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The Cultural Heritage of SEOUL(TBS)

  • The last remaining “Citizens’ apartment building”: Hoehyeon Apartments

  • The Cultural Heritage of SEOUL(TBS) SMG 3708

    Hoehyeon Apartments is located at the foot of Namsan Mountain with a wide view of downtown Seoul.
    In the late 1960s, construction was completed on Hoehyeon Apartments (the second in a series of “citizen’s apartment buildings”), which was built in a horseshoe shape, which is rare for a citizen’s apartment complex, after having torn down the nearby shantytowns on the hilly areas. Although each building consisted of ten floors, which was quite high at the time, the budget did not allow for the installation of an elevator. Instead, bridges were built to allow easy access to the sixth and seventh floors. In one horseshoe-shaped building, there were 340 households of 11 pyeong each. It was the first apartment building in Korea to be equipped with central heating and individual flush-toilet bathrooms. Owing to its modern facilities, the apartment building was soon home to celebrities and employees of the KCIA and various broadcasting companies. The structure of the apartment building, which did not provide much living space, was soon subject to a diverse range of modifications. However, due to an apartment building collapse that occurred just before Hoehyeon Apartments was completed, the ambitious “citizen’s apartment” construction project that had thus far progressed at a breakneck pace was stopped after only three years. In 1997, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced a plan for a complete reorganization of the city’s aging citizen’s apartments. Today, Hoehyeon Apartments is the last remaining structure of its kind. As a symbol of modernization in Korea that must be preserved as well as a potential subject for demolition for safety purposes, 45 years later, Hoehyeon Apartment presents a problem that still remains to be solved.