Itaewon has long been known as the foreigner’s neighborhood in South Korea.
The area got its name more than four centuries ago, when invading Japanese troops broke into a Buddhist temple there and raped the nuns.
When the Korean government returned to Seoul after the invasion, it allowed nuns who had gotten pregnant to live and raise their babies there at a nursery established for them.
The area was named I Tae Won. "I" means "different," "Tae" means "fetus," and "Won" means "home." Some Japanese troops who surrendered at the end of the war settled in Itaewon, establishing a permanent foreign presence there.
During the 1600s, Itaewon’s name came to mean "large pear tree" because of the trees planted there. There isn’t a single remaining pear tree in Itaewon.
Itaewon is know home to most of Seoul’s expat population.
SOURCE: Bae Woo-ri, Korean language scholar and president of the Korea Toponym Society.