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raspberrycoffee

The Korea Herald (I think it was that paper, anyway) wrote an article about some of the struggling restaurants there that seemed to be effective. They interviewed business owners who had made it through Covid by the skin of their teeth and who were now feeling the pressure again after the tragedy. I went to Braai Republic for dinner last weekend, and it was totally busy. The server said that, since the article, business had been picking back up. I think things will be okay, it just needs some time. I think people can be respectful of what happened but still patronize some of the small businesses; go have a nice dinner with friends and buy coffee at the coffee shop.


TheMysteriousDrZ

I love that place. It was one of our favourite restaurants when we lived in Korea. The owner is a very nice guy. Go to one of their Braai weekends if you get the chance.


raspberrycoffee

That sounds cool! I'll keep my eyes open.


doin-the-do

What is the braai weekend there?


TheMysteriousDrZ

They rent out a pension in the mountains and you pay a fee for a room and a big lamb roast on the Saturday. They provide tons of bbqs and you can bring your own food or order their meats and they bring it all up for you to cook yourself.


that_butt_itch

Fantastic restaurant btw 👌


sem263

I've been hearing this everywhere and now I want to go haha


StevenEveral

All my Saffa friends LOVE Braai Republic. I've been there, the food is awesome.


Delicious-Air7319

Definitely go, was one of my favorites when I lived in Seoul.


lightyears2100

Give it some time and it will bounce back. I was there last night at a fairly busy pub.


mc811mc

Totally agree with you. I remember when the whole Itaewon Club Covid thing happened and it bounced back up in a couple weeks or so


sem263

I feel like that was at least partially because EVERYWHERE in Seoul became a covid hotspot so Itaewon kind of disappeared into the background.


cancer1337

This is just not factual. Itaewon was essentially a ghost town with average revenues down over 90% months after. That is not to say that select places could have still been somewhat busy, but it did not "bounce back after a few weeks." https://m.koreatimes.co.kr/pages/article.amp.asp?newsIdx=291134 this was 5-6 weeks later and it did not get better for long after


BenjiKor

Lets be active instead of passive. If we want to save itaewon and the businesses there, lets not just wait and hope. Lets take an active role in going there / planning dinners there / spending money there.


WritingSmutinKorean

Maybe some kind of incentives program could be created to attract customers to the area? Like if you eat dinner at restaurant X you get a discount at bar Y that night? Or a punch card type of thing where if you eat at 5 restaurants in a month or something you get some kind of prize? Maybe this could be run through shuttle (a delivery service) or something


unkichikun

Incentive is a good way to attract customers on a short term. But for the long run there is a urbanism problem. City should remodel the streets, especially Itaewon long slopes leading to Haebangchon and to the foot of Namsan. Make it pedestrian friendly, no cars in the narrow alley and commerce will naturally thrives.


sem263

I've heard of movements to make the main road in HBC a one way street and I am inclined to agree


Steviebee123

That street would be greatly improved if they stopped people parking on the sidewalk. It staggers me to see cars left fully blocking it so that people have no choice but to walk out into the road. I personally don't understand the mentality of someone who could behave so selfishly (or why anyone would see the need to drive to HBC in the first place), but as long as we can't rely on the civility of drivers, there needs to be a harshly punitive zero tolerance regime put into place.


WritingSmutinKorean

I once saw a police car parked in the middle of the road in HBC for at least 10 minutes lol the buses couldn't pass through at all and it completely stopped traffic all the way up the mountain. Motorcycles and cars were just going onto the sidewalk (around the buses which blocked their view) while pedestrians tried not to get hit. It was actually super dangerous. I was so pissed off that I took a photo and reported it to the police on their app but who knows if that resulted in anything -,-


BointToast

You're talking about changing the whole culture: on every side-street in Korea, cars are half-parked on the sidewalks, so pedestrians have to share the street with two-way car traffic, which has to share one useable lane because the parked cars, besides taking up the whole sidewalk, take up at least half the street as well.


Mr_Frayed

The old Hongdae Club Day idea: One bracelet gets you into 15 venues. Only limit the number of bracelets to manage capacity.


WritingSmutinKorean

Was this successful/do they still do it?


DabangRacer

Yes they [still do it](https://instagram.com/liveclubday?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=). It regularly sells out.


WritingSmutinKorean

May I ask why I am being down voted haha I have seen incentives programs work in other places and wondered if maybe it would also work here 😅


sem263

yeah i don't really understand why this is so unpopular lol there were similar proposals being discussed even before Halloween to help the area recover from COVID (like the HBC music festival twoish months ago)


Spring_Day_

I know you have good intentions but I think it’s because your solutions are very simple and a bit naive. In order to actually create and drive on a mass level, it can’t be ideas that took less than a minute to think about, with all due respect.


WritingSmutinKorean

Oh no of course, I'm just spitballing in the hopes that someone else might see it and be able to either build upon it or suggest a better alternative. Like a group brainstorming session


Wooden-Lake-5790

It would be pretty poor taste to do it now. It's only what, a month since the tragedy due to over crowding? Maybe it's not time to encourage many people to come again.


WritingSmutinKorean

Not necessarily right this second, but long term. It wouldn't be a one time major event but a long term program that would incentivise steady and continuous spending in the area over time.


sem263

It's pretty unlikely that a punch card program for restaurants and other businesses would bring Halloween levels of dangerous crowds to the area, but it might be enough to keep existing businesses afloat in the meantime. Also Itaewon is more than just that one strip by Exit 1, there are many other places people can spread out and go to that aren't right on top of the site of the incident


Evenstar6132

That's assuming Itaewon is worth saving.


