Seoul / Gangnam: The City of Four Tools (-1990) : 1,2,3 Hyundai Department Store Apgujeong Branch(1)

Figure 1 Colored area is the proposed apartment district (from 1976.08.15 Yeongdong District Land Redevelopment Plan)

As the trend of entertainment developed into the form of shopping, the areas of housing, education, and consumerism started to overlap and together create a point of intersection at Gangnam, which was Hyundai Department Store. It was where progressive urban development of Gangnam and instant reaction of each era met together. As a part of the apartment district proposed by 1976 Yeongdong District Land Readjustment Plan, Hyundai Apartment was built at Apgujeong, Gangnam. Later in 1978, the Ministry of Education fostered the location of ㄷㅍevery schools to be at a walking distance from the nearby residential area. The area of 14,000m2 at the southeastern corner of Hyundai Apartment complex was designated as a site for a school.(Government, 2007)[1] Mong-kun Chung, CEO of KumKang Corporation found potential in this plot of empty land. According to the building code, an apartment complex also had to be built with a neighboring facility with stores for apartment residents to use. Looking at the precedent of Takashimaya Department Store with a similar condition of the site, Chung proposed the biggest possible store to be built before the school, finally becoming the Hyundai Department Store.(Kim, 2012)[2] However, being the land part of apartment district and proposed school zone, the building had to follow the maximum height of five stories with 41.72% of building coverage ratio.(Monthly Architecture Culture, 1986)[3]

Figure 2 Site plan with the department store plan (from 1986.01. Weekly Architecture Culture)
Figure 3 Brown colored area: parking lot, Axonometric building: Hyundai Department Store (from 2013.01.25 Joongang Daily)

Still the proposal of department store could not solve the need for the school to be built. 3065 high school students of Gangnam District and Seocho District (together as ‘eight school districts’) had to be distributed to other districts due to the shortage of schools. However such need was lost behind the urgent problem of sudden increase in the number of vehicles around Apgujeong and led to the decision of Seoul Metropolitan Facilities Management in April 1986 to transform the empty plot into a paid municipal parking.(Donga Ilbo, 1989)[4] Although named ‘municipal’, 99% of the users were for the department store,since the cars could park free of charge with possession of receipt after the purchase of goods. The department store would pay the charge directly to the Seoul government, but only with one-tenth of the price needed to buy the whole plot. The school was nowhere near to be built due to the high price of the land itself, which was worth thirty billion won. The government demanded after its inspection to close the parking lot for its unfair preference towards the department store. However, Seoul City could counteract by saying the parking lot will be kept until a definite decision for the school to be built.(Kyung Hyang Newspaper, 1989)[5]

Figure 4 Photo of municipal parking lot next to Hyundai Department Store (from 1989.02.24 Kyung Hyang Newspaper)


[1] Government Administration Briefing Special Team. 40 Years of Korean Education. Hans Media, 2007.

[2] Kim, Myung-ji. “Apgujeong Hyundai Apartment that Ju-yung Chung had disapproved.” Chosun Biz, June 06, 2012.

[3] “Hyundai Apartment.” Monthly Architecture Culture, January 1986, 109 .

[4] “Suspicion of favors towards Hyundai Department Store, giving out school area as parking lot.” Donga Ilbo, August 22, 1988.

[5] “Parking lot next to Hyundai Department Store, no change for 4 months after inspection.” Kyung Hyang Newspaper, February 24, 1989.

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