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Saturday, June 05, 2004

(Small businesses) "Remodeling" a marketplace

One among the hundreds of so-called traditional marketplaces (chaerae sijang) has been "remodeled", that is repaired and modernized to compete better with the discount stores and other large-scale retail establishments (Chosun Ilbo). This Ttukto sijang was opened in 1962, and its shopkeepers have been having some hard time after a discount store opened in the vicinity. The traders collected 1/10 of the construction expenses, and Seoul government gave the rest. So now there's an arc-shaped roof, proper sewage, properly paved roads and restored shop spaces. Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak opened the restored market, and politicians who have good use for some extra votes in the supplementary elections today on the 5th.

The renewed part of the marketplace, looks like a sundae alley.

People heard for the article have not very good prospects for the success of the renewed marketplace against the discount store, as there are said to be several marketplace shopkeepers who do their shopping in the neighboring discount store. There are 41 marketplaces which have been granted renewal funds from the Seoul government, and in 17 of these construction has been done. Seoul government is planning to have 160 of the total 312 marketplaces renovated until 2007.
(Around 1990, the official number of "traditional marketplaces" in Seoul was about 400; wonder if the number would have diminished that much in 10 years.)

I wonder if these places would get this much sympathy were they not so central in the political imagination as sites of "ordinary people". We don't see politicians going so much to discount stores or hypermarkets during election campaigning.

Additional story of the northern part of Ttukto Market, where renovation was not done. Seven years ago a road and a parking lot divided the market into a southern and a northern half, after which the latter's downfall begun.
Seems that the southern and the northern half are administratively not treated as one marketplace; the north side shopkeepers are not likely in the same association with the southsiders.

The non-renewed part of the marketplace.
On the left, "21st century eatery" (21 segi punsik), on the right, "Market rice mill" (Sijang pangakan)

Notice again the use of chông (jeong 情) in association with marketplaces. “콩나물을 사더라도 한 줌을 더 주는 정 때문에 재래시장을 계속 찾을 것 같다” and ‘우리 건어물’, ‘김가네 순대국’, ‘윤지포목’ 등 정겨운 이름의 간판

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