I pass through Itaewon almost everyday. Yes, everyday. Not because I go there often to dine or drink, but because of the bus I take to work. Itaewon is just a transit point for me. The last time I was there, other than to take a bus, was when I swung by one of the grocery stores to get some laundry detergent. Ha-ha-ha!
And these past week, I noticed from my seat on the Blue Bus 110 that most poles have banners flying on them. And at the arch way near the Noksapyeong Station, there's a sign that the main road would be closed!
And that just means one thing: it's the Itaewon Global Village Festival again!
Last year, during early fall, Itaewon also closed its main road from that arch near the Noksapyeong Station up to the Hamilton Hotel intersection. From there, both lanes were usually open to vehicular traffic, but on the day of the parade, only one lane was open until the Hangangjin Station.
This year, the Festival is on October 17 and 18, a weekend, and I am sure Itaewon will again be overcrowded with locals and international revelers from all over Seoul, and perhaps from other cities of Korea as well. Last year, the main street was full of booths selling cuisines from different countries. I wasn't able to try any of the booths because the lines were usually long and I didn't have the patience to wait. So, I just moved around and checked out everything else that was happening around the festival road.
On the eve of the Festival this year, I promised to tour some friends around Itaewon. I did this tour two years ago to show the different sides of Itaewon to friends who weren't familiar especially with the 'other side' of Itaewon. Yes, there's the fun side of Itaewon, and there's the shady side of Itaewon. Ha-ha-ha!
And on Saturday afternoon, at 4, the part of the Festival most awaited by the local residents and visitors in Itaewon will be the international parade. The participants from local organizations and foreign communities in Korea dress up in their colorful costumes to parade and impress the crowd that will line up along the whole stretch. I think I will watch this again, if only to see and appreciate this rare spectacle. How often do you get to see an international parade in Seoul, anyway?
And if finding a parking space in Itaewon during an ordinary weekend is next to impossible, maybe during the Festival it would be a miracle if you could. Since lanes will be closed and vehicular routes will be detoured, traffic will be as slow-moving as a drunkard leaving an Itaewon bar at three on any Saturday morning. Ha-ha-ha!
So, if you have nothing else on your schedule this weekend, you can always swing by Itaewon this time of the year!
For more about the Itaewon Global Village Festival, here's its official Facebook page:
P.S. The best way to get there may be the subway. As the bus routes will be detoured, you can just alight at the bus stop next to the Noksapyeong Station.