The underground mall at the Seoul Express Bus Terminal is closing for year long renovations on May 31st, 2011. The mall has been around forever; it's been over 30 years since it has opened and I have no recollection whatsoever of it ever having closed down for a long period of time.
Like the renovations being done at Gangnam Metro Station, the mall is certainly to resurface bright and shiny, all new and hi-tech, donning the face of Seoul in the current era. And somehow that makes me feel sad.
There are certain characteristics of Seoul that I would like to be preserved; I was immensely disturbed when they did away with all the food stalls lining the streets of Jongno, when the construction laws were loosened and modern high rise buildings started to spring up between the old and collapsing hanoks of Insadong, when the traditional antique street market in Dongdaemun was hauled away into another modern style building.
Modernisation isn't always the answer, especially if the charm of the place is lost in the process. Or perhaps I'm just an old fuddy-duddy who doesn't like change, who would like things to remain exactly as it is in one's memory.
I liked the underground mall at SEBT because it was the closest thing to a traditional market in the Gangnam area. The prices were cheap and flexible, you could banter with the shop owners like neighbors, it was the perfect place to buy basics and essential clothing items, and the abundance of merchandise available made for excellent window shopping.
I made a last trip before the renovations start. The shops are having major clearance sales as they will be back next year and stock has to go. I also went to take some photos. I had never ever thought of taking pictures of this place (during those 30 years) as it was a "constant" in Seoul life, but as it will never be the same, I wanted to take some images as reminders. Sentimental sap, I am.
Tons of photos: