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What Are The Best Bars and Pubs In Itaewon 2024

Looking for the best bars in Itaewon? Itaewon is located approximately 4KM from Seoul, but if you’re heading out for a drink and have no interest in moving too far, it can help to know where the best bars are within walking distance!

In the coming years, it will be hard for anyone to ignore the city of Itaewon. Known for its vibrant nightlife and delicious food, the city is quickly becoming a favourite destination for tourists, expats and locals alike.

Itaewon, which is next to the sizable Yongsan American Garrison, was once despised by residents as a filthy, red-light neighbourhood. But in recent years, Itaewon and its neighbouring suburbs, including Kyunglidan and Haebangchong, have undergone a significant rebirth to fast become one of Seoul’s trendiest neighbourhoods.

Along with cool lounge bars and some of Seoul’s top party venues, this neighbourhood is home to several chic international restaurants. Itaewon emerges as one of Seoul’s premier party districts after dark.

The audience is an intriguing patchwork of all identities and backgrounds, with a small but vibrant Muslim community (focused around Korea’s only mosque), the LGBT community (with a number of well-known bars and clubs), and a diverse array of nationalities and cultures dispersed throughout.

The Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, one of Korea’s top art museums, as well as a number of mid-range to upmarket restaurants and cafes can be found in Hannam-dong, which is toward the eastern end.

A History Of Itaewon

Itaewon is the epicentre of Korean culture. Despite the recent relocation of American troops to Pyeongtaek, the area nevertheless retains its cosmopolitan history. The military installation, Haebangcheon (HBC) Village, nightclub district, and the surrounding affluent Hannam-dong street are Itaewon’s most well-known attractions. All of these special locations are located at the foot of Namsan Mountain, cascading downhill to the stunning, sparkling Han River. It is hardly surprising, even by geographical standards, that both locals and visitors adore the region.

Itaewon developed into a retail area 20 years after the Korean War (1950–1953). International grocery markets, bargain clothing stores, foreign restaurants, and winding alleyways and alleys were all home to these establishments. Particularly in the 1990s, a huge inflow of people from the Middle East and Africa was observed, bringing with them their scrumptious culinary traditions. These eateries quickly gained a reputation for serving some of the city’s best cuisine. Many of these businesses still remain today, along with Itaewon Antique Street, which primarily sells products from Europe and the United States. The prices in Itaewon are well-known for being high, despite the fact that it is one of Seoul’s older neighbourhoods with many deteriorating facades.

Itaewon continued to have a predominately foreign culture until the late 2010s. Things started to change, though, when the US military base announced that it would move to Pyeongtaek, displacing most of the foreign residents and their late-night routines.

Numerous stores, eateries, and coffee shops in the region were forced to close in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Itaewon, which had formerly been under water, had nearly deserted its streets by early 2021. Another tragedy caused by COVID-19 was the heartbreaking, long-standing story of gentrification. The majority of premises were bought by greedy landlords who converted popular kebab stands into upscale bars that were exclusively accessible to the wealthy. Even in the centre of Itaewon’s club district, there is a self-service photo studio! Additionally, the COVID-19 outbreaks in Itaewon stoked widespread xenophobia and anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice among Koreans.

People have continued to swarm to Itaewon despite all of its changes over time. Itaewon Freedom, a hip-hop song by Korean musicians Yoo Se-yoon and JYP, was first released in 2011.

The Itaewon Stretch

One of the most well-liked areas for foreigners is Itaewon. With its obsidian-black facade, the Grand Hyatt towers over the city, and stalwarts like the Hamilton Hotel host some of the greatest pool parties there are. Many of the shops on the main street sell touristic items at negotiable prices. While Itaewon had had a reputation for its fake wares, gentrification has all but eliminated these vendors. However, Itaewon is one of the few options in Seoul if you’re looking for genuine imports, international cuisine and craft beers.

The partying district and Homo Hill, Seoul’s gay hamlet, are located on the main streets directly outside Itaewon Station. The 2020 Netflix blockbuster series Itaewon Class is a fantastic illustration of the vibrant nightlife.

