Itaewon district in the northern part of Seoul is known for its exotic restaurants, packed clubs, and energetic streets. But, it has been Itaewon’s diversity, freedom and mostly cheap rent, that has attracted artists and creatives to the area. There is a new side of Itaewon that you have never seen before.
If you move away from the centre and drift to the Hanganjin Station (한강진역) side, slowly the vibe changes.
It all started with the establishment of the Leeum Museum of Art (리움 미술관) in 2014, and the Blue Square Hall (블루스궤어) in 2011. The artistic spirit of these music and art centres seeped out to the surrounding area.
Footsteps of foreigners and Korean youth seem to be moving more in this direction, and there’s a reason why.
Vinyl & Plastic Studio (비닐 앤 플라스틱)
In a generation where nearly all music is digital, you can go to the Vinyl & Plastic studios for something very different.
Here, you can listen to a diverse genre of music, from golden oldies like The Beatles to new hits like Adele on cassettes and vinyl records. Those in their 20s~30s come to experience something new, while the older generation come to relive their nostalgic memories.
It has become one of the staple establishments in this area, that has created a new trendy vibe.
Music and art come together at Stradeum (스트라디움), where visitors are reminded of the purity of music.
At the Sound Gallery, you are in for a unique experience as a huge white gallery room has hanging headphones instead of paintings. Like browsing art, people sit on chairs, face the blank wall and listen to music.
All distractions are taken away, and once again you experience only the music. This is also a great way to be introduced to great new sounds.
The acoustically designed room called The Music Room, is for true music fans. Seating only 10 people, music is played on specially designed speakers, so it feels like the artist is performing right in front of you.
On this quiet and calm street, it is like all time has stopped, and it doesn’t feel like the Itaewon that you thought you knew.
The stair market (계단장) ran on Usadan-gil stairs from 2013~2016, where young talented artists and hobbyist would sell their goods and talents. Although the market has gone, creatives have flocked here to create their own stores.
Due to this, Usadan-gil is said to be the gathering place of starving artists. Each café and shop on this street shows the personality of its owners, giving the area a lot of character.
You can find virtually everything from international vintage fashion to a variety of handmade products, as artists craft their own one-of-a kind jewelry and bags at their mini workshops. One of the unique traits of Usadan-gil is the lack of signs in front of shops and cafes. Instead you must peer into windows, almost enticing visitors to come in.
These handmade or handpicked items, make Usadan-gil have a home-grown feel, which is unlike the other streets in Seoul.
Even though the outskirts of Itaewon are hilly with difficult windy roads, the trek is worth it if you find a unique and special place – like finding a diamond in the rough.
Where do you think is the best hipster hotspot in Korea? Leave a Comment • If you like this post, please feel free to share • Content may not be reproduced unless authorized • Make sure you subscribe, new post every Thursday!