Down These Mean Streets

Hookers and army guys and foreigners, oh my!

Down these mean streets

Always on!

Itaewon, a neighborhood in Seoul, Korea, is infamous for its prostitutes, army guys, and bars.  “Hooker Hill” had seen better days, but it was still chugging along the last time I was there back in 2006.   I just heard on NPR that the foreign occupation of Itaewon is what is now drawing Koreans onto its streets which is ironic because that was one of the reasons Koreans would avoid it.  Like the plague, like you could catch some serious cooties by just walking around there!

Under the Big Tent

Under the Big Tent

Itaewon was tawdry, but I didn’t let that stop me from going there to dance and drink with my Korean and expat friends.  Bars desperate enough to lure in customers offered 2 for 1 drinks for ladies which in turn got the guys––army guys, motley expats, and random horn dogs––to come in for a chance at sloppy seconds.  The army guys had a curfew so they were usually less slimy and annoying than the expats.  But to be fair, some of those female expats were just as gross and gnarly as the guys.  I remember one freak from North Carolina (or as she proudly called “North Cackalacky”) who told me I was going to hell because I didn’t believe in God.  Well, apparently she was right as I was already there talking to her bo-dunk ass.

Hey North Cackalacky, keep your bo-dunk ass rejects to yourself!

Group huddle with fishball

Group huddle with fish balls

Stupid expats aside, I had no problem finding kindred spirits who enjoyed a quick bite at a sidewalk snack bar (known in Korea as a pojang macha 포장마차; literal translation: a covered wagon) after some drinks as much as I did.

Just one more for the road

One more for the road

There’s not a lot of things I like better than processed fish on a stick!

Related post:

Ask a Korean: Why do Expats Teaching in Korea Think Korean Food is Weird?


2 thoughts on “Down These Mean Streets

  1. Ha! My old stomping grounds. I met my wife at a dance club in Itaewon! Normal Koreans visit the clubs to mingle with foreigners. So it’s not all vice or ulterior motives. We’ve been together for 13 happy years. Thank goodness for Itaewon!

    • I’m all for vice and ulterior motives as that’s just part of our human nature, but I am down on the creeps and losers who troll any neighborhood spreading either their religious fervor or nasty inclinations. There are happy Itaewon stories with happy endings among my friends too. And I’m glad you and your wife are going strong after 13 years.

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