Logger Script Gyeongridan-gil - rise and fall of a typical street in Seoul, South Korea & a perfect example of gentrification

Gyeongridan-gil - rise and fall of a typical street in Seoul, South Korea & a perfect example of gentrification

August 3, 2019

Seoul is the city of dreams and failures for many of Koreans and also foreigners. Its like a magnet, that attracts people. Therefore Seoul became the melting pot of Korea. It is the dream of countryside people to move to the city and make it there. 

Also the city shows the fast movement of  Korean

 

society and the fast moving mindset of the people. "Balli balli" is a famous Korean term, which perfectly expresses the lifestyle of Koreans. It means somethink like  "be quick" or "do it faster" . Therefore you can assume that longevity and patience is not really the strength of the people in Korea. Everyone is always in a rush, everything has to be done quickly, everyone is expecting a quick result and sucess. 

This aspect is also to be seen in the developement of hip urban districts. 

The street named Gyeongridan is a prefect example of a typical rise and fall of a hip district in Seoul. 

 

The street is located nearby a district called Itaewon, which is famous for its international flair, clubs, restaurant and nightlife scene. 

Following the street it will start at a crossing next to an American military base and ending almost in front of the luxurious Grand Hyatt Hotel. 

What is adding to the flair of the street is that is is always going up the hill, called Namsan, which is a famous spot in Seoul, because on the top is the landmark of Seoul, the Seoul Tower. From various points of the streets, you are able to view the famous Seoul Tower. 

 

Like most of the areas in the Northern parts of Seoul, it is an old neighbourhood with low-rise residential buildings and small hidden streets and side streets. The original flair was therefore mostly of an old, quiet and run-down area with an old-established community of families. The small shops were owned by elderly to support their small pension. 

 

However sooner or later the area slowly came to the fore of the younger generation. As the rent was relatively affordable and it was nearby the lively Itaewon. More and more shops, like small restaurants and cafes opend and quickly it became the new hip area. That was about 5 years ago. The process of gentrification happend fast. A lot of the smaller shops closed and more cafes, bars and restaurants opend their doors. The old flair dimished over the next few years. The streets was filled with couples, who found here the perfekct dating spot and with party folk, who could find plenty of drinking places. 

However the last two years the opposite process started. Due to the rising lease costs and market over-saturation, the first smaller businesses had to close. The cost of renting skyrocketed and made it very hard for the shop owners to survive. Additionally the area could not compete any more with other emerging hip areas, so the visiting crowed diminished. Nowadays you see a lot of shops emty with a sign of "임대" (Korean word for "to lease"). The street even became a topic in the media, because of its dramatic rise and fall. It became like a synonym for gentrification. But this process is nothing new in the city Seoul. It is a typical development in many areas and it is also typical for the lifestyle and behaviour of Korean society and Korean customers. People get bored and get excited very fast. If there is a trend, everyone is following it. So it is no surprise that this also affects urban districts. For business it makes it very easy make money very fast, if you are at the right spot on the right time. But it makes it also very risky. Therefore it is especially important for businesses to consider the potential and the risks of the whole area and also find the right time to come and in the worst case also to leave. 

 

 

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