Yeongdeungpo, an Unlikely Investment Hotspot

Last time, I mentioned Yeongdeungpo as another potential investment hotspot. Again, most people think I’m out of my mind when I say this. But that’s kind of the point. I spent a year living there, but it is a place that most Seoul residents turn their noses up at. It has long had a reputation for homelessness, gangsterism and prostitution, and also happens to be a bit tougher and rougher than your average Korean neighborhood. Outside my building, some poor shop owner had painted ‘소변금지’ (‘urinating prohibited’) on a piece of wood, in the forlorn hope of convincing passing drunks not to mark his territory as their own.

A bit more redevelopment, a bit less sleaze, and at some point, Yeouido salarymen might hit on the idea of moving a kilometre or two down the road and saving a ton of money.

So why on earth would I want to invest there? Well, some pretty big money is riding on a turnaround. Times Square—the huge new shopping centre there—is home to pretty much every snooty fashion brand you can name, and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. When I lived just across the road from there, the site was just a nasty old textile factory; now it has Louis Vuitton and Co. in abundance.

I used to enjoy living there—there’s a ton of choices for eating and drinking, and transport is pretty good. The gangsters and prostitutes seem to be slowly moving out (to where, I don’t know), and though far from becoming gentrified, Yeongdeungpo is seeing a fair amount of redevelopment.

Here’s the thing though: when I lived there, I was working in Yeouido. I looked at apartments in both, and found that rents were about 50% lower in Yeongdeungpo. They are right next to each other, though! A bit more redevelopment, a bit less sleaze, and at some point, Yeouido salarymen might hit on the idea of moving a kilometre or two down the road and saving a ton of money.

Daniel Tudor

About Daniel Tudor

Daniel Tudor is the Korea correspondent for The Economist. His book, ‘Korea: The Impossible Country,’ will be published by Tuttle in spring 2011. He often uses obscure British expressions which you can look up here. Find out more at daniel-tudor.com

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