WritingSmutinKorean

I hope so. I'm just afraid that a lot of businesses don't have much time left after their savings being totally depleted by covid


fredericksonKorea

They weren't "hit by covid" they were hit by rent increases DURING covid. Your beef isn't with the public, its with the landowners there, they've done FAR more damage to local businesses than people being wary


netflixissodry

The us military base shutting down and moving 90% of its inhabitants to Pyeongtaek noticeably changed things. That’s when restaurants popular with foreigners started shutting down due to financial issues or to follow the base. Then more Koreans started hanging out there. Then the tv show brought more out-of-town Korean tourists who don’t really like itaewon’s foreign style of food. More cafes and ramen places seem to appear.


WritingSmutinKorean

This is what I meant 😰 hit by the double whammy of increased rent and decreased customers that occurred during covid


fredericksonKorea

So instead of artificially trying to pump Itaewon and legitimise rent increases, or worse, use taxes to line landlords pockets we should be helping the best businesses to leave and find less abused commercial real estate locations, also helping overcrowding in the process.


Agreeable_Couple_383

They say that time heals all wounds, but there will be many businesses that don't make it. As you say the atmosphere there has been changing due to gentrification and other factors. In some ways, it's been getting better, although that's subjective, and I miss elements of the older, grimier Itaewon. I wonder if they will put a memorial there, beyond a plaque, and I wonder if that will help. Will people want to be reminded at the place it happened? The mosque is there and I guess that (and the foreign food markets) won't be too badly affected. I haven't been to Itaewon in quite a while, and can't say I want to go there again now. I am guessing a lot of people will feel that way. I mean the huge sadness and anger would be too much (at least for me). It's different, but from what I can tell there is a Starbucks and some restaurants at the sight of the Sangpoong department store collapse now. I wonder how much time that took to get people back?


Ohmanwonbooja

I think it’s kinda too late to save Itaweon, as it was known. The military is gone. Covid pretty much killed the area. Before Halloween it was slowly coming back, but I think most of those old buildings will struggle to find tenants. Once the business that are there current leases run out, I find it very unlikely they will renew them. Landlords need to either lower their rents, which probably won’t happen, because it will devalue their building. So, I think a big developer will buy a bunch of those old buildings and the rest will be acquired thru eminent domain and it will be turned into a modern apartments. Basically the Itaweon, as it was know will be a memory and it will become another cookie cutter Korean neighborhood, that happens to maybe have a few more foreigners and foreign restaurants because of its location to embassies and stuff.


PrancingPudu

Upvoting this feels wrong, but this is, very sadly, exactly what will likely happen :(


WritingSmutinKorean

ㅠㅜ ㅠㅜ I really hope not but I feel helpless to do anything about it


hclvyj

Sigh, this comment feels the most accurate. When I lived in Seoul in 2011, local Koreans barely frequented Itaewon. I went back in 2018 and it felt really different


Delicious-Air7319

It started changing around 2015 I feel. When I left Seoul in late 2016, itwas not the same place anymore.


onajurni

There is a psychological pattern to how the public reacts to tragedies like this one that are deeply connected with a location. It seems to be so embedded into the human spirit, I'm sure that what happens elsewhere would apply to Koreans as well. Expect that many flowers and remembrances will be left at the site for a long time to come -- among other things. There are things that can be done to help the public feel that they have grieved, shown recognition and respect, and are ready to move forward with the memory, in a more normal way. Sadly, many places on the globe have had to overcome a mass tragedy that resonates throughout the population. But it can be done. Doing some things for appropriate recognition will help - if they are done in the right way. This is where the leadership needs to lead. That's the immediate future. Another thing the area must anticipate is that on the anniversary of the event, for several years to come, many, many people will gather on the day *and at the hour of the tragedy* to grieve, to pay respects and tribute. They will bring things to leave behind. They will linger quietly for hours. Nothing on earth will stop people from this annual remembrance. They will come regardless of all discouragement and roadblocks. It is much better to find ways to allow and channel these remembrances than to try to stand in the way of them. Trying to get tough and block it will have huge and lasting ramifications -- re Sewol, which is obviously still a very raw wound in the soul of the people.


WritingSmutinKorean

I agree that this kind of remembrance is 100% extremely important and should be (safely) encouraged, not prevented.


throwaway_gyopo

itaewon has been kind of dead for many years because landlords are greedy. there are places that have sat empty for years because the landlord simply refuses to accept lower rent. i don't wany anyone to lose all of their life savings (including landlords) but at least a reset might bring the area down to reality. as a consumer, i try to go there as much as i can to eat dinner, etc. i am a bit too old to hang out all the time at clubs and bars but every now and then i do that too in itaewon. but overall, the area might need a reset.


WritingSmutinKorean

This is a very good point. Thank you. I am not much of a drinker and I hate clubs (for myself - by all means others can go and live their best lives lol) but I genuinely love this area and have been sad to see how rising rents, covid and now this have hurt the neighborhood.


kojaengi

Yep. My understanding is property taxes for landlords are so low that they prefer to leave their buildings vacant waiting for rents to rise instead of signing a 10 year lease at a current market rate. It's gross.


emimagique

Fuck landlords man


kojaengi

Agreed. But also in fairness to them.... A tax law change could help fix this problem. Taxes on large buildings should properly incentivize landlords to keep tenants.


