Itaewon (figure 5.1) was designated as a Special Tourist Zone by the Seoul Metropolitan government in 1997 due to the development of diverse patterns of commercial establishments. The reputation of Itaewon as the centre of the entertainment industry as well as of foreign cuisine has become a selling point in local and international tourism. A concentration of trendy nightclubs, bars, ethnic restaurants, and shops led to the portrayal of the place as the ‘gateway to the world’ as well as ‘a foreign country in Seoul’ (Moon, G.R., 2009). Media descriptions of the area as being a centre of entertainment culture as well as a shopping paradise have encouraged the city government to promote Itaewon as the centre of tourism and cultural exchange. The presence of diverse ethnic populations and different customs has led to the designation of Itaewon as one of the Global Cultural Zones in Seoul. Although it first emerged in the urban landscape of Seoul as the site of a US military base, Itaewon began to transform as the US presence in the area dwindled when the decision was made to relocate the military installation elsewhere.1 At the same time, as the number of immigrants from nonWestern countries (outside Europe and the US) increased, the town became a hip and cosmopolitan entertainment district where a visitor could enjoy various ethnic foods as well as night-time activities. While vestiges of the Cold War still remain, the area has become imbued with multiple layers of cultural representations as increasing numbers

of foreigners from Southeast Asia and Africa have begun to produce visual markers in a landscape previously dominated by the American influence.