Seoul has several international districts. The growth in the number of foreigners is expected to increase further with plans for foreign investment zones around the city. The following is a short list of some of the prominent foreign communities in Seoul.
Itaewon was and still continues to be the largest expatriate community in the country. Located near the Yongsan US military base, it is designated as a special tourist zone; Itaewon is famous for shopping, with a diverse range of shops catering to the needs of the foreign community. The neighborhood also boasts a large number of bars, clubs and restaurants. The multi-cultural community in Itaewon is well represented in the authentic ethnic restaurants in the area. Some of the American, French, Pakistani, Indian, Egyptian and Middle Eastern eateries are simply unmatched. Itaewon is the residential area of choice for a large number of foreigners working in Korea, thanks to its large expatriate community and affordable housing.
Hannam-dong has a significant number of foreign diplomatic missions. Located near Itaewon, the district contains two areas; UN Village and an ordinary residential district. You will notice a number of fancy villas or big Western-style houses in this exclusive area.Hannam-dong is a primarily residential area with many of the cultural and business facilities located in nearby Itaewon.
Ichon-dong is widely recognized as a predominantly Japanese district. Ichon-dong was once home to embassy staffers and employees of trading companies in the city, with a current Japanese population of around 5,000. It’s common to see authentic Japanese restaurants in the area. It’s also quite common to see Japanese business signs in the area. With Yongsan Park in close proximity, Ichondong is a unique and pleasant residential area.
Located in the northwest area of Seoul, Seodaemun-gu is a popular residential area among foreigners. Numerous universities including Ewha Womans University, Hongik University and Yonsei University are located in the district and hence many foreign students and professors reside in the area. Numerous officetels and one rooms in the district are quite popular with the students and singles. The district is surrounded by mountains which allows for regular weekend hiking forays convenient for residents of the district. The large number of international schools in the area indicates a significant number of foreigners residing in the area. Yeonhui-dong is located near Ewha Womans University and Yonsei University, hence a large number of professors and students live in the area.
The most modern districts of Seoul, these two areas south of the Han River are the shopping and business hubs of Seoul. Numerous apartment complexes, officetels and one room studios in the district are popularwith the single working class population in the area. Gangnam has various cultural and business facilities such as Korea International Trade Association (KITA), COEX, and Seoul Arts Center. The area also boasts some of the most affluent areas in Seoul containing pricey high-rise buildings and trendy fashion districts. Gangnam-gu is popular among Koreans because of the convenient transportation to various areas around the city and elite schools and academies in the area. On the downside, the popularity of this district has lead to an increase in housing costs and hectic traffic. Furthermore, the large number of office buildings and academies in the area has resulted in a steady growth of foreign workers and English instructors making Gangnam-gu their home away from home. Of themany neighborhoods in Seocho-gu, none stands out more than Seorae Village in Banpodong. Distinctly French and unique, Seorae Village is located next toMontmartre Park.
Pyeongchang-dong / Seongbuk-dong
Expensive villas and luxury houses line Pyeongchang-dong. Located on the hills and surrounded by mountains with a scenic view of the city, the area offers a quiet residential atmosphere. Seongbuk-dong is located near the Blue House, the president’s official residence. Due to its close proximity to the Blue House, the neighborhood is safe and has a lot of cultural facilities. Art centers and galleries abound but it’s hard to find commercial businesses nearby. Public transportation is also limited with a few bus routes.