Namdaemun Market set to receive face-liftNamdaemun Market will undergo a major face-lift to become a “global marketplace,” backed by financial support from the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Small and Medium Business Administration (SMBA) and Shinsegae.
Seoul city and SMBA will each give 2.5 billion won ($2.25 million), and Shinsegae will contribute 1.5 billion won, over a three-year period to revamp Namdaemun Market into a major tourist attraction.
According to the Federation of Namdaemun Market Shop Owners, the 600-year-old market draws 10,000 foreign tourists per day, a mere 2.5 percent of the total visitors to the market.
This contrasts with the comparatively heavy foreign tourist traffic in nearby Myeong-dong.
“Although Shinsegae is close to Myeong-dong, we do not have as many foreign tourists as Lotte Department Store and its duty-free shop,” said a Shinsegae official.
“We feel this is due to a lack of interest in the broader Namdaemun Market area.”
Jung District has plans to re-develop Namdaemun Market into a major tourist attraction, linking Myeong-dong, Shinsegae, Namdaemun Market, Seungnyemun, the Mesa Building, the Bank of Korea Money Museum and the Namsan area as a whole.
The project’s key feature includes use of the Pop Corn Hall at the Mesa Building as a major Hallyu, or Korean wave, concert hall. Shinsegae will work with the Korea Musical Theater Association on this aspect of the project.
SMBA will create promotional video clips for overseas audiences and provide other support.
Meanwhile, the shop owners’ federation will hold contests to find the best local artisans and designers operating in the marketplace.
The group aims to increase the annual number of foreign visitors to the market place to 7 million, from its current 3.6 million.
Since 2013, Shinsegae has made various efforts to spark public interest in the market, providing support for new designers and holding events to promote its snack stalls.
“Shinsegae has plans to open a duty-free shop at its main store in Namdaemun, so the market place’s success is closely aligned with Shinsegae’s interests,” said an industry insider.
“Through this cooperation, we will provide a foothold for Namdaemun Market, with its 600 years of history and traditions, to emerge as a global marketplace,” said Jang Jae-young, Shinsegae’s CEO.
BY PARK JUNG-YOUN[firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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