Gangnam to create Korean Wave street

Kim Young-won in Seoul/The Korea Herald
Asia News Network2 November 2012

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Lined by luxury boutiques, trendy bars and high-rise buildings, Gangnam in southern Seoul is the richest district and one of the most popular youth hangouts in the country.

It recently gained international fame thanks to rapper Psy's hit "Gangnam Style" which has been at No. 2 on the Billboard's main chart for six weeks and viewed by hundreds of millions worldwide on YouTube.

The district office is seeking to turn the popularity into a tourist boom with a plan to adorn one of its streets with monuments, a plaza and structures related to Korean pop culture.

The Hallyu (Korean Wave) Star Street will be located on a 1.08-km section in Apgujeong-dong and Cheongdam-dong, home of some of Korea's top entertainment agencies ? S.M. Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and Cube Entertainment.

Frequented by celebrities, the street is one of the most popular places for hallyu fans from home and abroad wanting to see their favorite singers and actors.

"This is one of the most important projects of the district office aiming to diversify, maintain and further spread hallyu worldwide as well as make Gangnam the center for hallyu tourism," the district office said in a statement Friday.

The office has set up a four-stage plan after consultations with various experts in culture, tourism and urban planning.

In the first stage, a sculpture will be set up in front of the headquarters of S.M. Entertainment located on the western end of the street.

In the second stage, the office will replace the flashy and distracting signs of shops on the street and install a media facade, an information facility and handprints along the street.

Decks and information poles will be established in the third stage of the plan between a tourism information center located far left in Apgujeong-dong and the Hallyu Street. The poles, which will provide tourism information including health and beauty services, are expected to help foreigners find various attractions in Gangnam.

In the last stage, streets with three different themes - fashion, health and beauty and environment - will be made in nearby areas. The "Korea Fashion Street," "Well-being Beauty Street" and "Green Tour Line" will be linked to Rodeo Street, a fashion area, and Garosu Street, famous for its cafes restaurants and shopping.

"The project will be done in phases with the help of public agencies and local communities," the official said.

"Large costs for the project and city regulations are the major obstacles. But the project has a national level of significance as it would greatly contribute the government's plan to attract 10 million foreign visitors per year," the official said.