Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cheonggye vendors to be displaced again?

I read this story about the displaced Cheonggye vendors who now inhabit the old Dongdaemun Stadium grounds in the Hankyoreh last week. Seems the government has decided to turf them out yet again to make way for a new park proposal.

For these vendors, the demolition moves represent yet another in a long line of broken promises from the Seoul government. This was not their original place of work: they were moved here from the Hwanghak-dong flea market after former Seoul city mayor Lee Myung-bak implemented a restoration project of the Cheonggye stream in 2003. At that time, the vendors believed the former mayor’s pledge to build a world-renowned flea market. However, the pledge changed shortly after incumbent mayor Oh Se-hoon took office in May last year, as one of Oh’s campaign promises was to build a park and a design center nearby Dongdaemun.
The above mentioned flea market idea had been met with a lot of support from both grassroots groups and intellectuals like Cho Myoung Rae, an urban scholar who helps run a research institute on urban issues and city development.

Anyways, I seemed to recall Christian, of CINA blog fame, wrote a bunch of dispatches from that struggle back in 2004 when the vendors were originally displaced as part of the Cheonggye stream restoration (read: building of world's largest fountain, or pumped in stream). The city hired some kind of mafia to do the actual work of displacement which generated a great deal of public support for the vendors, and the ramshackle idea of accommodating them in the unused stadium, especially after violent confrontations between vendors, police, and hired thugs escalated (video) into the end of November of that year.

Matt, over at gusts of popular feeling, has posted some pics and opinions showing the redevelopment of the area that the vendors used to inhabit, which has proceeded quite quickly since 2004. If I have time in the coming week, I'll try to post a bit on the political economy of redevelopment, which I've tried to discuss a bit on this blog earlier, as more money is sunk into the Seoul property markets and the city creates various projects to attract it. Some people cynically brand this a approach a new style of developmentalism, but as we can see, especially from matt's post and the others, it is one that benefits few.

The new Lotto palace going in near where most of the vendors used to work.

1 comment:

  1. Adam WolfendenJune 05, 2007 6:24 PM

    Hey Jaime and Matt,

    I'm involved with Friends of the Earth Sydney and we're looking to put together an exhibition in the lead up to apec about previous protest to APEC. We want this to challenge notions of dissent and the right of people to protest against such illegitimate forums.

    If either of you have any materials, images, footage from the protests or the "pepper gate" hearings that would be appropriate then drop me a line on apec[at]