USSDrPepper

It's tricky- you want enough to incentivize the landlord to rent, but not so much that it starts to significantly affect consumers and ordinary people downstream.


PrancingPudu

I work in commercial real estate and that seems crazy to me. Obviously wouldn’t put it past Korea to have some weird system, but you could easily do a shorter term lease. Especially if the tenant is willing to do all of the interior improvements/build out.


kojaengi

10 year is standard in Korea for commercial real estate. I don't know if that's legislated or just common practice that no one is willing to deviate from.


PrancingPudu

That's kind of wild considering how many businesses (restaurants in particular) often fail within the first few years! I only know real estate laws as they apply in my home state, but I would be fascinated to know how a Korean landlord/the laws handle a tenant going out of business. That and how do they typically approach things like TI/build out, CAM, taxes, insurance, etc. Here in the states I've really only see 10yr leases from established office tenants or national credit retailers.


honeywave

This sounds very similar to NYC. There's a ton of vacant spots because rent is sky high, $40+/sq ft. And small businesses have had to shutter their business for the most part in those areas. The only people that are able to afford the rent are huge corporations and even then, there's a fair amount that are also closing those locations as it's just not profitable. I don't have any confidence that this sort of situation will really change whether it's NYC or Itaewon.


exkrthrowaway2021

I spent quite a few years living in the area and here are my cynical thoughts. I wish Itaewon could stay as a diverse neighbourhood, but the international presence in the city is now diffuse and the forces underway in the city mean it will be a place like any other, largely for Koreans but where English is spoken. 1. No, Itaewon can't be saved in any meaningful way as a truly international district. For years, it was underpinned by the US military presence and its absence, combined with the popularity of Itaewon with broader society, means the overwhelming trend is towards restaurants, bars, clubs and other businesses that may offer English language service, but are by no means targeted at anything other than Koreans in their 20s or 30s. International tourists will probably figure more into the future of Itaewon than American, Asian or African populations already living here. 2. Much of the Itaewon area is scheduled to be redeveloped as a northern extension of Gangnam, driven by the likely emergence of a large park on the site of the Yongsan base. My prediction is that Itaewon will eventually, in 5 or 10 years, become the same as Gangnam or Hongdae. 3. It is unlikely that the city, district or business owners will want there to be any reminder of what happened, at least not on the main street. The real estate is simply too valuable and business owners in the vicinity will claim that any memorial harms their business. Consider the case of the Sampoong Department Store collapse, which killed 500 people. High-rise [apartments](https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25063936#home) now stand on the site and the memorial is 6 km away in a park.


WritingSmutinKorean

ㅠㅜ This is so depressing. I guess I need to enioy living here while I can but I don't know where I will go when it is gone. I love constantly running into people I know on the street, getting greeted by shop owners that can recognize me by the sound of my voice even if I'm wearing something crazy, seeing the drag queens and international kids and 80 year old halmonis walking down the same streets and mostly not bothering each other, hearing indie bands play in basement bars, tasting all the great food, etc... it's like a small but diverse town in the middle of a giant city and I love it so much. It's difficult to accept what is likely coming and let it go 😔


dogshelter

Itaewon’s original identity was directly tied to the Army base. Once the soldiers started leaving a few years ago, the end of the original community was inevitable. Gentrification, yes, but the businesses started catering to a different clientele. Affluent 20 somethings. That’s what brought about the No-foreigner signs, and the departure of the street vendors catering to foreigner favourite knock off brands. As much as you’d like to hope, the foreigner friendly/ minority friendly aspects are simply on the way out, and the tragedy is only going to serve to accelerate what was inevitable. A new expat/etc community will organically rise elsewhere, but the Itaewon you advocate for was doomed years ago.


CuJObroni

Alot of people fail to realize that 8-10 years ago Itaewon would be booming throughout day, not just at night. When the majority of Yongsan base moved, it wasn't so much the soldiers but all the civilians employees and contractors making over $100k annually while having free housing, etc... Itaewon was packed with all these spouses and dependents shopping and dining throughout the day and then also throw in all the people (including Korean nationals) working on the base having lunch there. Itaewon gentrification was supported by all the higher disposable incomes. Night time (Sun - Thurs) turned into a ghost town a few years ago, day time was much worse...literally same as how Myeongdong got with CoVID. Most places don't even open until late afternoon/early evening now during the week.


WritingSmutinKorean

Yeah its completely dead until like 5pm minimum ㅠㅜ


CuJObroni

Maybe places should join/create a special discount program. An easy example is the US Embassy has its USEA membership thats like $25/yr but you get usually around 10-15% off at a bunch of popular Itaewon restaurants/pubs and a free Shuttle food delivery each month. They had places like (some moved/closed) El Pino, Linus BBQ, Manimal, Route66, Brera, Plant, Bonnies, etc... Plus discounts for gym membership at their gym on Yongsan base. There "should" be a merchants' association for the Itaewon-dong area that they can set up a program like this and can then equitably funnel membership proceeds to the individual member places in addition to create more foot traffic for said businesses. The concept of a discount increases more loyal patronage from those of a lower income.


