Soyeon Kim- Gangnam Style

What is Gangnam style?

Where is Gangnam?

 Gangnam district is known as “South Korea’s Beverly Hills” for its exorbitant real-estate prices and wealthy residents 

 Ever since PSY’s international mega-hit “Gangnam Style” in 2012, people all over the world have heard the name of Seoul’s most affluent district.

But few know what the area called “the Beverly Hills of South Korea” is actually like. 

 While the district is an economic hub for some of the most powerful companies globally, including Google, IBM, and Toyota, its real heart is its residential areas, where the deposit to rent a home costs 10 years of salary for the average Korean.

 Living in Gangnam — and more specifically living in the Gangnam neighborhoods of Cheongdam-dong and Apgujeong-dong — is a status symbol that many Koreans aspire to. Cheongdam-dong and Apgujeong-dong are home to many Korean actors, actresses, and idols, miles of luxury retail, a wild nightlife, and Korea’s biggest entertainment companies.

Also, Gangnam is famous for good high schools which are helpful for getting into good universities. That is why many parents want to raise their children in Gangnam despite it is a spendy area to live

How Gangnam became rich district?

 Seoul’s population has grown at a phenomenal rate. It was a million in 1953, and skyrocketed to 2.45 million by 1960, up 1.5 million in less than a decade. There was no planning for such explosive growth, and urbanization quickly deteriorated quality of life and generated slum areas across the city. Disorganized urban sprawl characterized the city as it encroached on the mountains, rivers, green belts, national land, and even roads.

 To accommodate the growing population, the city government planned to increase the density of the existing built-up areas (e.g., Seun Arcade) and systematically develop the adjacent areas (e.g., land readjustment programs in Seogyo, Dongdaemun, Myeonmok, Suyu, etc.). However, this was not sufficient to handle the dramatic population growth. For instance, population grew by 298,780 on average in 1960; this meant that the city needed at least 50,000 housing units (assuming 6 people in each household) and other infrastructure, which at the time could only service a few thousand. Seoul was in need of new, large built-up areas to resolve the snowballing urban issues.

“Gangbuk could no longer handle it. The population kept growing. The development of Gangnam first began in earnest in the 1970s, and the population was about 6 million at the time. Gangbuk couldn’t handle it. That’s how the development of Gangnam began.” (Son Jeong-mok, Former Director, Urban Planning Bureau, Seoul Metropolitan Government)

 In the early stage of the plan, Gangnam was to be one of many sub-centers. At the time, these sub-centers were supposed to be the hinterland and residential areas structurally and were thus located at the center of transportation hubs to enable easy access from the center of Seoul or other cities. On the contrary, Gangnam did not have any residential districts or built-up areas. Its planned density was not as high as we see today.

 So Government started few policies to develope the City

Here are the policies 


 1.The third Hangang Bridge (today’s Hannam Bridge; begun January 1966 and completed December 1969) heralded the start of the era of Gangnam. When the Gyeongbu Expressway (begun in 1967) opened in July 1970, connecting the old city center to Gangnam, the development of Gangnam progressed even faster.

 2.To promote the development of Gangnam, the government introduced the Act on Temporary Measures for Development Promotion in Specific Areas in 1972, easing the tax regulations that had been put in place to prevent real estate speculation and removing almost all taxes on land transactions and use. The real estate speculation tax, business tax, registration tax, acquisition tax, property tax, urban planning tax, and licensing tax were removed until the Act was abolished in 1978. This temporary measure proved effective: land transactions became more active, and prices rose again

 3.In 1975, Seoul announced its plans to build the social infrastructure to develop urban functions in Gangnam. It’s first targets were secondary government offices, such as the City Hall, court, Public Prosecutor’s Office, Korea Forest Service, and Public Procurement Service, as well as headquarters of 8 financial institutions, including the Bank of Korea, Korea Development Bank, and Korea Exchange Bank. However, this resulted in fierce opposition as the city did not hold sufficient discussions with the relevant departments, and the institutions were not moved to Gangnam. The only public offices that moved to Gangnam were the Supreme Court and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, but only after a decade

 4.In 1976, the next targets were the prestigious high schools in the old city center. Starting with Gyeonggi High School, 8 high schools, including Hwimun High School and Sukmyung Girls’ High School, were moved to today’s Gangnam-gu. In 1980, Seoul High School moved to Seocho-gu, and Baeje High to Gangdong-gu. A total of 15 high schools were moved, creating the famous 8 school districts, and South Korea’s vehement pursuit of good education has fueled the continued migration to Gangnam ever since.

