I sometimes take my Korean skills* for granted living in Korea, until I meet someone like my ex who speaks little Korean and has a struggle getting beyond any basic task outside of Itaewon. While her lack of Korean skills are understandable up to a point (there is little pressure for anglophones in Seoul to learn Korean, and there are surprisingly few affordable and effective classroom resources in which to do so), it is sad that she and others like her are missing so much.
Some would be more obvious than others. Using literal or slightly altered versions of the meanings, nudged along with a little of each name's history, Yongsan-gu would be Dragon Hill, Chung-gu could be Central City, and Chongno (Jongno) can be Bell Street. Tongdaemun-gu (Dongdaemun) would be East Gate and Sŏdaemun-gu (Seodaemun) would be West Gate, even though the actual gate has long since disappeared.
|(a real place, but not in Seoul)|
Kangnam (Gangnam) could be a more literal "River South" or "South River," but perhaps also "South Bank" or "South Han." The problem with that is that while Kangdong (Gangdong) would be East Bank and Kangbuk would be North Bank, that makes Kangsŏ (Gangseo) "West Bank." Just that one, we'll call West River.
How about Nowon-gu (蘆原區)? A name that sounds in English like not a single soul is there actually is formed from the Chinese characters for reeds and rushes (蘆) and prairie, meadow, or plain (原). How pleasant it would be to reside on that rocky peak-abutting plain and pass a "Welcome to" sign that says Reed Meadow (just below "Nowon-gu," in English).
Of course, we'd have to take poetic license with some of them. The second character in Mapo (麻浦) means shore or beach (since it's along the river), but the first one can be flax, sesame, or even hemp. Though I grind up fresh flaxseed and mix it in with my oatmeal every day, flax just sounds too close to flatulent to be a pleasant-sounding place name. Though the appropriate name would depend on which kind of ma is meant by Mapo, for now I think Sesame Beach or Sesame Shores has a nice ring. Frankly, "Hemp Beach" might attract the wrong kind of people.
** As for Chinese characters, about ten years ago, I tested myself with a Japanese kanji book and I could at that time write 100 and read about 300. However, I have a knowledge of several more hundred characters' pronunciation as word blocks in Korean, even if I am unable to recognize them in their Sinicized form. Again, that I am so piss-poor at hantcha is a personal shortcoming on my part.