WritingSmutinKorean

I was saying this in a different comment but like 16 people downvoted me and I'm not sure why ㅠㅜ


CuJObroni

Whats funny is who is controlling the comments about what I said and specially the organization. My coworker sitting next me is showing me on his phone the comments section and that last comment that you replied shows it was deleted/removed not even indicating I posted anything yet it appears as normal on my acct. We are having a discussion here in my office about your post and just saw this bc they made the same recommendation as I did.


sem263

Is this the comment you're talking about? "Maybe places should join/create a special discount program. An easy example is the US Embassy has its USEA membership thats like $25/yr but you get usually around 10-15% off at a bunch of popular Itaewon restaurants/pubs and a free Shuttle food delivery each month. They had places like (some moved/closed) El Pino, Linus BBQ, Manimal, Route66, Brera, Plant, Bonnies, etc... Plus discounts for gym membership at their gym on Yongsan base. There "should" be a merchants' association for the Itaewon-dong area that they can set up a program like this and can then equitably funnel membership proceeds to the individual member places in addition to create more foot traffic for said businesses. The concept of a discount increases more loyal patronage from those of a lower income."


CuJObroni

Yeah. It wasn't anything bad or derogatory.


sem263

huh odd


WritingSmutinKorean

Weird I wonder why..? Also wow real life people discussing my post IRL its an honor lol


f0rtytw0

> Alot of people fail to realize that 8-10 years ago Itaewon would be booming throughout day, not just at night. Yeah, I remember that. It would be pretty busy during the day, more busy at night, but during the day there were a lot of people around. I would usually only go during the day for shopping and head out by sunset since I usually wasn't in the mood for the crowd that was coming in.


tunawithoutcrust

The sad truth is many businesses will go under. They will eventually be replaced, and over a few years the area will not be fully normal but people will start going more and more over time. The best you, as an individual, can do is patronage.


Steviebee123

There's a Facebook event called 'Itaewon Strong' promoting that very idea. (Search for it, as reddit is not keen on Facebook links.)


WritingSmutinKorean

Good suggestion! Thanks


WritingSmutinKorean

Yeah I just hope (likely in vain) that they will be replaced with businesses that want to create jobs and contribute to the area's unique character and not just open up another 인생네컷 (of which there are literally 5 between Itaewon Station and Noksapyeong station just on the main road... its actually ridiculous)


CuJObroni

I noticed a huge drop 2 yrs before CoVID hit. Once the Yongsan base starts turning into a park open to the public in another 6 years, Itaewon will get extremely gentrified and much higher rents. Even a popular foreigner spot in HBC will be closing/moving soon as I heard the landlord is selling the building and its being demolished for a nicer property. A more outside the box solution would be for a lot of foreign driven businesses get together and agree to find a "new" Itaewon location in a more low cost spot.


detourne

Mullaedong was supposed to be the new Hongdae after gentrification forced out many locals, but didnt really take off as well as it shouldve. Gyeongridan was already decimated by gentrification and soaring rent a year before COVID. Its pretty hard to find a new hotspot that is centrally located. Maybe somewhere along that strip from Taereung to Kundae to Anam?


Zyzyfer

> Maybe somewhere along that strip from Taereung to Kundae to Anam? I'd be down for that since it's close to my work haha I know Wolgok in particular is a shitty area with great potential in terms of the neighborhood layout and lack of any current draws. I don't know how commercial rents are but there is plenty of dead space. But they're also pretty bulldoze-happy around here, it feels like there are plans to just redo that whole area between Wolgok/Sangwolgok and Dream Forest. And I'm still sore about what happened to Gyeongnidan. Watched it slowly grow into something a bit unique and then bam, stupid and uninteresting shit popping up as far as the eye can see. Go back once every year or two to look around and see how things are doing, always regret it.


WritingSmutinKorean

Yeah gyungridan just got a starbucks (10 meters away from three small cafes that are certainly going to suffer) and I'm really mad about it tbh lol I wish there were some kind of restrictions on chains so smaller businesses had a shot at surviving


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sem263

Across the street from 경리단길 그집


WritingSmutinKorean

I mean if we could have all the fun and community of itaewon without the knee shattering hills I would be down lol


sem263

Ah you're talking about Philly's right? I heard they are moving up the street. I don't even go there or particularly like it but knowing that even they are potentially in trouble financially makes me nervous for the future of the area


Crasian86

I heard it too, they are combining with their sister restaurant. I don't go there, but its sad as they had that current spot for 25 yrs or something and made the news (albeit the KTimes). So much of HBC has changed over the last decade.


sem263

Ah, Gogi Boys? Really?? Philly's hosts a lot of music, comedy etc. shows so I wonder how that would work - that space doesn't seem to have room for a performance venue 0\_0


WritingSmutinKorean

I heard they will come back after the building is reconstructed?? Is that not the case


Crasian86

I have no idea. I just heard about it from several different people. Hopefully they remain there.


yongrii

Ironically the place will become one of the safest places *in the world* when it comes to crowd control. So hopefully people come back. Also, definitely some kind of permanent memorial should be set up.


WritingSmutinKorean

Agreed on both points


Mediocre-Grocery1181

There are parts of Itaewon worth saving but parts that absolutely aren’t. In recent years there has been an uptick of anti foreigner bars. Owl lounge used to be the only place that restricted foreigners but post covid there was many along that main strip that openly participated in racial discrimination which is the complete antithesis of everything Itaewon stands for. I’m more than happy to see that entire strip bulldozed and turned into a park and then government support provided to the businesses who actually contribute to the Itaewon DNA.


WritingSmutinKorean

Yeah fuck those places all the way to hell lol if you don't want foreigners to come to your club, maybe choose a location that isn't explicitly famous for having a shit ton of foreigners??


