Itaewon, site of deadly stampede, known for hip nightlife, chic restaurants

Itaewon, the site of Saturday’s deadly stampede that killed at least 149 people, is known for its hip nightlife and chic restaurants, making it a favourite hangout among young people in their 20s and beyond.

Itaewon’s bars and clubs have long served American troops stationed in the country as the neighbourhood is located near the former main garrison of the US Forces Korea (USFK) in central Seoul.

The district is also home to many foreign embassies, ambassadors’ residences and houses of worship for minor religions in South Korea, such as Islam and Judaism, Yonhap news agency reported.

With the relocation of the USFK headquarters to Pyeongtaek, 65 kilometres south of Seoul, Itaewon began to shed its image associated with American troops and reemerged as a vibrant entertainment and shopping district.

The neighbourhood also became the centre of attention as President Yoon Suk-yeol relocated the presidential office to the former Defence Ministry compound near Itaewon in May.

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a serious blow to businesses in Itaewon and Saturday’s Halloween festivities had been hoped to mark another return to life after the pandemic.

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