When the US military was active in the 1960s and 1970s, Itaewon developed a reputation as a popular entertainment district. You might have noticed the “Texas Village” and sizable shoe and clothing stores that still there today if you had visited during this time. It was so welcoming to foreigners that some bars even forbade Koreans from entering, and jazz clubs shot to popularity.

Itaewon wasn’t all roses and sunshine. In fact, Korean women intentionally avoided the area as it became more unsafe and connected with mysogony. As the 1970s progressed, more embassies relocated here, the Hamilton Hotel built in 1973, and upscale residences beside housing for foreigners only quickly proliferated. The Seoul Central Mosque was constructed in 1976 thanks to collaboration amongst several Islamic nations.

The 1990s recession slowed Itaewon’s expansion and led to a crackdown on adult-oriented enterprises on Hooker Hill. Despite the government making prostitution illegal in 1961, brothels had been prevalent in the area since the 1960s. Due to the Russian economic downturn in 1998, the region was overrun with Russian prostitutes who also had gangster tendencies. A territorial dispute between two Russian employees resulted in a stabbing fatality in 1999. However, this didn’t deter labourers, and Hooker Hill remained well-known until quite recently. Due to these hazardous streets, other neighbourhoods like Gangnam and Hongdae attracted the attention of foreign tourists. Homo Hill began in the middle of the 1990s as well, with the first bar opening between 1995 and 1996.

Best Bars In Itaewon

Whether you’re looking for an amazing spot to enjoy some drinks or want to explore all that Itaewon has to offer, we have the perfect guide for you. Read on to discover a selection of the best bars in Itaewon;

The Globe

As the name implies, Globe boasts a diverse international clientele, and in addition, the music, the ambiance, and the feelings are all international and contribute to it being one of the best bars in Itaewon. The establishment has undergone numerous adjustments in recent times, but only positive.   The Globe is expanding and changing as it becomes more welcoming to customers, more vibrant with elaborate food and drinks, and larger overall.

The owner, occasionally remodels and alters the interior design to demonstrate a contemporary culture, a vintage culture, or occasionally a fusion to blend forms of design. The setting changes with the owner’s imagination. Recommended to anyone who like art, interior design, fantastic music, positive energy, and a night to remember for years to come. from a client who is incredibly happy and impressed.

Directions: 12, Itaewon-ro 27ga-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 04350 South Korea

The Blacklist

Blacklist is a tiny, ultra-chill artisan cocktail bar located in Seoul’s Itaewon neighbourhood. Other bartenders in the area strongly praise this location, and it was easy to see why.

Located on the third floor of a multi-story storefront on a busy street, but there is an exterior sign, so you just need to look closely to find it. The speakers are blasting great music, and there is a laid back atmosphere that’s welcoming and convinces you to seat for it. The handcrafted cocktails are shaken and stirred. It is a cosy, little modern urban establishment. While you’re there, order an Old Fashioned or a traditional Daiquiri.

Directions: 134 3F Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

The Lord

Excellent location for a few whiskies – each one comes with a tiny accompaniment, such as cheese or chocolate. Whiskey on Tuesday only costs $5 per pour, which is not too bad in a neighbourhood like Itaewon. What more could you want than a helpful service and fine whiskey at an even better price?

The wait staff are helpful and speak enough English to ensure a smooth experience. For the location, the cost of the cocktails and meal was excellent.

The atmosphere is really pleasant and fits the area’s interest in antiques. It’s like entering the 1940s. It almost seems too inexpensive when you take your surroundings into consideration.

The Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, one of Korea’s top art museums, as well as a number of mid-range to upmarket restaurants and cafes can be found nearby.

Directions: 40, Itaewon-ro 27ga-gil, Yongsan-gu 서울 용산구 이태원로27가길 40 , Seoul 04350 Korea, Republic of

Sam Ryan’s Sports Bar

In Itaewon, Sam Ryan’s is situated behind the Hamilton Hotel. Numerous televisions throughout the establishment display American sports, while Premiership football and rugby can also be seen upon request.

a reliable, family-run sports bar with above-average food! I’ll tell you, this is one of the few pubs in Seoul’s Itaewon district where I virtually always order supper, even though I always drink a beer (or three) everytime I visit! Not just me, but many other patrons of the restaurant, also offer the chef high praise for the curry chicken. salmon steak, scrambled potatoes, and chicken fingers are all available.

