SEOUL, South Korea — As South Korean electronics companies dominate the export scene, the Seoul Metropolitan Government continues to encourage its citizens to pursue their dreams of opening their own businesses.
Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and SK Holdings are among the most profitable companies of South Korea. While these brands are known in the international stage, the Seoul Metropolitan Government had launched new avenues for those interested in start-ups.
As part of “I.Seoul.U,” the South Korean capital’s “third generation open city brand,” Seoul Special City opened the Re-Sewoon project and the Seoul Startup Hub to assist aspiring entrepreurs.
The Re-Sewoon or Makercity Sewoon in Jongno-gu, Seoul operates about 360 stores specializing in electronic and mechanical devices. The main building in the area, Sewoon Hall, also offers office spaces for start-ups, particularly to university students who want to pursue their dreams as they also get to participate in manufacturing production through emerging technologies.
Originally used as an air defense zone during the Korean War, refugees started moving into the Sewoon Sangga and formed a shanty town, initiating the start of the business cycle in the area. To address the population influx, the Seoul Metropolitan Government started building citizen apartments and basic infrastructure.
In 1967, the Sewoon Arcade was completed, becoming the first commercial and residential complex in South Korea. In the following decade, it became the center of electronics industry following the emergence of radio-television engineering institutes in the area.
When residents started moving from Jongno to Gangnam in the 1980s, Sewoon Sangga lost its glory as the core business district of Seoul. There were then talks of demolition and redevelopment of the shopping complex.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon introduced the “Re-Sewoon” or establishing project in 2014 to revitalize the business district while also preserving its appearance. The project includes reviving a high-rise pedestrian bridge between Sewoon Arcade and Daelim Arcade, as well as constructing a public walkway connecting Sampoong Arcade, Jinyang Arcade and Namsan circulation roads.
Aside from housing entrepreneurs, Sewoon also has its tourist spots.
The rooftop of Sewoon Hall offers a view of UNESCO World Heritage site Jongmyo Shrine, a Confucian royal shrine during the Korean Joseon Dynasty. From the rooftop, you can also observe where the “old” Seoul meets the “new” one as old buildings from the 1970s are still there while the new ones are on the other side. A view of the iconic Namsan Tower can also be seen from the rooftop.
Aside from its rooftop, the first Korean complex building is also well-known for its square-shaped courtyard in its center. It has become a popular filming location for dramas, music videos and commercial ads.
Going way below the building, an exhibit of the Chosun Dynasty relic can be seen on the building’s first floor. It was excavated during the construction of the Sewoon Arcade. The government opted to construct the building on top of the relic so as to preserve the historical artifacts.
An electronics museum is also situated on the side of Sewoon Arcade, showing how Koreans initially used old American gadgets during the war and then proceeded to make their own equipment. Samples of products sold in the center are also displayed in the museum.
A tour of the hidden places in Sewoon, Cheonggye and Daerim district is available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during weekdays. Meetup is at Sewoon Square, which can be accessed through subway Line 3, Jongno3ga station, exit 12. Interested visitors may contact +82-2-2278-0811 or visit http://sewoonplaza.com/.
The rooftop of Sewoon Hall offers a spectacular view of Seoul. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray
Sewoon Hall’s courtyard is a popular filming location for Korean dramas, music videos and commercial ads. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray
A relic of old government offices during the Chosun Dynasty has been preserved on the first floor of Sewoon Hall. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray
An electronics museum on Sewoon Plaza shows the story of innovation and technological development of Seoul, South Korea. Seoul Metropolitan Government/Digital Chosunilbo
Night view of Sewoon Hall. Seoul Metropolitan Government/Digital Chosunilbo
Seoul Startup Hub
Opened in 2018, the Seoul Startup Hub located in Mapo-gu is the largest startup support center in South Korea. The 10-story building serves as a control tower of 23 startup infrastructures scattered across the capital.
The first three floors of the building is open to all Seoul citizen while the fourth to eighth floors are used as offices and rest spaces. The ninth and tenth floors, meanwhile, are utilized as education spaces, where seminars and events related to entrepreneurship are held.
Exhibition spaces are also allotted on the first and third floors which show a startup gallery with the history of 3D printing, the “Startup of the month,” a consultation booth and a startup information drive.
Sample products of 3D printing are on exhibit at the Seoul Startup Hub. Seoul Metropolitan Government/Digital Chosunilbo
More than 200 seats for co-working spaces are available for residents at the Seoul Startup Hub. Seoul Metropolitan Government/Digital Chosunilbo
Rest areas are also available for those who are working on their startups at Seoul Startup Hub. Seoul Metropolitan Government/Digital Chosunilbo
The hub also offers free 212 seats of co-working space for startup activities. Seoul citizens who want to start their own business can use these spaces any time. It also provides professional consulting for those who would like to open their own start-ups.
Aside from aspiring entrepreneurs, the Seoul Startup Hub also houses investors and working mentors in various fields to assist those who want to pursue a startup.
Similar to Station F in Paris, the world’s largest startup facility, and Startup Delta in Amsterdam, Seoul Startup Hub strives to become a model ecosystem of start-ups across the world.
Editor’s note: The tour to Seoul was hosted by Digital Chosunilbo, in partnership with Seoul Metropolitan Government’s City Branding Division. At no stage does the host organization has a say on the stories generated from the coverage, interviews conducted, publication date and story treatment. Content is produced solely by Philstar.com following editorial guidelines.
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