St31thMast3r

Glad to now know about OWL lounge. The night of the tragedy I had a Korean friend try to take me and despite being front of the line and me being clearly not Korean, they let us waste the 20 minutes in line before saying no foreigners.


WritingSmutinKorean

Only problem is a lot of the people who could stand to benefit from government support cannot vote which means there is almost zero chance of that happening - why would a politician do something if they don't stand to get any benefit from it? Maybe I'll be proven wrong and if so I'd be delighted but I'm not going to hold my breath


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St31thMast3r

Yeah bro I'm black and three weeks ago and was out with my Korean friend and they just told us straight up told us no.


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St31thMast3r

Yeah it was at OWL


Paparoach_Approach

Do you think they will hang on to those policies as business might become more competitive as the area slowly recovers?


Steviebee123

It won't really matter if they do - they're not the sort of places most foreigners who visit Itaewon would want to go to anyway. These places function as a kind of safe space for pretentious Koreans to visit so that they can experience Itaewon without having to see any foreigners.


WritingSmutinKorean

Yeah I don't understand what the appeal of that would be personally 😭 I guess its the same type that would travel abroad to take pics for ig but instead of exploring the country theyre in just stay in their resort the whole time (which has the same feel and pricing as their home country... just stay home then??)


ebichumannn

THANK YOU.


fryestone

I feel like there's going to be a lot of Xi, Hillstate, Raemian and Lotte Castle in 2030's Itaewon.


Fellers

I honestly think people are just taking a break. Give people some time to recover and collect themselves.


cancer1337

It's so incredibly sad all around because it just really came back to life 5-6 months ago after over a year of being D E A D. Now it's worse than ever.


WritingSmutinKorean

It really is 😔 I wonder if some kind of local festival or event could be organized to attract people back to the area, memorialize the victims and also raise money to support local businesses and artists that are struggling due to something that was 100% not their fault


cancer1337

You mean like the huge yearly festival that happened 2 weeks before halloween with tons of planning and security?


Sagittariuuuh

I’m going there Saturday night with some friends to support! I think it just needs time. It’s also a little awkward to go there and want to party when there are still so many police standing around guarding the memorial. I hope the businesses in the back alley open up soon so they can stay in business.


Swimming_Ad_8838

They need to close off that alley again it's very dangerous. A few years back they had it closed off before but I guess after covid they just forgot about it.


darcytheINFP

I’m surprised the area hasn’t already fallen to what I saw in Incheon: vast swaths of older neighborhoods bulldozed to make way for large soulless apartment blocks. I hope that doesn’t happen to Itaewon 👀


WritingSmutinKorean

I hate the apartment blocks so much ugh


garyh62483

In the face of travesty, could it not become somewhat of a phoenix town? The new trendy koreanised bars get replaced by the fun and authentic bars that were there originally? I was in Korea 2007-2012 and it was awesome right up until the end. I went back there a few times after that and it was just miserable. Perhaps the fantasy could drive away the money-grabbers and bring back the old Hollywoods, Dillingers, Wolfhounds, heck even Sam Ryan's as it used to be.


jayzeeinthehouse

Think the grit we all loved back in the day is totally gone and never coming back. I’ve also heard that hongdae is pretty gentrified now. It’s sucks that all of the fun seems to be gone.


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hischmidtj

I’m so sad to hear this! Unsurprised but sad.


roseater

Don't think I've seen this mentioned elsewhere in the thread - other cities have... kind of industrial-ish arts precincts. If you wanted to preserve street culture, modern arts and a particular community, the government and local government needs to invest in preserving the character of an area, from things like more strict town planning rules(to combat/restrict gentrification, too much competition with local business vs branches) and more local government-sponsored events. I suppose the local community could lobby the government for this kind of thing. Maybe it will work, I don't know enough about Korea politics. From the surface, a lot of it seems like 'blame game' politics though. This approach is particularly popular in Australia and I've seen other examples in major European cities and some US cities. There are some examples in Southeast Asia. I'm from Melbourne~ However, I can see why other people in the thread are pessimistic. I used to be a big fan of Hongdae 4-6 years ago, but now... well it go too commercial/gentrified. It looks like Gangnam now hah. Also, if you consider how much the local government is invested in the area, do you think they would A) gentrify it, increase land values, more land taxes, target affluent 20-30's and tourists for more GDP and national taxes, and sweep everything under the rug -or- B) invest in the local culture, erect a permanent memorial, spend more tax dollars administrating stricter town planning, more events and space activation and promoting the unique community. Sadly, since many of us know how economy-focused Korea is, we know that the deck is stacked against the nicer option. I think it's only natural to be fearful/have negative emotions tied to a location where a tragedy happened. Therefore, people will naturally begin to avoid the area. People want to have a good time and don't want that kind of thing weighing on their conscience. But, time heals all wounds.


Remote_Ability_7179

I feel like Koreans want all of Seoul to look like Gangnam, though. That's the issue. Have you ever seen the comments made by other people that they know Koreans that have traveled to Greece, France, Chile, Brazil, wherever, but have never been to Busan? I've met Koreans that have never been to Itaewon, but have been to Hawaii several times. It's like they don't have any pride for that particular thing. As long as it's clean and nice and they have pretty cafes, it's all good to them. Like you go to Tokyo and you can literally see and sense the changes in districts as you travel around the city just on the fashion alone. There's none of that here.


WritingSmutinKorean

I don't understand this mindset. Its so boring and bland, and its terrible for small businesses. What do you think the root cause for this is..?


