Seoul’s new street addresses begin

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Seoul’s new street addresses begin

The street address system in Korea has long been famous for its ability to confuse and confound.

Get ready for more confusion: Starting July 29, all buildings and streets in Korea will be subject to a new address system that has been in the works for years. But they will be used concurrently with the old addresses until Dec. 31, 2013, after which the new addresses will reign supreme.

But the public doesn’t seem to be ready to embrace their new, legal addresses, even though fresh street signs and building address plates have been up since last October. And some people are squawking because they just don’t like their new addresses.

The present system was introduced by Japan in 1910 during its occupation of Korea and is based on land lot numbers. It’s confusing because the land lots were numbered chronologically, in the order in which buildings were erected, not in street order, making Korean addresses difficult to find. The new system is more modern and logical, but not necessarily popular.

One Presbyterian church in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, will be located at 27, Bongeunsa-ro 63, Gangnam District under the new system. The church is protesting because Bongeunsa is a Buddhist temple in the area.

Other churches in similar predicaments have filed complaints to the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, which is in charge of the project.

Buddhists of the Jogye Order, a Buddhist sect, has officially denounced the plan and will hold a major discussion on the issue with other civic groups, in Seoul today. The sect says eliminating the “dong” in addresses will rob Korea of a cultural heritage 100 years old. Areas known by the suffix dong, or neighborhood, such as Anguk-dong and Gahoe-dong in Seoul, will lose something valuable, the sect says.

Property owners in some of those locations agree with the Buddhists. Neighborhoods such as Seocho-dong and Banpo-dong, both famous for pricey real estate, think something will be missing under the new system, and it may even affect the value of their property. “Who would think we live in Banpo-dong when they hear that our address is Sapyeong Street?” said one Banpo Raemian Firstige Apartment resident.

Other complaints are that the new address system will be an unpleasant step back into the past. One road in Dowon-dong, Incheon, will be called Do Street, which uses the same Chinese character employed during Japanese colonial rule.

Today’s complaints are futile, however, for the deadline to request changes was June 30. The addresses made legal on July 29 will be permanent for the next three years.

You can check your new address at www.juso.go.kr, the official Web site of the Publid Administration Ministry.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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