Itaewon Street Festival Brings Expats and Koreans Together
SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) -- Seoul's popular foreigner district of Itaewon on Saturday kicked off a two-day festival, bringing South Koreans and the expat community closer through cultural exchanges.
Hosted by a shop owners' association of Itaewon and sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the event not only provides visitors with traditional performances, but also with concerts by popular K-pop singers including the girl group Mamamoo.
Under the theme "global cultures in bloom all over Itaewon," the organizers said the festival will be full of "expectation," "events," "cultural experiences," and "fun."
Events include an international beauty contest as well as a parade where 1,000 citizens, soldiers, police, and performers will march 1.4 kilometers through the area. Dozens of food carts will also provide various dishes from around the globe over the two-day period, organizers added.
Organizers said they expect around 1 million visitors to participate in the two-day festival. The main street running through Itaewon will be closed off to provide room for the festival.
"We aim to make the festival a cultural one, rather than to just focus on consumption," Sung Jang-hyun, the district head of Yongsan, said.
Itaewon started out as an international community after the 1950-53 Korean War through the deployment of the United States Forces Korea. It continued to develop as the hub of the expat community as various countries opened up embassies nearby throughout the 60s.
The area is now a thriving international town packed with visitors from around the globe.
South Korea's justice ministry earlier announced that the number of foreigners living in the country reached nearly 2 million as of March, indicating that the country has become more globalized than ever.'