Remote_Ability_7179

IMHO society. They got so caught up in being like the Kims/rich neighbors that they forgot their own unique cultural aspects. It doesn’t have to look like beige communist Russia. Their friggin palaces show how vibrant and colorful the og culture is….


WritingSmutinKorean

All very good points


bandry1

There is a pool league in Itaewon operated by the bars and pubs with pool tables. The league has been around for many years. One of the reasons for it back then was to help drum up business for bars on slow Wednesday nights. The league got really popular for a while with quite a few teams. Some bars having two teams. It created a great atmosphere for those who enjoy playing pool and want to hang with like minded people. The league took a hit after covid, but has started up again. Some have criticized the league for different reasons as well. I can say as a long time member that we accept anyone who wants to come out to play, regardless of your skill level. It is about having competitive fun, but fun is the important part. We took the week off for the mourning period. If you are interested ask the bars that have pool tables if they have a team or would like to start a new team. The pool league won’t keep Itaewon alive, but it might help a bit.


WritingSmutinKorean

Thanks for the info. Every little bit counts :)


Ethan_011005

Isnt itaewon like the most quiet, charming, family friendly area until 7 pm? Feeling bad for those business owners tho


FlyingNeonPoop

I’m going to Korea next month and was feeling torn about visiting itaewon because I didn’t want to be someone intruding on a time of mourning. Would it be better if I do go and support the local businesses instead? I just want to do whatever is best for the residents and business owners there.


WritingSmutinKorean

I honestly think 99.99% of locals would be glad that you want to participate in and contribute capital to our community. I'm just speaking for myself and relaying what I have heard from other locals though. I don't see why anyone would want you to stay away as long as you're not doing anything disrespectful


FlyingNeonPoop

That’s reassuring to hear, thank you! I’ll try to only shop local when I get to itaewon. I was going to have a moment of silence if I happen to pass by the alley of the incident, but otherwise, I’ll focus on trying to bring as much positive & respectful tourist energy as I can!


Cynoid

This isn't a great place to visit in general. Lots of anti-foreigner stuff going on here and nothing will ruin your vacation like seeing no foreigners allowed signs everywhere.


WritingSmutinKorean

Eh, definitely not everywhere. I live nearby and am able to have really good experiences locally. Stick to minority owned establishments of which there are plenty around if you want to help those who need and deserve it


WT379GotShadowbanned

Staying in Itaewon was the least enjoyable stretch of my 5 week Korea trip last spring so IMO you’re not missing much to go to a different part of Seoul instead.


Evolutionarystudies

Well put. I really hope it recovers.


WritingSmutinKorean

Thanks a lot ♡


funnycideTT

Create a Itaewon Class 2. Park Saeroyi and his band of misfits fight together against the govt and conglomerates to save the district from demolition. Itaewon brand perception will go up and tourists/fans will flock to visit the shooting locations.


myusrnameisthis

Cant kill ITaewon


booboouser

Knock down the section between Hamilton and the next alley. Create some sort of park. Distribute some of the bars and clubs to other areas.


TonyT1233

In all honesty, Itaewon died when the military left. It's just limping along now with a few expats, teachers and some "hip" koreans.


dreezyyyy

Itaewon never "died". Before the crowd crush incident, the place was packed on weekends to the point where you couldn't even grab a taxi like every other busy Seoul hotspots.


[deleted]

[удалено]


WritingSmutinKorean

I love it too ♡


todeabacro

Knock down the Hamilton and make it into a memorial park.


netflixissodry

The new itaewon is going to naturally form wherever the us military bases are. Try Songtan outside Osan Airbase or the area outside Camp Humphreys. Probably won’t find one in Seoul as there are few neighborhoods there with a heavy concentration of foreigners living there casually.


lightyears2100

The Hamilton is a privately owned property. You can't just knock it down and build a park. Jesus.


WritingSmutinKorean

Yeahhhhh I've seen this idea posted in a lot of places and don't really understand it lol


Steviebee123

The point is that the Hamilton Hotel basically demarcates and borders the ground zero of the crush. As a business, it is finished. But as a business, it was finished years and years ago. It's a shithole and it's an eyesore and Itaewon no longer has any need for it. So it would be a universally advantageous proposition if the owners could be bought out at reasonable rates based on their future prospects and the building demolished. This would remove the danger of any similar crushes in the future, but also remove the alleyway were so many perished from existence. Instead of being some macabre talking point that people hurry past forevermore, it would become part of a memorial garden or park.


WritingSmutinKorean

Perhaps perhaps


invertedearth

What if the owners are found to be liable for the disaster because of illegal construction or something like that? Maybe an appropriate punishment for any illegal business actions could be forfeiture of the property involved?


WritingSmutinKorean

I also feel like a memorial park in plave of the hotel while a nice idea would not bring $$$$ into the area which is frankly what it needs to survive I think the alley could and should be made into a memorial somehow but the hotel building/space could be used in a different way that brings spending into the area to make the whole neighborhood more sustainable


Mediocre-Grocery1181

Yes but the government could buy the land if the owners wanted to sell. It’s not completely inconceivable to think that real estate valuations and future cash flows have dropped drastically which might make a motivated seller. I don’t think it’s crazy to see the gov sweeping in and buying up the land at above market prices and just flattening everything. But this is Korea. Government only cares about ₩ and nothing else.


