Seoul Shopping – Itaewon

After visiting Namsangol Hanok, I headed out to Itaewon, the expat populated area of Seoul. With a naval base nearby, it’s known for its international selection of cuisine and crowd It was a pretty overcast day, and unfortunately when I emerged from the subway, it was pouring!

The good thing though, is that I found a tourist office conveniently located just outside the subway gates, and got myself a map and some recommendations on where to eat as I was FAMISHED.

The view from my seat at Busan Galbi. Managed to steal some free wifi, and there was a crazy guy yelling at policemen across the street

I found my way to Busan Galbi, which is conveniently located a short distance outside of Exit 2. It was pretty empty when I reached, and I sat on a balcony area enjoying the cool weather and a drink of water. Galbi is basically Korean style beef ribs, and with the slight chill from navigating through the pouring rain, I opted for the galbitang, which is galbi served in soup (or for Singaporeans, think of it as Korean Bak Kut Teh).

All that for lil' ol' me! the odd burnt rice-water closeup on the right

As with all Korean food, I had lots of additional kimchi side dishes served with my galbitang. Rice was also served with the galbitang in a claypot which they scooped out into a bowl, not particularly unusual, but what puzzled me was that the waitress then poured some water into the clay pot, stirred it up with the scraps of burnt rice left, and left it on my table to sit. She returned after awhile, and indicated that I was supposed to eat this burnt rice-water mixture with the kimchi. Little bit odd, would have been nice if she had used the soup though, that would have been awesome tasting, because burnt rice-water tastes like… burnt rice-water.

Welcome to Itaewon!

After this super filling lunch (for just 8000 won!), the rain still hadn’t abated, so with my trusty umbrella, I deided to walk around. I walked the back alleys, and there sure were a lot of international dining options! Bet it gets pretty exciting at night.

Since it was raining, there really wasn’t much to see along the road, and overall it was just a bit miserable. The shopping here is pretty well hidden – I found an indoor market place, as well as an underground indoor market! The shops can be found in the alleys behind the main street too, which I explored when the rain stopped.

2 shops I loved - Kim's Boutique (also has a branch in Samcheongdong) and Maybe (would be nice if it was a little bit cheaper! I didn't buy anything in the end but great range!)

Itaewon’s supposed to be pretty famous for leather goods and counterfeit stuff, and because there’s an American Army base nearby, sizes cater for the larger sized women too. Hopefully I can go back there one day during better weather, and perhaps check it out more throughly!

Getting There:

Itaewon can be accessed via Subway (Itaewon station, Line 6). Check out the shopping map from the Korea Tourism Organization here to give you an idea.

Around the area:

  • Around Itaewon:
    • Leeum Samsung Museum of Art – I wanted to check it out but the rain really put me off… I wanted to see this as a contrast to all the traditional/old museums that I’ve been seeing. My 1-day pal Terrie mentioned that everything here was either very old or pretty recent, which sounds like an intriguing mix!
    • Seoul Central Mosque – the only mosque in Seoul
    • National Museum of Korea
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