Friday, November 06, 2009

All Hail Tom Coyner!

Tom Coyner is one of the snazziest commentators on Korean culture. His webpage, Tom Coyner, is cool, but I especially like what he writes for Korean papers.

This time, he argues that at the same time as Korea tries so hard to build its brand, Korea continues bulldozing the kinds of neighborhoods and landmarks that would do the most for Korea's ACTUAL brand, rather than just the manufactured one. Yet again, the gap between what Korea IS, and how Korea wants to be seen, reveals itself in sharp relief. Give it a read. I totally agree... sure, some of these neighbourhoods ARE decrepit and DO need revitalization... but another rectangular class and concrete eyesore is the LAST thing Seoul needs these days to become a unique, interesting city with neighbourhoods that each leave strong, and different, impressions on visitors.


dokebi said...


조안나 said...

Yep, but this is capitalism and if people want to buy apartments in concrete monstrosities, then they're gona keep knocking down the old neighborhoods and making new apartment complexes. And as far as tourism/ visitors as you say, keep in mind that the majority of tourists are not wandering through neighborhoods, they are Japanese tourists shopping in Myeongdong or some Chinese tourists checking out Gyeongbukgung. And if you're refering to us as visitors, I don't think anyone is going to leave Korea just because the knock down some neighborhoods.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't disagree, there's a whole neighborhood about 200 feet from my apartment that's in the process of being torn down, and it's a shame. I'm sure at least a thousand people or more must have been evicted/ bought out. But that's just how the world works, unfortunately. At home they tear down one old beautiful house on a big piece of property to build 5 mcmansions (or they did before the bubble burst).. we're no better at home.

Brian said...

It's an urban sprawl familiar to Pittsburghers.

In Suncheon, for example, they're building up the areas on the north edge of town, with rows of new apartments and all the shops and facilities to go along with it, and they're putting in a huge development between Suncheon and Yeosu on what is currently farmland. Meanwhile, downtown Suncheon is boarding itself up, nothing but a few soju halls and machine part sellers.

I hear a lot about how land is so precious and scarce in South Korea, but they're certainly building over it at an incredible rate.