Seoul and the Mal of Instant Architecture

    Daehangno is one of the places in Seoul that I have known the longest. I went there often in the 1980s and lived in nearby Hyehwa-dong from 1988 to 1989. In the 1990s and 2000s, I often met friends in Daehangno when I visited Korea from Japan. The pace of change in Seoul has always fascinated me, and I decided to write about the changes in Daehangno on a visit in 1995. I soon decided to add Sanggye-dong to the essay after visiting friends who had moved to “new cities” that were sprouting up around Seoul at the time. Since the late 2000s, other neighborhoods have attracted more attention, but I still visit to marvel at the changes while meeting old friends. 


    Most evenings, the posh cafés in places like Daehangno and Apgujeong-dong are full of young people talking and making phone calls to their friends from the table on fancy telephones. Outside, people crowd the streets lined with boutiques, video rental shops, 24-hour convenience stores, restaurants, and noraebang, or “song rooms,” where a group of friends can sing along to a music video. This is the world of electronic and visual stimulation, the world of the new, that young people on the move in Seoul soak up with a vengeance. To most people in Seoul, “new” represents change, and change is a good thing because it brings the hope of a better future. Economic growth and a desire for success spawn new trends that change the cityscape overnight. Vast apartment complexes“new cities”grow in the rice fields on the edges of town, and the sound of construction fills the streets of most neighborhoods. This is a city where, to invoke the title of Marshall Berman’s seminal work on modernism, All That Is Solid Melts into Air.

    “Postmodern” multi-purpose commercial building in Daehangno

    People in Seoul are used to the fast pace of change and tend to take it for granted, but for former residents of Seoul who, like me, visit Korea on and off, the pace of change is stunning. My old neighborhood of Yaksu-dong to the east of Mt. Namsan is a case in point. From 1983-84, I lived with a Korean family in a house near the busy street of Dasanno that links Dongdaemun with Hannam-dong and Itaewon. On a recent visit to Yaksu-dong, I could hardly recognize my old neighborhood. The house where I lived still stands, but many of the surrounding lots are full of multi-family dwellings of three to five stories. My bus stop is now dug up for construction of a station on subway Line 6. Near the bus stop, the 1960s-style coffee shop, or dabang, is now an auto repair shop. The old gray building across the street with the big pool room on the second floor has been replaced by an attractive brick building with a Ministop 24-hour convenience store on the first floor and offices on the other floors. Further down Dasanno, the Yaksu intersection has changed dramatically: construction on the Yaksu subway station on Line 3 has long finished; the Geumho Tunnel now goes through the mountains to Gangnam on the other side of the Han River; and the old low-income houses near the top of the mountain have been cleared to make way for middle-class apartment complexes. The contours of the mountains and layout of the streets are the same as in 1983, but the buildings and the people that live and work in them have turned Yaksu-dong into a strange, though not unpleasant, place. In a few years, Yaksu-dong will change again as Line 6 opens and the apartments are completed. 

    Writers on architecture often equate it with language and insist that architecture speaks to us in various ways. Indeed, one of the leading theorists on postmodern architecture, Charles Jencks, used the word “language” in the title of his The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, his first major work on the subject. As a form of communication, architecture speaks many languages and viewers and users create an understanding with a building from what they see and what they bring to the experience. Here, the Korean word mal is perhaps a better word than “language” to describe the communicative relationship between a building and its viewers and users. Mal means all of the following things: language, a language, speech, a word, a conversation, a remark, a complaint, a rumor, a controversy, a story, a message, and the meaning of something.  The mal of architecture thus refers to the entire range of communicative interactions that viewers and users of a building experience. It is also provides insight into the iconography of power in a particular society at a particular time because, of all forms of cultural production, architecture has the closest relationship to political, social, and economic structures.1 In this essay, I will examine the mal of contemporary architecture in Seoul in an attempt to find out what it is saying about Korean society and popular culture in the mid-1990s.     

