Korea's Apartment Mystery

A French geographer investigates the startling prevalence of apartment buildings in Seoul.
October 25, 2003, 9am PDT | David Gest
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"When French geographer Valerie Gelezeau first came to Seoul in 1990 to research the city's street networks, she was struck by something else looming above her: the unmistakable presence of Seoul's apartments." In a new book, Gelezeau examines these " 'danji' and their complicated relationship with Korea's modernization." The apartments, originally intended to be temporary, have lasted well over 30 years, and cheap construction continues. "I'm wondering if that's connected to a kind of Asian mentality, where Asian cultures have a different conception of time, and would put less value on building materials," says Gelezeau. A Seoul architect instead believes that "Koreans have a lot of money-oriented thoughts...Instead of building for living purposes, apartments are being built for investments."

Thanks to David Gest

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Published on Friday, October 24, 2003 in Korea Herald
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