Chungmuro in downtown Seoul is to be turned into a theme street where tourists can immerse themselves in Korean pop culture. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has announced it will spend W21.4 billion (US$1=W1,097) on stars' name plates, hand prints, media artwork and collections as well as exhibition and experience spaces.
Its appearance will be modeled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or Star Street in Hong Kong.
The ministry wants to decorate the entire 800 m street as a shrine to the Korean Wave in hopes of restoring some of its old glamour to the former center of the Korean film industry. Some W5.1 billion will be earmarked for the construction next year, with the project scheduled for completion in 2014.
A ministry spokesman insisted the theme street "will be a space where state-of-the-art technology and culture meet to enable visitors to experience the Korean Wave in depth, not just a space to drop by to take a picture or buy a souvenir."
The ministry also has ambitions to transform the neighborhood into a publishing and culture complex in collaboration with the Jung District Office.
The Myungbo Art Hall will be converted into a "Korean Wave experience center" under an agreement with the owner of the building. The 2,000 sq. m theater will house a museum, bookstore, cafe, and other shops. The ministry is also looking at other venues including the Dongguk University media center and Freedom Center on Mt. Nam as another experience center. The Korea House in nearby Pil-dong will be developed into a venue to showcase Korean cuisine and traditional culture.
Chungmuro was in competition with COEX in Gangnam as the host of the project but won due to its proximity to other tourist attractions such as shopping mecca Myeong-dong, Mt. Nam and the Cheonggye Stream. "Chungmuro has the cultural assets of film and song, while Myeong-dong is the heart of shopping and design," an insider said. The district also has various cultural venues like the Namsangol Hanok Village and National Theater of Korea.