    Change in contemporary Seoul happens bottom up rather than top down. Although the national government actively promotes many major projects, such as the subway and the new cities, most changes are the result of private initiative that comes from the rapid growth in the Korean economy since the mid-1960s, which  has created an urban middle-class society with a steadily rising standard of living. Although this growth has favored certain groups in Korean society over others, the overall standard of living has risen dramatically in the last thirty years. Ever-rising standards of living and expectations of future prosperity have created a type of architecture that I would like to call “Instant Architecture” because it lives off and responds to change quickly. Instant Architecture is not another “postmodern” style of architectural design that plays with pop elements like the architecture that Robert Venturi worshipped in his Learning from Las Vegas. Rather, I see it is an architectural-economican “archinomic”system that supports the creation, the evolution, and the eventual destruction of buildings. At the point of creation, the architectural style and materials used are limited by economics of profit and scale that bring about a great deal of reduplication of design and materials. Once created, the building prospers until it falls out of fashion at which point it is appropriated for another use; the building may be appropriated for several other uses over a period of years. Eventually, however, the building will face destruction or total renovation as prevailing trends and the price of land make the building unprofitable economically in its present form. Thus, an Instant-Architecture building has the following life-cycle: birth through reduplication, youthful glory days, a period of middle age appropriations, and death through destruction or total renovation. New buildings that better fit the social and economic needs of Korean society then replace the old. This explanation accounts for why the old building in Yaksu-dong with the pool room on the second floor has give way to a 24-hour Ministop with offices above.

    Instant architecture is not unique to Seoul. Other Asian cities, such as Hong Kong and Bangkok all follow the general logic of Instant Architecture, but at various stages of development and depending on local conditions and traditions. All these cities thrive on commerce and lack the heavy hand of central planning that forces urban activity into well-defined zones. Rapid economic growth in Hong Kong and Bangkok has created a situation similar to Seoul in which economically-driven change forces old buildings and styles to give way to new ones at a stunning pace. The rapid pace of change, the lack of “city planning,” and a dense population force a variety of urban functions to co-exist in many neighborhoods of the city. Throughout Asia, however, the confusion of this urban jumble follows its own interior logic that gives order to the seeming chaos.2  Though Instant Architecture in Seoul and other Asian cities brings continuous upheaval to all areas of the city, it does so in a way that leaves a new but chaotic order in its place.   


    Economically-driven change in Seoul is a recent phenomenon.3  From its foundation as the capital of the Joseon Dynasty in 1394 until the mid-nineteenth century, Seoul remained inside the wall that enclosed what is now the downtown area. During the Joseon period, the population fluctuated from 100,000 in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to 40,000 after the Japanese invasions of 1592-98 and back to 200,000 in 1876, when the Ganghwa Treaty forced Korea to open its doors to the major imperialist powers. Although the steady rise in population in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries coincided with the rise of a nascent market economy in Korea,4 the increase was gradual, and official policy discouraged growth beyond the city walls.  For 500 years, political and military events, not economics, caused change and upheaval in Seoul.

    With the forced opening of Korea in 1876, Seoul entered a period of rapid change as foreign legations opened and foreign missionaries came to Korea. Although the population and physical size of Seoul changed only gradually during this period, Western-style buildings and infrastructure altered the look and feel of selected sections of the city. The Gabo Reforms of 1894 saw the administrative reorganization of the city that sanctioned the growth of the city to spread beyond the walls. Rail transportation contributed to growth beyond the walls. A train connecting Mapo, then a village on the Han River, with the treaty port of Incheon was completed in 1888 and the first street cars between Dongdaemun and Seodaemun and between Jongno and Namdaemun were opened in 1899 and 1901, respectively. After their takeover of Korea in 1910, the Japanese subjected the people of Seoul to harsh rule and turned Seoul into a colonial capital that linked the new colony with the metropole through the construction of large edifices of state control and transportation networks.

