chapter  9
17 Pages

Mapping the Hong-Dae area in Seoul: a new and unstable economic space?


Introduction The Hong-dae area, named after Hong-ik University, is located in the Mapo district, one of 25 autonomous districts in Seoul. The Hong-dae area consists of several units of a Dong, the smallest administrative unit. The size of the Mapo district is 23.87 km² and it covers 3.9 per cent of Seoul, while the Hong-dae area is roughly 0.66 km² (Hong-ik Environmental Development Institution (HEDI), 2004). The development of the artistic atmosphere of the area began in the 1950s, when the Hong-ik Art College was established. During the 1980s, the area increasingly took on characteristics of an art district filled with the small studios of art students. Art-related businesses and art academies mushroomed and local events began to take place sporadically. Later, in the 1990s, live clubs, in which bands played punk and rock ’n’ roll, started emerging, contributing to the progress of a vibrant local music scene. The area became widely known for its lively atmosphere created by students, young artists and musicians and even appeared in tourist guidebooks, such as the Lonely Planet Korea (2004). Various urban amenities and culture-related businesses have also agglomerated. For example, 69 per cent of the clubs in Seoul were located within the Hong-dae area in 2000 (Seoul Development Institute (SDI),1 2000). According to a survey conducted in 2004, at the time there were approximately 100 art academies, 219 studios of art, industrial design, film, music, media, photography, architecture, IT content, game content, public relations (PR), and fashion, 92 publishing-related companies, 46 craft shops, 11 book shops, 20 art shops, 5 theatres, 16 galleries, and 50 clubs (HEDI 2004). According to a map called the Hong-dae Vicinity Culture and Tourism Map drawn in 2008, the number of cafés and bars amounts to almost 60. District-wise, the number of businesses related to publishing, media, broadcasting and IT within the Mapo district currently comprises 11 per cent of those in Seoul (Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), accessed 2010). Small shops are clustered along the narrow lanes and street hawkers sell products ranging from handicraft artworks to trendy accessories. All of them together create a unique site and contribute to the area’s reputation as one of the trendiest parts of Korea.