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Monday, September 18, 2006

Korea Nat'l Housing Corp. becomes "Humansia"

I must have been searching for info about the present state of apartment construction work in what soon is only remembered as Nan'gok in Sillim 7-dong, Southern Seoul when I encountered a previously unheard term "Humansia." Turned out "Humansia" is the new brand, or signboard, of the Korea National Housing Corporation (Taehan Chut'aek Kongsa), defined as "not just a housing brand" but a new "urban brand" denoting the "creation of urban space good to live in and economically competitive, and public company realizing residential welfare" according to an introductory article in the real estate pages of Seoul Economy. Accordingly, the homepage of the corporation displays only the "Humansia" brand, and the old homepage is, well, outright termed as "old": old.jugong.co.kr.

Housing corporation continues the imaginative use of linguistic entities associated with English languages in naming its new brand. The use of the first component "human" demands no further explanation, as the subtitle to "Humansia" is in'gan chungsim tosi, "human-centered city". The second component "sia" remains murkier for my linguistic perception, but according to the article in the above link it stands for "wide space, a site/lot" (넓은 공간, 대지 [垈地?]). It remains to be seen whether the name, which will be applied not only to residential houses but also to all other buildings in teh blocks, will be written in Roman or Korean alphabet. I'd think it'll be in Roman letters, since the brand design seems to be always that way.

An interesting development indeed; the government-owned housing corporation enters the housing brand market with the stated reason that the housing brand market is "excessively confused and competed" (from the above link). It doesn't make sense to be only cynical towards such signboard change: improvement in the image of the public sector housing might at least alleviate the real and perceived increase of social polarization (or then it might heighten the drive of the private sector to distinguish itself further...).

Samsung Apartment in Mok-dong in the foreground, repainted Raemian behind
A recent piece of news in Hankyoreh was that apartment blocks are forbidden to repaint their old names to match the "apartment brands" that the original construction companies are currently sporting. Thus, in a market situation when the term "apartment" (ap'at'û 아파트) in the apartment block name lacks to convey the idea of development and modernity, "Samsung Apartment" is not allowed to become "Samsung Raemian", or Hyundai Apartment to become "Hyundai I-Park", or "Dawoo Apartment" to become "Prugio" and so on. Seems that those already did the repaint job are allowed to remain so, while the future offenders are levied a hefty fine of five million won (4000 €). (What is 5 mil W compared to anticipated housing price hikes?

And yes, the new apartments in former Nan'gok, to which residents have started moving in since the end of last month, are also branded "Humansia", as can be seen for example from the official site of the "redevelopment right owners' association" (that means those are entitled to acquire an apartment as it's been their property that was redeveloped).

Nan'gok in 2006, from KD News;
see Nan'gok in 2000-2002 in an earlier entry

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