Sewoon Sangga: the heart and representative icon of Seoul’s Urban Regeneration Project.
Sewoon Sangga is a shopping mall located between Jongno 3-ga and Toegyero 3-ga stations in Jongno-gu, Seoul. It is where the dreams and stories of past generations are recreated for the modern world.
History and Background
Sewoon Sangga was built in 1968, during Park Chung Hee’s dictatorship, by native architect Kim Soo Geun. It was the first modern residential-commercial complex in Korea, with a unique name to match: “Sewoon” means to “attract all the energy of the world”, while “Sangga” means shopping mall. Just as the name suggests, Sewoon Sangga was a Mecca for the electronic industry, and enjoyed economic prosperity in the 1970s. However, the success of Sewoon Sangga started to go downhill when Gangnam and Yongsan districts began to rise to prominence. By the 1990s, Sewoon Sangga and its neighboring areas had decayed dramatically.
Sewoon Again Project
Planned demolition and redevelopment of Sewoon Sangga had been discussed for years, but it was only recently that its regeneration plan was finally announced. In January 2016, the Seoul Metropolitan Government revealed the Sewoon Again Project. The Sewoon Again Project involved structural, economical and community restoration for Jongno-gu.
So what was the outcome of the Sewoon Again Project? Well, what was once a forgotten establishment is now a sleek, hip symbol of renewal and regeneration.
The old 3-story pedestrian deck was repaired and reinforced, now providing an efficient network between Sewoon Sangga and Daelim Sangga.
Additionally, it is still a warm home to creatives, with dozens of small workshops and artsy cafes. Filming location of the popular K-drama, True Beauty, starring Cha Eun Woo and Moon Ga Young, you can stand where they stood at Daerim plaza.
Here, you’ll find plenty of places to relax and have fun, like at the Horangi Cafe that is famous for its Iced Tiger Sugar Latte. Furthermore, I spent some time at the Vintage Lion, a unique beer house that served a funky cocktails, beer, wine as well as non-alcoholic beverages.
On the theme of technology and modernisation, you’ll find incubator spaces like the Living Lab and Makers’ Cube, designed for startup companies and projects. It aims to inspire young creators from near and far.
Last but not least, you should not miss out on the rooftop observatory! You can enjoy an incredible view of downtown Seoul with UNESCO World Heritage site, the Jongmyo Shrine, dead ahead.
Besides the views, Sewoon Sangga is the perfect unintentional photo zone! You don’t need to be a photographer to get the perfect Instagrammable pic here. I would highly recommend you visit here on a clear evening when the sun is setting and the sky is dyed pink and orange.
I really love how the Korean people have completed this urban regeneration project. Sewoon Sangga is a unique renovation that avoided total demolition and redevelopment of its area. By revitalizing the current abandoned buildings, new life is infused into the space while preserving the memories of the place and the people who were there before.
- Weekdays, Saturday: 9:00-19:00 (subject to change)
- Closed Sunday and National Holidays
How to get there
Address: 159 Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
Take subway line 1 to Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station and leave via exit 12. Sewoon Sangga is 5 minutes walk from here. Alternatively, take subway line 5 to Euljiro 4(sa)-ga Station, leave via exit 3 and it is 6 minutes walk from here.