A walk through Yongsan: the complications of urban renewal
This excursion will be like no other, as much of what we will visit is already demolished and gone. We will walk all the way around the empty Yongsan Railyard, the site of the failed Yongsan Dream Hub project, and visit numerous urban renewal sites along the way. The tour is a little over 3 kilometers long and there will be a lot of walking on flat land.
We will meet at the top of the front steps of Yongsan Station, where one can get an appreciation of the scale of urban renewal that has hit the area. From there, we will cross the overpass to Yongsan Electronics Market and visit the former site of the Terminal Building, an important part of the electronics market, now a hotel construction site. Next, we will walk through Seobu Ichon-dong, a riverside community that has a new lease on life now that the Dream Hub project is cancelled. We will stop at Saenamteo, a beautiful holy place high on historical relevance for Catholicism. Once an execution site for major criminals and traitors, it became a martyr site for Catholics through four major persecutions. Eleven of those martyred here were canonised as Catholic saints, and the remains of nine martyrs are still interred there. We will visit a small museum on the grounds of Saenamteo and have a small look around the magnificent architecture of the 1987-built church. Next, we will walk through an old neglected Hanok neighbourhood past Trump World 3 to reach the former Yongsan Railway Hospital, more recently absorbed into the Joongang University Yongsan Hospital complex, which now sits abandoned.
Last, we will visit the location of the so-called "Yongsan Disaster," a highly politicised urban renewal zone that claimed the lives of five evictee protesters and one police officer on January 19, 2009. Since demolition, the area has become an empty field full of garbage and reeds, a black hole in the center of a high-price real estate area. We will revisit the former site of Namildang, where the deadly rooftop battle took place, and imagine the events that took place there, which should garner sympathy for both protesters and police but also criticism for their respective strategies.
For those who want to stick around after, we will go to Yongsan Tent Food Village, relocated last year into the basement of a nearby highrise.
We will meet at Yongsan station (Line 1) at 3:00 p.m., at the top of the stairs, under the big signpost that reads "용산역 (Yongsan Station)" - see image below.
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