Pub-sized portions are large enough to satisfy a man with a “genuine” appetite. Okay, to be fair, they provide a little bit too many hash browns and could use a bigger salmon steak, but those are minor issues in the grand scheme of things. Good range of cool draught beers, including Kilkenny. Lively location with a mixed population of “foreigners” and Koreans who are seated or standing close enough to strike up a conversation with one or two strangers… However, I believe a weekday trip is preferable to a weekend excursion. On some weeknights, they close around midnight, but that doesn’t it stop making the list of one of the best bars in Itaewon.

Directions: 50 Itaewon-ro 27ga-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Prost Pub And Grill

A very stylish, affluent, and young clientele. A free and laid-back bar with European influences is available for your enjoyment 365 days a year.

Part of a multi story venue, the place is always buzzing with good music and you can see long queues to get in. The place is quite full everyday but on weekends its jam packed with hardly any place to stand. For foreigners please do carry your passport as Identity proof to get in the place.

Menu has a variety of pub classics and signature items such as homemade burgers and sausage samplers. Customers are constantly lining up for the DJ and music, which offers a comprehensive beer and beverage menu in addition to trademark variety of pub fare.

Best of all, there is no cover charge to get in. You can even visit the other floors (different venues with different music and scene) for free!

Directions: 26, Itaewon-ro 27ga-gil, Yongsan-gu 1F, Hamilton Hotel Annex, Seoul 04350 South Korea

The Grand Ole Osprey

The “Grand Ole Opry,” one of Itaewon’s most well-known clubs, is not shown on any digital maps. Samsook is a Korean woman who opened the saloon-style bar more than 40 years ago. She is well-known for her four marriages and dislike of Korean men. The Koreans and foreigners both adore the widow Samsook. Many customers share their foreign currency as wall decor when they visit her bar.

It’s a charming bar with reasonable prices. The only remaining old-school bar from the area’s seedier era is this one. It has a rich history and many interesting stories. The music is excellent. The “Foreigners Only” sign is a nod to bygone days rather than some bizarre reverse xenophobia, so don’t be concerned about this when/if you see it!

Everything makes sense once you discover the history of the neighbourhood and the bar. A great place and possibly my overall winner of the best bars in Itaewon.

Directions: 16 Usadan-ro 14-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Privilege Bar

Excellent selection of cocktails, and good to very good bar food. Great music in the background as well. Outside was open, but too cold to be usable – I imagine this is wonderful in the Summer months though,

Very nice and fun place to go for lite food, and good drinks. Nice views, good people watching. This bar has great selection of drinks including creative cocktails and whiskey, even mock-tails. Fancy interior and friendly staffs here made our night.

Directions: 23 Jangmun-ro, RF, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Along with cool lounge bars and some of Seoul’s hottest club venues, this area is home to a number of fashionable international restaurants. Itaewon emerges as one of Seoul’s premier party districts after dark.

The crowd is an intriguing patchwork of all identities and backgrounds, with a small but vibrant Muslim community (centred on Korea’s only mosque), the LGBT community (with a number of well-known bars and clubs), and a diverse array of ethnicities and cultures dispersed throughout. Found somewhere that can make the ‘best bars in Itaewon’ list? Let us know. Finally, be sure o check out our Best Bars In Hongdae Article.

James Yeong
James Yeong

Once a quaint dweller of the English countryside, James is now a vibrant voice narrating his adventures in the bustling heart of South Korea. Since relocating to Seoul in 2019, James has immersed himself in the dynamic tapestry of Korean culture, from the serene temples tucked away in mountainous terrains to the neon-lit streets of modern cities.

This blog has become a haven for those seeking an outsider's yet intimate perspective on South Korea, often shedding light on hidden gems and local favourites rather than just the typical tourist hotspots. With a keen eye for detail and a writing style dripping with wit and warmth, James has managed to amass a devoted readership from all corners of the globe.

Whether you're planning a trip to the Seoul, the surrounding cities or just vicariously traveling from the comfort of your couch, Jame's tales of exploration and discovery are sure to ignite a passion for the Land of the Morning Calm.

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