Friday, February 4, 2011

Gu Two - (Gangdong, Gangnam, Gangseo, Geumcheon, Guro)

For the rest of the Gu Project, check out part one (Dobang, Dongdaemun, Dongjak, Eunpyeong, Gangbuk), Gu 3 (Gwanak, Gwangjin, Jongno, Jung, Jungnang), Gu IV: The re-re-re Gu-ining (Mapo, Nowon, Seocho, Seodaemun, Seongdong), and Gu V: Damn Gu-ed! (And here the series ends with Seongbuk, Songpa, Yangcheon, Yeongdeungpo, and Yongsan)

Gangdong-gu




What's the picture of?


A random apartment building. I also took a picture of the local Hyundai Department Store, but amazingly it was even more boring than this.

Where is this gu?

The far east end of Seoul. Gangdong means “east of the river.”

What’s this gu best known for?


The Cheonho area, home of the Hyundai department store. Also, being serviced by the 8 line and the 5 line after it splits in two - easily the most worthless subway lines in Seoul.

When did Jaehak first go there?

I went for a job interview last month.

How were epic walks involved?


I walked from this gu and then crossed the Cheonho Bridge over the Han River on pretty much the coldest day in the history of the world. In my next post, the Gwangjin-gu picture is taken from this bridge on that day.

If I were in Seoul for one week, should I bother?

I was here for years before I went there. I have no intention of ever returning. There’s a more interesting version of anything that can be found in this gu elsewhere in town.

Is there a related blog post?

No way.


Gangnam-gu



What's the picture of?


The Gangnam skyline, as seen from Namsan.

Where is this gu?

Gangnam means “south of the river.” Gangnam-gu is on the south side of town, and a bit east. Out here, the generic term “Gangnam” can refer to the wider region including Songpa-gu and Seocho-gu. It can also refer to the entertainment district immediately surrounding Gangnam Station (though most of the better bars and clubs are actually in Seocho-gu).

What’s this gu best known for?

Style, according to Psy.  Money. Regarding specific areas, Gangnam-gu holds Apgujeong, Daechi-dong, Coex, Samseong-dong, Cheongdam-dong, and Garosu Street. All of these places are famous for being rich. Tehran Road is flanked by skyscrapers housing tech companies and financial firms. Apgujeong and Daechi are the very definition of nouveau riche. Gangnam in the broad sense was undeveloped farmland in 1970. Gangnam Station is the busiest subway station in Seoul, despite servicing only one line. Unlike most of Seoul (and most Korean cities,) Gangnam has wide straight streets in a grid pattern.

When did Jaehak first go there?


September 28, 2006. My very first night in Korea was in a shady hotel in an alley behind Gangnam Station. I have a long and complicated relationship with Gangnam.

How were epic walks involved?


Several epic walks have involved Gangnam. Most recently, I walked from Bundang (a suburb of Seoul) to Gangnam, a 13 mile trek.

If I were in Seoul for one week, should I bother?


If you want to see the Korean ideal of the future, this is the first place to look. In 2007, I avoided Gangnam, probably went twice all year. Now, it seems I end up there every other day. No trip to Seoul would be complete without spending at least an afternoon there.

Is there a related blog post?


Tons. The most famous one remains Indecision Clouds my Vision, though the original version is old as the hills.


Gangseo-gu



What's the picture of?

A large middle-of-nowhere field, kinda between the built-up area by Gimpo airport and the more “inner” portion of Gangseo.

Where is this gu?

If you’ve read about the last three gu I’ve covered, you can probably guess that Gangseo means “west of the river.” Gangseo is really more south of the river, as the Han River has a general horizontal orientation. It is, fittingly, the westernmost gu of Seoul.

What’s this gu best known for?


Gimpo Airport. Gimpo was the primary point of entry to Seoul and Korea until Incheon Airport opened in 2001. Now it’s a mostly domestic airport, and it kinda looks like how Chicago Midway looked in the 80s.

When did Jaehak first go there?

March 2007. No surprise, I went there to go to the airport to fly to Jeju Island. South Korea is small enough to make any other domestic flight ridiculous given high speed rail options.

How were epic walks involved?


Because Gangseo is so far from anywhere I’ve ever lived in Seoul, I didn’t walk there until this Gu Project had begun. I walked from Gimpo Airport to Mokdong, in neighboring Yangcheon-gu.

If I were in Seoul for one week, should I bother?
Only if you were flying to Jeju next.

Is there a related blog post?

I mentioned it here.



Geumcheon-gu



What's the picture of?

This is the only pic in the Gu Project that features someone I know, in this case my buddy Eric. This is a mall in Gasan Digital Complex. The streets of Geumcheon-gu were every bit as empty as this mall. This was at 7 p.m. or so on a Sunday. Eric and I legitimately thought that the North may have invaded.

Where is this gu?

Far on the Southwest side. This gu only has 3 subway stops.

What’s this gu best known for?


Presumably, the Gasan Digital Complex. Also, there’s a popular Youtube vid amongst expats called “Kicking it in Geumcheon,” though the song refers to a district in Paju city north of Seoul, not this gu.

When did Jaehak first go there?

A couple weeks ago, for the express purpose of this project.

How were epic walks involved?


I walked from Times Square Mall in Yeongduengpo-gu to Gasan Digital Complex.

If I were in Seoul for one week, should I bother?


Absolutely not. This may be the worst gu in town. It’s in a remote corner AND there’s nothing to do. We couldn’t even find a single place to get a beer other than 7-11, and it was too cold out to bother with that.

Is there a related blog post?

Come on.



Guro-gu




What's the picture of?


A neon sign on one of Guro’s busiest streets, which was a fairly desolate area filled with warehouses and condiment factories.

Where is this gu?

Southwest corner of Seoul
.
What’s this gu best known for?

Guro Station is where subway Line 1 splits into Incehon-bound trains and Cheonan-bound trains. Yep, a railroad intersection. Guro is the Barstow of Seoul. Guro also has a lot of abandoned factories, a nice-looking high-rise area right on the Yeongdeungpo border, and possibly the best Lotte Mart in Korea.

When did Jaehak first go there?


Likely in the summer of 2010.

How were epic walks involved?


I’ve had a couple walks through Guro, mostly originating at Eric’s place. My first experience in Guro was a walk to Yeouido.

If I were in Seoul for one week, should I bother?


That’s a negatory, good buddy. Southwest Seoul (Guro, Geumcheon, Gangseo) are pretty much the dullest parts of town.

Is there a related blog post?

I walked through Guro on my way to Incheon on the epic walk to end all epic walks. 

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