In the heart of Seoul is a small district named Euljiro. Passing through you might not grasp the size of its network of alleyways and back passages. These long and winding paths are roughly home to 10,000 shops and over 50,000 tradespeople, working in the area. The sheer variety of stores and workshops on offer is staggering, selling anything from cement to CCTV systems and creating anything from screws to steel sheets. The saying goes, you could build a tank in Euljiro, such is the variety of skills on offer.
The area was born after the Korean war ended in 1953. Hastily cobbled together using rebar and concrete and speedily erected with little planning or permissions. The idea was that it would help build up the city of Seoul, it’s the area that helped Seoul become what it is today. Sadly, modern Seoul now wants it’s prime central real estate back, to turn into apartments and more shopping areas.
The workers are worried, some have been working there since Euljiro’s workshops were first built, they don’t want to lose their workshops, their livelihoods and their community.
The area is utterly unique, the bustling alleyways, the shouts of orders and phones ringing off the hook, the smell of the machines and beeps from the motorbikes. It’s an incredible place, full of skilled people and textures that only an area like this could have. In the words of one of the workers I met, it would be their eternal sadness if the area was demolished.