    Seoul entered a period of dramatic changethe beginnings of economically-driven changein the 1930s as increased industrialization and Japanese military activities in Manchuria and later China brought large numbers of workers from the countryside and many administrators and soldiers from Japan. Public and commercial building increased rapidly, creating a large central core for the growing city. Jongno became the center of Korean commercial activity, and Chungmuro the center of Japanese commercial activity. The city moved south of the river for the first time in 1936 by incorporating the industrial area of Yeongdeungpo.  The population, which included a large number of Japanese, rose rapidly from 600,000 in 1936 to over a 1,000,000 in 1942.

    After the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, Seoul was beset by chaos that did not end until after the Korean War. Large numbers of refugees from Japan and North Korea swelled the population as the loss of war industries and trade with Japan weakened the city’s economic base. U.N. and North Korean armies fought over Seoul twice during the Korean War, causing massive death and destruction. Recovery from the Korean war was slow until the early 1960s when Park Chung-hee launched his plan to industrialize the nation. The population began to rise rapidly from the mid-1960s as large numbers of people left the countryside in search of a better life in the city. 

    In response to the rapidly increasing population and economic growth of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the government drew up plans to develop the Gangnam area of the city and the island of Yeouido, both on the south side of the Han River. These plans resulted in the construction of large apartment complexes along wide streets laid out on a grid pattern. The movement of many elite high schools to this area attracted an increasing number of well-to-do residents to the sprawling new complexes. From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, the Gangnam area boomed and spread to the far southern boundaries of the city. Rapid economic growth in the 1980s brought increased prosperity to a growing middle class, which stimulated the growth of giant shopping centers such as Lotte World, and smaller places of entertainment, such as noraebang (“song rooms”), hofs (beer halls), and elegant cafés and restaurants.

    The pattern of development changed in the 1990s as population growth slowed and began to move beyond the city limits. A series of “new cities” with subway links to the center of the city sprouted in nearby areas in Gyeonggi Province. Inside the city, smaller scale construction and redevelopment projects continued the rapid pace of change. Many older neighborhoods on the north side of the Han River witnessed a wave of construction as new multi-family units took the place of traditional Korean houses.  The legalization of private tutoring brought staggering change to neighborhoods near universities as students looked for ways to spend their new-found pocket money. Perhaps nothing symbolizes the changes in the 1990s better than the 24-hour convenience store and the self-service café, which are now found in almost every neighborhood in Seoul. 

    Except for royal tutelage at its founding, Seoul has not gone through a period of state-sponsored remodeling and renovation, as did Paris, Vienna, and Tokyo in the nineteenth century, that aimed to create a new urban iconography of power. Rather, state-sponsored building in Seoul since the opening of Korea in 1876 has focused almost exclusively on building the infrastructure for new construction, which is more akin to the large building projects, such as the subway, that helped New York spread beyond Manhattan and Brooklyn in the early years of the twentieth century. Since the mid-1960s, the growing economy that moved Korea from abject poverty to the brink of First World status in thirty years has forced change in Seoul. Instant Architecture, then, is the architectural and spatial manifestation of the last thirty years of economic growth and social transformation.


    Our search for Instant Architecture begins in Daehangno, the wide street in the northeast section of downtown Seoul, and ends in Sanggye-dong, a vast complex of new apartments in the far northeastern section of the city about twenty minute by subway from the Daehangno. As one of the major entertainment and cultural centers in Seoul, Daehangno is particularly noted for its small theaters, art galleries, and elaborate cafés and restaurants. Until the late 1980s, the area behind Daehangno was residential, but the booming entertainment industry has since pushed many residents out of the neighborhood. Architecturally, Daehangno is a trend setter with new and remodeled buildings appearing almost every day. We begin our investigation of Instant Architecture on a small scale by looking at one important type of commercial establishment in Daehangno: the full-service café. Next we will look at the multi-purpose commercial buildingsthe most common genre of architecture in Seoulin Daehangno and Sanggye-dong. Finally, we will conclude our tour by looking at layout and design of new-city apartment complexes in Sanggye-dong.