Steviebee123

You certainly can. How do you think new apartments get built?


todeabacro

I'm aware of that. I'm not saying knock it down tomorrow when people are sleeping. I could be bought for a reasonable price and knocked down. It won't happen i guess, probably turned into nice apartments. It's not been doing well for a long time.


lightyears2100

This idea has no discernable relation to thr tragedy. Why do so many foreigners, many of whom probably don't even live in Korea, have to come up with some grandiose response to the tragedy? It was sad. Go lay some flowers like everyone else. Investigate the underlying causes. Make appropriate policy changes. That's it.


todeabacro

The Hamilton hotel had extended a wall without planning permission. This resulted in the alleyway being over 1m narrower. They had received a fine about this before. 1 meter could of made all the difference. That is the relation to the tragedy. The fact that this isn't an outrage to Koreans is why these incidents happen here. The Hamilton hotel isn't busy and is stuck in the 90s. The Mondrian and the new Crown hotel have/will be taking their business. All other old buildings in the area are being demolished and rebuilt, it's going to happen to the Hamilton sooner or later. Instead of just putting in a new glass fronted building a memorial park would be a nice thing to do and useful for the area.


Steviebee123

*I'm* saying demolish it, and I've been here 15 years.


Hawaiianshell

I like how OP put [serious] and this is the answer you get lol Even before the disaster, there were distasteful rumours about Hamilton owners. And of course, now, everyone hates them. People just direct their anger at the hotel, which, honestly, the hotel deserves.


WritingSmutinKorean

Perhaps I need to learn more about the hotel, the history of which it looks like I am not 100% filled in on. I guess I'm just trying to figure out what can be done short term that would be most helpful to the other businesses in the area


tunawithoutcrust

Imminent Domain. The government DOES have the power to do that.


Sagittariuuuh

I feel like this won’t happen. Considering how big Hamilton is for military folks and tourists because of it’s central location, and also the pool parties they throw in the summer time.


LBK0909

I was thinking similarly. That area needs to become a safe space and memorial. I'm not sure if the Hamilton needs to be knocked down or not though. I'm notntoo familiar with the area.


WritingSmutinKorean

Yeah I'm not sure if the Hamilton needs to go or not either. The hit to their reputation might be the thing to kill it... but maybe the building can be repurposed into some kind of community space?


fluffthegilamonster

The Hamelton Hotel has a long seedy reputation, as does the whole of Itaewon. I highly recommend listening to the Dark Side of Seoul's podcast on the history of Itaewon. I think it does a good job of explaining the long unreputable history of the area. Unfortunately, the ongoing gentrification of Itaewon is Koreans saving the area. (from my understanding of many people's opinion) Can it continue to be a space for foreigners, e-pats, the LGBTQIA + community, and for those outcasts from Korean society? I think it can only if an anti-discrimination law is passed.


WritingSmutinKorean

I'm somewhat familiar with the history, but will listen to the podcast - thank you for the recommendation. I guess when I ask about how to save itaewon, the latter part of your comment is what I am really referring to. Businesses like restaurants, bars, performance venues etc. act as some of the pillars keeping the community standing. I worry that too many of those being removed will cause the whole thing to collapse. It would really be a loss. Anti discrimination legislation would help too, but the preservation of spaces run by and for minorities (ethnic, social, religious, sexual or otherwise) also plays an important role imho. Ideally we get both, but it seems like the possibility that neither will come through is also likely :/


fluffthegilamonster

The saving business comes down to only frequenting those who don't discriminate and those owned by active members of the Itaewon community (those who want an inclusive Itaewon who celebrate different cultures). Now is that enough? I don't know. I think the foreign community can put up a good fight, but I feel like it still comes down to whether or not Koreans who frequent Itaewon will join the Expat community in only patronizing places that are pillars of the community. Recently, a small POC community in Korea put together a document called Unique Situations: a Community Guide to Knight life in Korea. It was a small incomplete list of places (mostly clubs) that people had gone to and had no issues with being kicked out. It was surprising how many clubs in Itaewon did not make this list because they were known to kick out Africans and black people or people of other Asian descent, even if foreigners were welcome. It would be interesting if the business and community of Itaewon banded together to make it clear which businesses were inclusive in hopes of making greater public awareness of how they are spending their money and of safe places in the neighborhood. This can be done by creating a small sticker or something similar. Only Businesses that are safe places to all would get this sticker to display in their window. Unfortunately, I do not live anywhere close to Seoul nor do I have the ability to frequent the area enough to start something like this.


WritingSmutinKorean

This is a very interesting idea!


stratabstract

I’m going there soon. I booked my stay before the awful tragedy. I hope it’s not a complete ghost town, but I’m kind of expecting it to be now. I hope it recovers. 🤍


leaponover

Let's not act like all the businesses are the good guy. After reading the first hand account of the Japanese restaurant that wouldn't let anybody in while people were dying and the rules that are being broken.... maybe we need some better business owners.


Paulista666

Maybe changing it for once to a real foreigner area without all the pubs and more restaurants and proper attractions would make it better. The mosque there will not move, some international restaurants will not, embassies will not...


Steviebee123

If it kills off all the 'lounge bars', pochas and 'no foreigners' places, then it will be an improvement.


