The Yongsan Electronics Shopping Center first opened its doors in 1987 as the largest retail complex selling electronic products in South Korea (2 million ㎡). While the complex was a prime shopping location in the 1990s when computers and video games became popular, the 2000s have been another story after the Asian financial crisis struck and the world entered the internet era. The complex is now in decay, resembling much of a warehouse as visitors make themselves rare and with a 22.7% vacancy rate.
Seoul City is taking advantage of the center’s potential to attract industries such as 5G, drone and VR, in an effort to breathe life back into the old Yongsan Electronics Shopping Center as a global “Digital Maker City” and a “Youth Start-up Platform” for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – the Y-Valley.
The city’s rebranding vision “Y-Valley” represents the idea that “▲Yes, all ideas are tested and realized at the ▲Yongsan Electronics Shopping Center, a hub for ▲Young people’s jobs that ▲You and I will create together.”
The project is mainly concentrated on the four remaining shopping malls (currently 4,000 stores in operation), aiming at expanding the infrastructure into a place that can accommodate both young people’s working space and a residential area with business and education facilities and programs, while strengthening the connectivity of this space with its surroundings.
Public-Private partnership is particularly important to the construction of Y-Valley being its sustainable power. As sixteen strategic institutions come together, such as the Seoul Government and merchants, government and private companies, universities and public institutions, the public and private sector are mobilizing their capacities to bring innovative growth.
The cooperative universities are creating on-site campuses in the Yongsan Electronics Shopping Center with education and entrepreneurship programs for their students. Meanwhile, in an effort to nurture future talent for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, LG U+ is using the space as a 5G technology testbed while CJ corporation is providing creative coding education for elementary and middle school students in the area. Additionally, Woori Bank is planning to develop low-interest loans to help and support local merchants.
“Yongsan Electronics’ Thinkers Alley” opened its doors on April 3rd on Wonhyo Mall’s 2nd and 3rd floor (6,000 ㎡). This is a Maker Space in which anyone can create design prototypes of their ideas and receive entrepreneurial education and support.
The official website for Yongsan Electronics Shopping Center’s urban restoration (http://y-valley.org). opened on April 3rd. You can apply for the Yongsan Electronics’ Thinkers Alley program through the website, and also follow the progress of the restoration in real time and suggest your ideas.