Hapjeong-dong, Seoul

The Fight against Gentrification

Photography by Kriza Borromeo


Let me start by saying that these images by no means represent the entirety of Seoul, Korea. Like any metropolitan city, Seoul boasts a vast multitude of neighbourhoods that have their unique makeup. Gangnam for example, a neighbourhood in Seoul that has been popularized by Psy’s Gangnam Style, looks like the complete opposite of what these images portray. Gangnam buildings look like clean-cut diamonds compared to the 80’s glamour that you see before you. Apparently, there have been many neighbourhoods before this that were “renovated” and almost completely rebranded with a squeaky appearance.

I had a short three-day stay in Seoul and experienced perhaps two of the most contrasting views of the city: one in a “university neighbourhood” filled with youths (i.e. the students and hipster foreigners) and businesses that cater to their indulgent, fleeting lifestyle: hidden cafes, friendly hostels and cheap-liquor bars, etc. The other side of my experience played out in an affluent neighbourhood guided by a well-to-do friend who drove me around her luxury car. Needless to say, we frequented boutiques, art galleries and expensive coffee bars. Like I said, polar opposites.

It was great and I wish I had stayed longer; three days is surely not enough. One day, I’m sure I will visit again if only to taste the popular shaved ice concoctions they advertised at every street corner.








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