Let’s go to… the Itaewon Global Village Festival!

Since Saturday is one of our days off and we tend to utilize these days for maximum adventure/pleasure/relaxation, we sought out a wonderful use of our Saturday last weekend. On our last trip to Itaewon we saw banners and posters for an International Festival coming up so we put the date into our calendars and kept the day tentative. Nothing more pertinent came up, so we made the trip to Itaewon in the morning not quite knowing what to expect. When we got to the foreigner district of Seoul we were immediately surrounded by people of all nationalities, races, and dispositions. The Global Village Festival engulfed Itaewon from corner to corner, running from the Itaewon Gate to the iconic Hamilton Hotel.

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The main drag of this district, normally flooded with drunken GI’s and English teachers, was covered in families and foreigners of all sorts. Every inch of the closed off street was littered with people vying for the next taste of international cuisine or handicrafts. From Chile to Cambodia; Australia to America, there were food stalls selling the epitome of flavor from these diverse nations.

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We started our culinary adventure by having skewered meat and veggies from the Congo. Then we got lost in a whirlwind of possible flavors and decided to camp out at a bar, Dillinger’s, which had a balcony facing the drag to see if the parade would start like the translated tourism page said it would. After a beer and Bloody Mary (6,000KRW at happy hour, Stephanie’s bliss) the parade began and we split up. I went down to the street for some curbside action shots while Stephanie set up the tripod from our table on the second floor.

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The parade was wonderful. Brilliant colors were worn by exotic nations and representatives that showed off the rare sort of diversity that Korea generally lacks. Known as one of the world’s most homogenous cultures, Korea really seemed to show off its diversity in this festival that lasted the entire weekend. The guys from the Turkish Kabab restaurant proudly marched down the streets greeting their patrons, the Pakistani families that work in the Foreign grocery stores proudly chanted their favorite half-English songs, and everyone joined in a terrific celebration of Waygook-ness (waygook meaning foreigner in Korean). Numerous nations were represented and everyone was having a splendid time. We saw dozens of countries march down the drag before the parade ended, banging their drums and singing their songs.

Click on the photos for the full size!

After the 1.5 hour parade ended, we went back to sampling the local fare. We, of course, went to the Mexico stand and had a King Taco (spicy edition) and then perused the Middle East and settled for Uzbekistan’s meat-filled pancake roll after Vietnam ran out of Pho.

Click on the photos for the full size!

All-in-all we had a terrific time, had some wonderful food, and enjoyed a celebration that strangely included our own involvement in Korean culture. If we have the chance next year we will be happy to go again, and urge anyone in the area to check it out as well.

5 thoughts on “Let’s go to… the Itaewon Global Village Festival!

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