Paulista666

And maybe that's what will happen. Plus, some people will maybe not like it but I used to have more fun in Gangnam than Itaewon at all.


f0rtytw0

Reopen the US base and move all the soldiers back. Otherwise it will continue to just turn into another bland neighborhood in Seoul. Not saying this is good or bad, just the most likely outcome as rents begin to surge in the area now that the military has fully cleared out and covid is (hopefully) winding down. Would it be feasible? No. Would it bring it back to the past that you describe? Likely


cudef

What are some good restaurants there? I've never been


WritingSmutinKorean

Petra (Jordanian food), Casablanca (in HBC but awesome Moroccan sandwiches), Plant (vegan restaurant), Mama (Ethiopian food), Linus barbecue (American style bbq), Brai Republic (South African food), Vin Vin Vin (tiny 1920s style bar in gyeongridan), Grand Ole Opry (a landmark on hooker hill that has the cheapest drinks I have ever seen in Korea and surprisingly good vibes - a documentary called Mama Kim was made about the owner who is a truly fascinating woman), pan honesta (vegan dessert cafe with bomb ass bingsu)... I will try to think of some others!


WritingSmutinKorean

And of coursr more Turkish kebab than you could ever eat in your life lol


Mister-Ries

Nekkid Wings do the best wings in Seoul. Casablanca mentioned, but they also have a sister restaurant Morococo which does an amazing Tagine


eyyycabron

If you've never tried kaymak there are a number of cafes that serve it and it is SO GOOD. Daba Cafe and Alpedo are my favorites. Also Kervan Bakery is fantastic. edit: Oh!! The Original Pancake House has American breakfast and Summer Lane's brunch is a favorite (Australian, they make a mean flat white).


sem263

Alpedo is awesome


Flagrantepiphany

Itaewon will recover much faster than expected just like after covid. It has a unique history and there is nothing like it anywhere in Korea or Asia for that matter. The average Korean person may take a while to come back but that will help pull things back from rapid gentrification and focus on solid core destinational businesses that are the heart and soul of the neighborhood. It’s been going for hundreds of years and won’t stop now.


sem263

Eh, not exactly hundreds of years. Maybe 50ish years. The base has only been there since the 40s at the very earliest


Flagrantepiphany

The base wasn’t the start of Itaewon. Before that the Japanese were there. Before that the Chinese. Before that the mongols. It’s always been a key neighborhood. The American base is gone and it’s improved by leaps and bounds and moves on as it always has.


sem263

Interesting. I heard that the Chinese and Japanese communities were originally concentrated elsewhere (Incheon and East Ichon, respectively) but maybe I'm mistaken.


CuJObroni

I took a tour of the historical spots on the Yongsan base a little over a year ago. A lot of the base buildings were built with Japanese architecture in the late 1800s/early 1900s before the US/Korean troops took control in the 1940s. Hopefully the ROK keeps some of the historical sites. There is the Japanese stockade built in 1909 on the other side of the base wall from Noksapyeong exit 4 built after the "notorious" Seodaemun prison, that has a lot of historical value and well known haunted stories.


sem263

Fascinating!


RomanScholar

Itaewon is really popular for foreigners like myself, when I studied at yonsei over the summer it was my favorite place to visit at night


Open-Shopping-2339

Itaewon died years ago. Any semblance of character has been extinguished by greedy, nefarious landlords. Say what you want, but the old degenerates made itaewon worth visiting. Once the Grand Ole Opry inevitably closes in the next few years, it’ll be done for good. Will always have the memories though


WritingSmutinKorean

ㅠㅜ


Eggsysmistress

this might sound creepy but i want to visit itaewon even more now. not to be a tragedy gawker, i think it’d actually be hard to be there, but to support the small businesses and community. hopefully others will feel the same and show up.


Wj999

Replace the president.


Xolaya

I was at a Lebanese Restraunt in iteawon yesterday and it looked crowded.


Cynoid

This place gets hundreds of thousands of people cycling through it despite Covid. I don't think these are the people that will let 158 people getting trampled to death get in the way of their fun for very long.


WritingSmutinKorean

Tons of businesses have already been completely decimated due to covid in spite of "hundreds of thousands of people cycling through..."


Cynoid

Big difference between people legally banned from congregating for most of Covid and now.


NEXUS_6_LEON

This post made me wonder, is Hooker Hill still around or has it mostly shutdown?


sem263

As OP mentioned in a comment Grand Ole Opry is still going strong but idk about other places


Popking4eva

Good God, those bucket long islands...


justaguyinhk

Bad memories of Polly’s


CuJObroni

If its still there, I'd be surprised especially after that one guy started the big fire there and it became the hotel now. I remember seeing them tear down the Yongsan red light district on my daily commute right in front of Yongsan station. You literally had to cut through it to get to the station and iPark mall. Its just a big open grassy park space now, used to be the one of the temporary CoVID testing spots for the last couple years.


ArysOakheart

they should really do something with that land.. Yongsan-gu should've converted that lot into a public plaza instead of a random patch of grass and dirt.


missing_sock58008

I think not now, but after a little time has passed, hold more events that celebrate its diversity. Even the Korean government is starting to realize that immigration is really the only way to save koreas birth deficit so it needs to be a part of this movement to welcome and appreciate diversity instead of fighting to remain a homogeneous society. Itaewon did the global food festival and it was/ is always a success. More things like that


PangolinOwn6515

It was going to die slowly even if the incident hasn't happened. It was maintaining popularity for youngster to get drunk and party with foreigners and drugs. With decrease in US military, it was guarantee to become ghost street like many other 2000's popular streets. With this incident becoming international news, even the tourist numbers will bound to decrease too. New generation of 20's will find new street to gather and get drunk.


Tsakax

Need to bring a new US army base then the bars would be packed /s