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Friday, May 12, 2006

changing the names of Sillim-dong and Bongcheon-dong?

I have missed the shocking but after all not surprising piece of news about the plans to change the names of Shillim-dong and Bongcheon-dong to something new, mostly in order to hide the image and the fact that these areas have been sites of vast and numerous hillside settlements (taltongne) and home for lots of poor people.

Chosun Ilbo has told about the plans of Gwanak-gu administration already on July last year; see also "Manmulsang" on thoughts and stories on those two dongs.

The idea of name change has been entertained and even attempted several times since the 1980s, but legislation always turned out to be the problem and city authorities never approved of the plans. Now that the local administration law has changed so that place name change can be decided on the local level when certain conditions are fulfilled, Gwanak-gu has begun to proceed.

Gwanak-gu administration had received a request for a name change on June 2, 2005 before the plans became public:
I am a resident of Daewoo Prugio [apartments] in Bongcheon 3-dong.
Now that many place names changes are taking place, my opinion is that Bongcheon-dong with its deeply ingrained hillside neighborhood image needs a new name. Even though it has become an area of big apartment blocks, property prices are falling because of the name. Even compared to Sillim-dong...
For example there's a 50 million won [42000€] difference in price between Sillim Prugio and us despite of similar circumstances.
After the anme change plans became more public on July 2005, Gwanak-gu administration received a lot of response and petitions in support, like this one from June 24, 2005:
I was happy to read the news that the name of Bongcheon-dong is going to change. Seoulites and Busanites as well, when hearing that you live in Bongcheon-dong, look at you as you were living in a shantytown. There are many neighborhoods which are much worse than Bongcheon-dong, but only that place is unfavorably thought of. Also people around me avoid answering or tell that they live in front of SNU when asked where they live. So I was really happy that the dong name will be changed, but then I read on the 22nd on Chosun Ilbo that Bongcheon bon-dong will be left as such and other dongs will get new names. Was the newspaper wrong or is that true? This is not fair. What have the Bongcheon bon-dong people done wrong?
Please don't exclude Bongcheon bon-dong from the effort to shed the image of a hillside neighborhood (taltongne). I also hesitate answering the question 'where do you live', and I don't want to hear people say 'oh, you live in a shantytown' any more.
On November 2005 the Gwanak-gu administration received a petition from a citizen to proceed with the dong name change plan, argued on the basis of the negative image of Bongcheon-dong and Shillim-dong, which "despite of being on the level of Gangnam as far as comforts of living are concerned, the image of the area is not good and the real estate prices do not go up because of the unfavorable image." (Reading the petition further, the citizen really isn't shy about her or his intention to get the housing prices rising.)

Gwanak administration answers among other things, that something is going on in regard to the name change. Since 1995, there has been three attempts or plans to change the names, but to no avail due to administrative and technical difficulties.
At the moment the opinion for a name change among the residents is strong, and on August 2005 a public hearing for about the district name change , and on November 2005 information events in each dong were held, residents' opinion survey at the end of 2006 will be done, after which a proposal for dong name change is expected to come out. [Bad translation A.L.]

Herald Kyôngje written just recently on the topic, mentioning also cases of subway stations in which name change has already been done: Guro Gongdan --> Guro Digital Danji, Garibong --> Gasan Digital Danji.

A pic from an entry two years ago which should show what kind of a change has taken place in Bongcheon-dong.

Updates will follow.

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