In Itaewon, some less spiritual celebrating

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In Itaewon, some less spiritual celebrating

You might call it a miniature Taste of Itaewon.
On Wednesday ―Buddha’s Birthday, a national holiday ― a handful of restaurants and bars in an alley behind the foreigner-friendly district’s Hamilton Hotel are teaming up for the Itaewon Alley Festival, an afternoon of food and music that organizers hope will show visitors a new side of the neighborhood. Says Benjamin Joinau of the French restaurant Le Saint-Ex, “Itaewon is cosmopolitan and not just for GIs.”
The proof, he and others say, is in the ethnic restaurants that have sprung up in this neck of Itaewon.
There will be French fare from Le Saint-Ex, Thai from Pattaya, Balinese from Bali, Thai fusion from Chez Vouz, Korean from Arirang and others, German from 3 Alley Pub, Mediterranean at Gecko’s Garden, Pakistani from Mogul and Usmania and Greek from Santorini.
The restaurants, along with the bar Nana, will be serving mini-food platters along with beer, wine and cocktails. The word of the day is “inexpensive,” with prices ranging from 2,000 won ($1.70) to 5,000 won. Three stages will be set up for a rotation of bands; there will also be raffles for prizes linked to the bars and restaurants.
This “family oriented festival,” as Mr. Joinau calls it, runs from noon to 5 p.m. And afterward? Well, it’s Itaewon; no surprises there. “People can choose to have dinner or party at a nearby club,” says Mr. Joinau.
Although the primary organizer is Nana, the staff of Le Saint Ex and 3 Alley Pub say they’ve been toying with the idea for some time. “And then this young guy, Patrick, a DJ at Nana, came to us about organizing a neighborhood festival, and we were like, ‘Yes!’ and jumped right on it.” Mr. Joinau hopes it will become a semiannual event.
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Since a lot of people, expatriates and Korean, will not be working on Wednesday due to the holiday, Tuesday night is prime partying time. To celebrate its sixth anniversary, Seoul Classified will host a party at the Itaewon dance club Limelight starting at 7:30 p.m.
From its first 16-page issue, this free English-language magazine has grown to 32 pages. Its staff has plans to make this party an annual event.
“We’re benchmarking Tokyo Classified, now called Metropolis,” says Song Yong Eui, the publisher. “I know the staff there, and they began throwing parties a few years ago, as a way to say ‘thank you’ to the readers and advertisers, and for people to have a chance to meet each other.”
Since Mr. Song took over Seoul Classified, he has included more stories, bar and restaurant reviews and a horoscope. But the heart of the magazine is the classifieds section. “Culture is good, but we’re leaving the serious news to other publications,” he said. “Instead, we’re all about entertainment.”
Admission is 10,000 won, which includes free drinks until the end of the party at 11:30 p.m. Food will be served until it runs out.
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by Joe Yong-hee
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