reborn as a place of creativity and art.
Studio Concrete is mixture of gallery, library and cafe. An interesting part of the Studio Concrete is that there is no wall between the gallery and cafe. Therefore, you can order a drink in the cafe, then enjoy it in any part of the building while enjoying and appreciating the artwork. Even if you're not a huge fan of Yoo A-In, you can see the talent and skill of Seoul's young artists here, so it is worth visiting Studio Concrete.
Address : 162 Hannam Road (Hannam-dong), Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Telephone : +82-2-792-4095
Operating Hours : Weekdays 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Website : www.studio-ccrt.com
Course 2: A Favorite Restaurant of Many Hallyu Stars – Bada Restaurant
Budae-jjigae (sausage stew) is a spicy dish made with Spam, sausage, baked beans and kimchi. It is a dish with ingredients from various cultures, befitting of a place like Itaewon, where many cultures co-exist. Bada Restaurant specializes in budae-jjigae and it's located between Hannam-dong and Itaewon Station. This restaurant has been selected as one of the top 3 budae-jjigae spots in South Korea and it's well-known as a "must visit" restaurant. When you enter the restaurant, you can see autographs from Hallyu stars such as G-Dragon, Girls' Generation and more.
The signature dish at Bada Restaurant is Johnson Soup. It's similiar to budae-jjigae and has the same ingredients, but Johnson Soup also has cabbage and cheese. There is also more Spam and sausage in Johnson Soup so the flavor is less spicy and more savory than budae-jiggae. With hot soup and a bowl of rice, you can endure all kinds of cold weather!
Address : Hannam-dong 743-7, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Telephone : +82-2-795-1317
Operating Hours : 11:30 a.m. ~ 10:00 p.m. (Closed every first and third Monday of the month)
Course 3: Wine and Moonlight - Lua Lounge
Keep walking toward Itaewon station from Hannam-dong and you will see that there are various coffee shops and galleries along the road. Along this road you'll see the Line Friends Store. The Line messaging app is Asia's most popular messaging app and Line is famous for its adorable emoji and characters. The Line Friends Store, which sells merchandise with characters from the app, is located near the Lua Lounge. The Lua Lounge is right next to the 119 Safety Center. On one side of the 119 Safety Center, you'll find the Line Friends Store and on the other side of the 119 Safety Center is the Lua Lounge.
Lua Lounge opens in the evenings and it is operated by one of the beloved actors from "Reply 1994," Yoo Yeon seok. The word "lua" from Lua Lounge means moon in Portuguese. The lounge is located on the 6th floor and the rooftop. Thus, you can enjoy the moonlight and a night view of Itaewon with a glass of wine at Lua Lounge. Moreover, if you are fan of Yoo Yeon seok, you may see him here quite often. Yoo personally handled the interior design for the lounge and every ornament, even the smallest decoration, was personally chosen by him. You can really get a sense of his style and interior design sense when you visit Lua Lounge. Enjoy the romantic atmosphere with port wine, risotto and other dishes that are not easily available in Seoul's markets and eateries.
Address : 47 Usadan-ro, 6th floor, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Telephone : +82-2-797-1237
Operating Hour : Weekdays, 18:00~2:00 a.m. Weekends, 18:00~4:00 a.m.
Website : https://www.facebook.com/luaitaewon