    Of all the shops in Daehangno, the café is perhaps the most conspicuous and most subject to the judgment of an impatient taste culture. Cafés in Daehangno follow the typical life-cycle of Instant Architecturereduplication, appropriation, and death. Cafés in Daehangno come in two types: the self-service café and the more expensive full-service café. The self-service café spread rapidly in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but growth has slowed in the mid-1990s as the full-service café has gained popularity.  In the life-cycle of Instant Architecture, self-service cafés are moving rapidly into middle age with appropriation nearing. Full-service cafés, on the other hand, are being born through reduplication and are entering their glory days as “the place to be” for stylish Seoulites on the move.   

    From the outside, a typical full-service café in Daehangno has large windows below a brightly lit sign in Korea and English. Almost all cafés occupy a floor or part of a floor in a multi-purpose commercial building. Many cafés on the first floor are set back from the street and have small parking lots in front. Moving inside, the interior is bright and large stuffed couches and chairs are clustered around each table. Most have a telephone on each table so that customers can make intra-city calls. This is particularly helpful to customers with beepers because it allows them to respond as quickly and conveniently as possible. Large plants divide tables from one another, creating a feeling of privacy, but the overall space is open and bright. Music adds to the atmosphere and changes with the clientele and time of day. The atmosphere of the full-service café is one of trendy elegance that is designed to create a strong visual impact on customers.

    Spacious seating and a telephone on the table in a full-service café in Daehangno

    Reduplication occurs in the full-service café on two levels: the overall arrangement of the elements of the interior is repeated with slight variations for color and style, and most of the elements that make up the interior are the same because the economics of scale makes custom made interiors prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, with trends changing so quickly, the smart café owner knows that what is in this year could very well be out next year; an expensive interior does not yield enough return on investment. This does not mean that all full-service cafés blindly copy each other; they try to create individuality through using an interesting name or offering a special service. Once set up, the full-service coffee shop enters a period of youthful glory days in which it is popular and makes a healthy profit for the owner; the interior looks clean and new and continues to attract customers. Many self-service cafés, on the other hand, are beginning to look frayed and are forced to either lower prices to compete, turn themselves into full-service cafés, or go out of business; the last two steps mark the beginning of appropriation.

    Utilitarian interior of a self-service café near Daehangno
    Night view of a typical self-service café in Daehangno

    Appropriation and building death are particularly easy to see in Daehangno as the commercial strip has eaten away at the residential neighborhood on both sides of the street. In the late 1980s, many houses were converted into large-scale restaurants that doubled as coffee houses. As the overall economy and the popularity of Daehangno grew, the rising price of land forced owners of these houses to tear them down and to replace them with multi-purpose commercial buildings. Similar economic forces have forced businesses in those remaining houses to undergo numerous appropriations. After changing its self into a restaurantusually a Western-style onethe house goes through several appropriations before being destroyed or converted into an even more upscale restaurant or drinking place. Commercial buildings follow a similar life-cycle. A one- or two-story building with a restaurant or shop has by now been appropriated for various uses. Like the house, however, the building is either too old or too small to keep up with changing trends, making it unprofitable, and faces eventual death so that a taller and more efficient multi-purpose commercial building can take its place. The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth is completed new full-service cafés, 24-hour convenience stores, bars, and offices move into the new building.   

    Another “postmodern” multi-purpose commercial building in Daehangno
    Signage on the above building at night

