Seongsu, the trendsetting district in Seoul

February 8, 2022 / By  

Originally designated as a semi-industrial zone, Seongsu was packed with factories and shoemakers until the 2000s. However, recently, factories have been converted into fascinating restaurants and cafés, attracting consumer footfall and companies. Seongsu-dong has become an emerging district in retail and office markets, driven by younger generations.

Seongsu Office Market

Seongsu has gained popularity as an emerging business district recently. Start-up companies were initially concentrated in Gangnam due to various support centres and co-working offices. Lately, a lot of start-ups and co-working offices have been gathering in Seongsu, which has benefited from its geographical advantage and comparably reasonable rents. As Gangnam rents are growing rapidly, driven by the scarcity of stock, Seongsu is becoming a desirable alternative. Abandoned factories are starting to be remodelled into cafés and restaurants. Seongsu is adjacent to subway Line 2, directly connected to Gangnam and Euljiro Stations. Additionally, Seongsu has unique cultural elements which inspire younger entrepreneurs. For instance, Musinsa – a fashion Unicorn − a term used to describe a privately held start-up company with a value exceeding $1 billion − moved its headquarters from Gangnam to Seongsu.

Figure 1: Examples of start-ups relocating from Gangnam to Seongsu

Source: JLL

Seongsu Retail Market

Figure 2: Average retail rents in Seongsu (KRW per pyeong, 1st Floor)

Source: Seoul City, Commercial District Analyses Service,
average rents for the first floor, per month, per pyeong

While offline retail is grappling with challenges from COVID-19, Seongsu still demonstrated positive rent growth. The key is the rebirth of space, such as Daelim Changgo, a warehouse-type gallery/café refurbished from an old factory. Seongsu Café Street entices younger generations that love “Newtro” culture –the coexistence of the past and present. Seongsu Yeonbang, the cultural space, and Café Onion refurbished the chemical and metal-product factory. Graffiti is painted all over the factory walls, adding unique elements to Seongsu. The bricks and factories have turned into the identity of Seongsu-dong, offering a unique experience that young consumers love.

Furthermore, Seongsu has several F&B tenants that draw strong interest from Generation MZ. There are a lot of popular restaurants and cafés, such as Café Knotted, a famous doughnut franchise, Bakery MealDo and Hoegi Burger. The Generation MZ frequently visits Seongsu to enjoy trendy food in antique-style buildings that offer a unique experience.

Figure 3: Location of Seongsu Café Street

Source: JLL

On the back of rising footfall, companies are keen to open pop-up stores in Seongsu to receive quick feedback for their new products and raise brand awareness. For example, LG Electronics prepared a small garden in Platz Seoul, a cultural space in Seongsu, to promote its new plant appliance, “LG Tiiun”, and opened Guemseong Oraksil, combining an old arcade with the latest OLED TV. Additionally, Amorepacific launched Amore Seongsu and decorated it as a beauty lounge, using the old repair shop as it was. The companies aim to stay closely connected with younger customers, sensitive to the trend, by opening pop-up stores in Seongsu to launch customised marketing strategies.

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