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Haebangchon (Freedom Village) is a district in Yongsan-gu, in Seoul, South Korea, at the foot of Namsan (South Mountain). At one end is the 108 Heaven stairway, which is now just a steep hill but was once the accessway to a Shinto shrine (now demolished). It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in central Seoul, but also one of its most cosmopolitan. Before 1945 it was where the Japanese 20th Division held target practice; after World War II the area was taken over by the US army, which converted the adjacent Japanese garrison into the Yongsan (Dragon Mt) military base, but Haebangchon itself became a shanty town for refugees from the north. In recent years it has beome home to many English-speaking people from around the world, and many of the businesses are foreign-owned. It has also become a trendy neighborhood, with upscale restaurants and bars. Twice a year the neighborhood hosts an independent Hae Bang Chon (HBC) music festival; the legendary Kimchee Cowboys have performed at every one since the event began in 2006.
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