Sewoon Sanga – Retail megastructure turned hipster hangout in Seoul

This Sunday I stopped by the Dosi sanghwe marketplace held at the Sewoon Sanga Electronics Plaza. I think this article describes it best as a “megastructure.” It’s located right next to what I call the “lighting district” (because there’s a bunch of lighting and lamp stores down the street) and surrounded by hole-in-the-wall industrial shops selling pipes, rubber tires, you name it. From the article:

Sewoon Sangga was designed by the architect Kim Swoo-Geun during the long era of developmentalist dictatorship in South Korea, when planning and building an industrial economy, fast, took precedence over everything else. The first part of the name means “attracts all the energy of the world”, while the second means “shopping mall”.

Accordingly, the building is dramatic. It consists of four interlinked sections (one since demolished) that are together the size of a small town, cutting a rectangular path through the alleys and winding streets of the historic city and a post-Korean War refugee settlement.

Owen Hatherley, Dezeen.com

Hip coffee shops and eateries have moved into some of the vacant retail spaces, and on the weekends it often hosts flea and handicraft markets. The Dosi Sanghwe market, a “future-oriented market brand which aims to reanalyze accepted norms and values by working with various urban creators” was held twice this fall here. It’s hosted by Urban Play (kor) whose mission is to “realize a sustainable city through building neighborhood lifestyle services centered on local content.” Basically the market promotes local creators in a space that’s synonymous with urban renewal.

I filmed a little of my tour around the market and mini haul, which you can see here:

As much as I love hipster coffee shops and handicrafts sellers, what really impressed me when I first visited was the view from the roof. You can take the elevator (located at the end of the plaza near the view of Jongymyo shrine) to the ninth floor to the rooftop.

First time I came up here I was really struck by the coexistence of urban old and new. Not traditional and modern, but the remnants of the city as it rapidly industrialized, seen in the almost shantytown-like buildings, contrasted with the modern skyscrapers in the background.

Namsan Tower in the distance
View of the Sewoon Sanga, you can see the white tents of the flea market on either side of the walkway connecting the buildings
Speaking of hipster coffee, Tiger Coffee always has a long line.
Rooftop seating area

Sewoon Sanga also cuts through the Chunggyecheon river, one of my favorite places in Seoul. It’s a short walk from Euljirosamga (Line 3) Exit 5. Google Map here.

5 Comments

  1. Wonderful tour. Yes, I too, was surprised to see a ‘slummier’ side of Seoul. You always see the crisp modern side of the city and assume that’s like that everywhere. Shopping!!!! Gotta love those little crafty booths and secondhand items. oH, and the food goes without saying 😛

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Loved your little Seoul vlog!! It’s so much fun seeing the real city not only what’s shown on tv series or films – not that I’ve ever seen Seoul in any film but you know what I mean. 😉 Those little stalls are so lovely, and oh! your train stations and trains look so clean!! 😁 I think I should film Berlin trains and stations. 😉 And I love those herbal tea bags – what flavours were they?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I’m trying to capture bits of the everyday to look back on later. The transit in Seoul is really well done–clean and safe and timely. The teas were a medley of fruit and black and green teas. I think in the video I had an orange flavored one. Your question reminds me I meant to illustrate their ingredients — thank you for the reminder😃

      Liked by 1 person

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