    Every street and neighborhood in Seoul has at least several multi-purpose commercial buildings. Most of these buildings are between three and five stories tall, but many of those in the new cities are taller. Multi-purpose commercial buildings are united by the need to produce a profit for their owner, but extremely diverse in style and design; they range from cheap white-tile to experimental “postmodern” structures that play with materials and design. Daehangno has more experimental multi-purpose commercial buildings than other areas of Seoul because the competition of the consumer’s visual attention is greater in Daehangno. In residential areas such as Sanggye-dong, multi-purpose commercial building give up architectural distinctiveness to reduce construction costs and construction related complications. Builders follow popular and simple designs and use easy-to-obtain materials, such as reinforced poured concrete, which accentuate the reduplicativity in construction of these buildings. This allows the buildings to be built quickly and allows the owner to make a healthy profit on the initial investment; the building itself does little to draw potential customers to it.  Businesses in multi-purpose commercial buildings thus end up competing for the consumer’s visual attention through large colorful signs, many of them neon, on the exterior and by creating a pleasant atmosphere on the interior, or by offering special services. The simple design and use of readily-available materials in places like Sanggye-dong creates a dull, but functional architecture that meets the economic needs of all, while remaining open to the inevitability of appropriation and building death.   


    As subway Line 4 rises above ground in northeast Seoul, we begin to see large apartment complexes on both sides of the train. The area around Changdong Station, where Line 4 intersects with Line 1, marks the entrance to the vast area of apartments commonly referred to as Sanggye-dong.  With construction in Sanggye-dong beginning in the mid-1980s, it stands between the Gangnam and the new cities of Bundang and Ilsan outside the city limits. Building in Gangnam was gradual and followed a more sporadic pattern of development in which commercial buildings, apartment complexes, and single family houses went up side by side each other. Recent development in Bundang and Ilsan, on the other hand, occurred in less than five years and followed a tightly organized plan that received support from the highest levels of government. Unlike Gangnam and the new cites, Sanggye-dong replaced low-income housing and factories that were cleared for redevelopment in the early 1980s. By replacing older structures, Sanggye-dong follows the same pattern of rebirth through reduplication as the glitzy full-service café or the sleek multi-purpose commercial building in Daehangno. Emerging from the 1980s as one of the most successful large-scale developments, Sanggye-dong is now in its youthful glory days. Middle age is nearing, however, as it faces increased competition from the new cities and redeveloped areas inside the city of Seoul. The area around Changdong Station represents the typical layout and design of large-scale apartment complexes in Seoul and its suburbs. 

    Our tour of Sanggye-dong begins as we leave Changdong Station down stairs that spill out into a dark area below the tracks. On the north side of the station, we see an older neighborhood dominated by small multi-purpose commercial buildings and multi-family housing units. Leaving the station to the northeast, we see a large area under development with new apartments nearing completion in the distance. Reversing course and moving under the tracks to the south, we find ourselves in a commercial area of monotonous and close-together multi-purpose commercial buildings plastered with gaudy signs on each floor. The roads in this commercial district are organized on a grid pattern, but have narrow sidewalks and limited space for on-the-street parking. The apartments that the commercial area feeds off of sit on the other side of a busy street that parallels the subway line, which sandwiches the commercial district between it and the subway line to the north.

    Rows of multi-purpose commercial buildings in front of Changdong Station in Sanggye-dong

    A closer look at the multi-purpose commercial buildings reveals their diverse functions. A typical building will house a full-service café, a pharmacy, a restaurant, a church, a noraebang, a bank, a shop, a doctor’s office, and an institute for entrance exam preparation. Banks and shops are usually on the first floor; restaurants and cafés on the second floor or in the basement; and offices and churches on the upper floors. These businesses have little to do with each other, but they all meet the needs of the varying needs of the nearby residents. Smaller multi-purpose commercial buildings are mixed in among the apartment complexes. These are usually two or three stories tall and have shops that sell daily necessities. Many have a church or a nursery school on the upper floors.  

