Among Seoul expats, Itaewon has always been a popular place to party, but for many years, the area suffered from a somewhat tarnished reputation among the Koreans. When I was doing an internship in Seoul back in 2005, I remember by boss giving me a disapproving look, when I told him I had been out in Itaewon, because apparently, this wasn’t a place for ladies.
Fast forward to 2017, and you’ll notice how Itaewon has gone though a major make-over and even though the sleazy pick up joints are still there, the chic cafés and trendy bars now dominates the nightlife scene.
Unless you’re headed for a pub or a low-key nightclub such as UN you need to dress up to go out in Itaewon. The nightclubs in Seoul are infamous for being
discriminatory very selective and they can come up with hundreds of reasons not to let you in. Nationality and looks are just some of them, but age and attire are also among the variables considered, when deciding whether you’re worthy or not. Especially for men, this can be quite a challenge. Women have an easier match, and I haven’t experienced any troubles in the doors myself. Please notice that a lot of the clubs with a younger clientele have an upper age limit of 30 years, so Seoul is one of the few places in the world, where you can be too old to get in.
Here are some of the bars I visited when I was in Seoul earlier this year:
Prost and Glam
Prost is my new favorite bar in Seoul. Prost is a pub, but the clientele is predominantly young and stylish Koreans. There are several bars inside Prost, including a pop-up craft beer bar near the entrance. One star up, there another bar called Glam. It’s a different venue and I think we paid to get in, but I’m not sure as it was late and we’d had our share of Korean beer that night. Glam is more upscale than Prost, and you’ll see more champagne bottles and VIP tables here, but also a more mature crowd.
B One is right in the Heart of Itaewon, and it was hip hop night, when we were there. That was all it took to lure me inside, and even though we were probably 15 years older than the rest of the crowd that night, we had a blast.
This was one of the places I used to hang, when I was doing my internship in Seoul back in 2005. Back then, Gecko’s Terrace was an expat favorite and it was always packed, both inside and outside. I had been looking forward to seeing Gecko’s again, but it was quite a disappointment, because the bar was almost empty. Though it might have been because of Seollal, because according to Pia’s Korean friend Steve, Gecko’s is still quite popular on weekends.
Half indoors, half outdoors, this elegant, mansion-like nightclub seems to be the place to go in Itaewon right now. At least if you’re 20 years old and Korean.
Club UN is another old favorite of mine. It used to be quite a pick-up place, and I believe it still is, but the music is ok, and if you like low-key places like this with friendly people and reasonably cheap drinks, then UN is for sure worth a visit.
Boom Bar is an upscale hip hop lounge bar, and I have no troubles seeing the potential in this classy nightlife spot. Unfortunately, the crowd was a bit too small when we were there, and the party never really got started. Really nice music! (if you like hip hop).