Seoul to swap land with police

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Seoul to swap land with police

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The Seoul Metropolitan Government and National Police Agency announced Thursday that they will push for a land swap deal. The estimated price of the land involved totals 440 billion won ($375 million).

The Seoul Metropolitan Government wants to give up 36,176 square meters (9 acres) of land in Seocho District, southern Seoul, currently occupied by the Seoul Metropolitan Fire Academy, where firefighters are trained, and a 3,671-square-meter parking lot in Jeokseon-dong, Jongno District, central Seoul. In exchange, it hopes to get land belonging to the National Police Agency: 18,524 square meters in Dongdaemun District, central Seoul, where the mobile police force headquarters is located, and 25,823 square meters of land in Changsin-dong, Jongno District.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is planning to build a complex dedicated to the fashion industry in the land behind Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), where the mobile police force headquarters is located. The complex will be open for private lease.

“The Seoul Metropolitan Government will build a center that will help designers and young merchants,” said a high-level official from the local government. “By transferring some of the functions in Changsin-dong, famous for sewing and small manufacturers, we’re planning to build a fashion mecca where designing, manufacturing and sales can be done all together in one place near Dongdaemun.”

The decision was made by the Seoul Metropolitan Government to clarify the nebulous identity of DDP, confirming its focus on fashion and design.

The local government invested 480 billion won in the construction of DDP with the intention of creating a fashion hub in Seoul. Much of DDP’s revenue, however, comes from the wholesale businesses and retailers it houses, as well as non-fashion-related exhibitions and rental fees.

Past exhibitions at DDP were about the popular Korean drama “My Love from the Star” (2013-14) and actress Audrey Hepburn, both decidedly unfocused on fashion.

The deal also benefits the National Police Agency.

When the mobile police force moves to the parking lot in Jeokseon-dong, it will be placed adjacent to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. It will also be closer to places where public demonstrations happen most frequently, including Gwanghwamun Square and the Blue House.

The land in Dongdaemun, where the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s mobile police force headquarters is located, is the largest plot among the land being exchanged. It is highly likely the headquarters will moved to Seocho, where the Seoul Metropolitan Fire Academy is currently located. The fire academy will be transferred to a special area dedicated to fire agencies in Eunpyeong District, northern Seoul, which will be completed by 2018.

BY CHO JIN-HYUNG [shin.sooyeon@joongang.co.kr]

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