    Side street lined with multi-purpose commercial buildings in front of Changdong Station in Sanggye-dong
    Small multi-purpose commercial building between apartment complexes in Sanggye-dong

    Crossing the busy street into the area of apartments, we see complexes of ten- to fifteen-story apartment buildings of a similar size and shape clustered together. Large construction companies build apartment complexes in Korea, which accounts for why buildings in one complex look the same. They build the buildings to conform to a master plan that emphasizes the unity of the buildings and the layout of the complex because this allows the builders to maximize their profits from the site through efficient use of an easily-and-quick design and readily-available building materials. Customers are attracted to utility as well because they equate it with comfort and convenience. Approaching a typical apartment complex from the street, we see a wall around it and a guarded entrance to the parking lot. The sidewalk on the outside of the wall and the pathways inside the complex have few pedestrians, which contrasts sharply with the crowded sidewalks and back alleys of Daehangno. Older apartment complexes have far too few parking spaces to accommodate the number of cars that residents now have, but newer complexes have more parking facilities. Areas of trees and grass cover the perimeter of the building, and a playground for children is in a central area in the complex. Individual buildings in older apartment complexes are four to five stories tall and located close to each other, causing noise to reverberate in the narrow space between the buildings. Buildings in newer complexes are taller and placed farther apart and in more varied clusters. Along with reducing noise pollution, this creates a feeling of openness in a high-density housing complex. 

    Busy street that divides the commercial district in front of Ch’angdong Station from the apartment complexes in Sanggye-dong

    Most apartment complexes in Sanggye-dong reflect the “middle period” of Korean apartment architecture that lies between the elevatorless five-story buildings crowded together and the slim twenty-five story towers in the new cities of Bundang and Ilsan. Apartments too are born through reduplication and follow the same Instant-Architecture life-cycle as the café or the multi-purpose commercial building. Except for a few luxurious “villas,” income levels, government restrictions, and economics of scale, and the size of the building site force builders to build most apartments within a relatively narrow range of sizes, designs, and building materials. These factors create a reduplication in apartment architecture that is stronger than in the multi-purpose commercial building. Once completed, an apartment complex enters its youthful glory days when an individual apartment commands a high price and is considered a prestige place to live. The length of this youthful period varies according to the location and popular trends, but change will eventually force the apartment complex into a brief middle age, followed by slow, grinding decline. Since their emergence in the 1970s apartments have improved greatly in design and construction as the economy has grown.  Each successive wave of improvements lowered the attractiveness of older apartments, reducing comparative market value or forcing the owners to band together to make capital improvements. Although some apartments built in the 1970s have faced building death and have been replaced by newer apartments or commercial buildings, most older apartments remain intact and have been remodeled as down-market housing. The rate of building death in apartments is lower than that of multi-purpose commercial buildings because they are larger and needed a much higher initial capital investment.  This situation may change in the near future as the first wave of apartments age and lose their economic vitality amid continuous infrastructural improvements and rising land prices.

    Looking back in the direction of Changdong Station, we see apartments on both sides and the commercial district of multi-purpose buildings in the distance. Nothing is more than twenty years: the buildings, the roads, the elevated tracks of subway line number four. This new town is an instant town made up of instant buildings that fit no particular category of architectural style. In Instant Architecture, style is largely an afterthought because the dynamics of economic change emphasize the importance of making money now to prepare for the next wave of change rather than creating a building that attempts to transcend time and space through “timeless good design.” Few buildings in Seoul are designed by celebrity architects who assert their artistic autonomy. Rather, design is a group project that involves a team of architects and engineers who work for an architectural firm. As we walk back to the subway we notice that the same “instantness” makes style equally irrelevant in the multi-purpose commercial building. Making a good return on the initial investment in a competitive market is the bottom line for the owner of a multi-purpose commercial building; style comes into play only as it adds to the economic potential of the building. Getting out of the subway at Hyehwa Station in Daehangno, we see that, although the full-service café has to be trendy to survive, economics imposes restrictions on the range of stylistic possibilities available to the owner. The owner must choose from what is trendy and economical in creating an interior that appeals to potential customers. In describing style in Instant Architecture in Seoul, we see that the modernism of rows of reinforced-poured-concrete apartments, the postmodernism of quirky multipurpose buildings in Daehangno, and all the other “isms” are all fighting for survival amid relentless economic change. Thus, by forcing style and the autonomy of the architect to the sidelines, Instant Architecture is open to whatever is stylistically expedient in the archinomic system. This gives it a spontaneity that is chaotic, but fun.


