Seoul's Chinatown Bustles with Imported Cars

      March 06, 2018 13:03

      The Chinese enclave in Daerim-dong in Seoul is a somewhat seedy area, but locals are clearly not short of money and were upset when a recent film portrayed their area as a hangout for criminals.

      Expensive foreign cars throng the back alleys and streets around the market.

      The Korean-Chinese population has soared since the government began issuing F-4 visas to ethnic Koreans in 2012 that permit them to do business here for up to three years. This has led to a boom, especially among restaurants and wholesale and retail businesses.

      Soon Mercedes-Benz and BMW dealerships began opening here. One staffer with a foreign car dealership said, "We always have Chinese-speaking staff on standby."

      A welcoming sign in Chinese is placed at a car dealership in Daerim-dong, Seoul.

      "We've opened a dealership in the area to meet the demand of Chinese customers. Sales are in the upper middle range in Seoul," an executive of a foreign car brand said.

      The Chinese penchant for conspicuous displays of wealth has proved a bonanza for foreign carmakers.

      A 60-year-old waterworks technician surnamed Shin said, "Many people living in rental homes here are driving foreign cars, often bought with borrowed money." A Korean-Chinese trader there said, "Chinese people value cars above anything else."

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