Yongsan land values soar on high-speed rail wings

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Yongsan land values soar on high-speed rail wings

Some folks in the Yongsan district are dreaming of riches these days, while others are searching for a Prozac prescription.
Due in part to the faltering economy, many of the area’s electronics retailers are anxious over dwindling receipts. Nowadays, many of the district’s 5,000 electronics stores have difficulty keeping up with the rent.
At the same time, the anticipated arrival of a high-speed railroad station by 2005 has led to a spike in real estate prices. Landowners are breaking out the champagne.
“The seat you’re sitting on is worth 40 million won ($8,518) per square meter,” says a 63-year-old restaurant owner who has served boiled pork and potatoes in Yongsan for three decades, and whose eatery abuts the development zone for the high-speed rail.
The brothels in the Yongsan Station area aren’t excluded from the land rush, either. Real estate values in the red-light district also hover around the 40 million mark. Similarly, around Yongsan park, in Yongsan-dong and along Hangang Road, real estate valued at 10 million won per square meter a few years ago has spiked to between 20 and 50 million won.
Besides a new high-speed rail station, others changes are in store for this area. The U.S. Army has confirmed it will relocate most of its troops stationed at Yongsan Garrison, opening the way for development of that site, and the city has earmarked a 330-hectare (815-acre) plot from Seoul Station to the Hangang bridge for redevelopment. A new national museum will open nearby by 2005.
“Real estate prices may jump above 20 to 50 million won [per square meter] once merchants at the electronics market move next to the high-speed rail station and commercial buildings go up in the area,” said Park Eun-mee, a real estate agent.
The Ministry of Construction and Transportation is considering measures to safeguard the district from possible speculation. “There were times when even dogs walked around with a 10,000-won bill in their mouths,” sighed Choi-Byeong-gok, who runs an electronics shop in the area.
Mr. Choi, 45, who opened his store 13 years ago, now worries he may have to close his doors for good. Pushed by a substantial drop in sales, he’s fired nine of his 12 employees. A store next to Mr. Choi’s was selling computers with Pentium chips at deep discounts, but for two hours not a single customer walked inside. In the past, the shop was a hot destination for computer users and students. Store owners complain that Internet companies and large wholesalers are the major cause of their plummeting customer base.


by Yang Young-yu
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