    Going up Taehangno to the north takes me to another old neighborhood of mine, Hyehwa-dong, where I lived from the fall of 1988 to the spring of 1989. I lived in a traditional Korean style house that was built in the early years of the twentieth century.  The Hyehwa Roundabout has all the businesses typical of the 1990s: a 24-hour convenience store, a noraebang, a gas station, a self-service café. These are intermingled with the businesses that I remember passing on my way to the bus stop: a Chinese restaurant, a bookstore, a pool hall, a bakery. The street leading from the Hyehwa Roundabout to my old house has changed dramatically since 1988. Almost all the businesses are new and many single-family houses have been replaced by multi-purpose commercial buildings or multi-family housing units, giving what was a residential street a commercial character. Many of the older multipurpose-commercial buildings have been spruced up. My old house at the end of a small alley and nearly all the other traditional Korean houses along the alley have been replaced by four and five story multi-family housing units. As I leave the alley and go up the hill to get a view of the neighborhood and Daehangno beyond, I see an instant noodle vending machine in front of a small food shop, and am reminded that as hot water brings instant noodles to life, a hot economy brings Instant Architecture to life. If Instant Architecture speaks a mal, then, to update the spirit of Ezra Pound’s Make it New,5 it must be saying, “Make it now!”


    1. See Stephen Connor, Postmodern Culture, pp. 67-80.
    2. See essays in Kunihiro Narumi and Shinya Hashizume, eds., Shoto no kosumorojii: Osaka no kukan bunka [The cosmology of a commercial city: Space in Osaka].
    3. For an overview of the history of Seoul, see Im Deok-sun, 600 nyon sudo soul [The 600-year-old capital city of Seoul]; See also Kang Jae-eun, Souru [Seoul]. Sekai no toshi no monogatari, no 7.
    4. For a discussion on the controversy of dating the origins of Korean capitalism, see Carter Eckert, Offsprings of Empire, pp. 1-6.
    5. Title of Ezra Pound’s most noted anthology of literary criticism (London: Faber and Faber, 1934).


    Berman, Marshall. All That Is Solid Melts into Air. New York: Penguin Books, [1982] 1988.

    Connor, Stephen. Postmodern Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1989.

    Eckert, Carter. Offsprings of Empire: The Koch’ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism, 1876-1945. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991.

    Haggard, Stephen and Cung-in Moon. “The State, Politics, and Economic Development in Postwar South Korea.” In Hagen Koo, ed., State and Society in Contemporary Korea, pp. 51-93. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.

    Hanguk geonchukga hyeophoe. Seoul ui geonchuk (Architectural guide to Seoul). Seoul: Doseochulpan Baleon, 1995.

    Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989.

    Im Deok-sun. 600 nyeon sudo Seoul [The 600-year-old capital city of Seoul]. Seoul: Jisiksaneopsa, 1994.

    Jencks, Charles. The Language of Post-Modern Architecture. 4th ed. London: Academy Editions, 1984.

    Kang Jae-eun. Souru [Seoul]. Sekai no toshi no monogatari, no 7. Tokyo: Bungeishunshu, 1992.

    Kunstler, James H. The Geography of Nowhere. New York: Touchstone, 1993.

    Narumi, Kunihiro and Shinya Hashizume, eds. Shoto no kosumorojii: Osaka no kukan bunka [The cosmology of a commercial city: Space in Osaka]. Tokyo: Tibiiesu Buritanika, 1990.

    Yi Mun-jae. “‘Ingan ui jip’ inga suyongso inga? [‘Houses for people’ or detention centers?].” Sisa jeoneol (December 15, 1994), pp. 38-43.

    Original Article: Fouser, Robert J. “Seoul and the Mal of Instant Architecture,” Korean Culture, Vol. 17, No. 2, Summer 1996.

    © 2018 Robert J. Fouser


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