 5.The construction of bridges and the express bus terminal moving to Gangnam significantly vitalized the area. Besides the third Hangang Bridge (completed in 1969, today’s Hannam Bridge), Seoul built Jamsil Bridge, Yeongdong Bridge, Jamsu Bridge, Jamsil Rail Bridge, Seongsu Bridge, Banpo Bridge, and Dongho Bridge in 1972. While these structures enhanced the connection to and from Gangnam and the city center, they were more than just bridges; they also provided a link between the city center and satellite cities, expanding the extent of the city. Built in 1976, Gangnam Express Bus Terminal was completed alongside Jamsu Bridge, further promoting the development of Yeongdong District 1 and the move of urban functions to Gangnam.


 But Gangnam is not only famous for prestigious schools, and companies.

It is also famous for adult entertainment establishment. Area near by Gangnam station is where the lights never go out. A lot of pubs and clubs form a line near by Gangnam station.

Then What is the Gangnam style?

 Expensive cars, houses, landscrapers and schools, people with educational zeal for their childrens, waiting in front of the school to pick up their kids and head to another private institution after school ?

 I have spent a lot of time near by Gangnam station. 

The image of Gangnam for me is not only those things I mentioned above.

It’s more like a dangerous, conspiratorial, secret area.

 In November, 2018, there was an issue in a club named Burning sun, which is located in Gangnam

A man is assaulted by a group of people include the club guards in the club hence in interrupted their business.

And after this issue the club is investigated and shoking issue has been came out continually.

Here is the contents of the news

In the last few months, over 4,000 people in Seoul’s Gangnam district, including several K-pop stars, have been questioned over allegations involving drugs, prostitution, sexual assault and illicit filming linked to Gangnam’s club scene.

Police have arrested 354 people in connection with what has become known as the ‘Burning Sun scandal’ — named for the club at the centre of the allegations — with 87 of those being arrested for procuring prostitutes, illicit filming without consent and rape. The actual number of assaults is believed to be much higher.

According to a BBC investigation, rich clients at clubs in Gangnam were prepared to pay thousands of dollars to have girls drugged and taken to a nearby hotel room so that the clients could rape them, often on camera.

The system worked like this. Hosts, known as MDs, would build relationships with “pretty girls” and bring them to clubs with the promise of free drinks. MDs would then encourage the girls to drink with their clients, known as VVIPs, taking 13-15 per cent of the profits from drink sales. The VVIPs would request that MDs drug the girls, often with a substance known as GHB, or Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate. The girls would be taken to nearby hotel rooms, where men would sexually assault them. Some men would take videos of the assaults and share them online, or use them to prevent the girls from going to the police.

VVIPs described drugging these girls as a “game”, and one rich VVIP told the BBC that he preferred ‘normal girls’ to prostitutes because of the “sense of achievement” of gaining access to something he wasn’t allowed to have.

“Bring me zombies”, one VVIP reportedly told an MD, requesting that the MD drug two girls for him.

GHB (the “date rape drug”) is an odourless, colourless sedative that can cause loss of consciousness, amnesia and hallucinations in higher doses. GHB only stays in the system for a few hours, making it difficult to detect in a blood test. Further, girls who can’t remember the details of their assaults are reluctant to come forward for fear of not being believed.

Many underage girls were also recruited to have sex with paying customers. The girls were promised jobs in the entertainment industry or even plastic surgery in exchange for “working” at the clubs for two to three years. Sex with a minor is statutory rape under South Korean law.

This serious crime has been happened in the “korea’s Beverly hills” Gangnam, and no one can estimate when and where did this started from, and how it has been changed. Now we can ask question, is that Gangnam style which has been so famous all over the world? 

  I mentioned that Gangnam is also famous for Korea’s biggest entertainment companies including the company where PSY is assigned to. K-pop industry takes a huge part in terms of both economically and culturally in korea. And the district is in the middle of K-pop industry, and here is contents about another side of K-pop industry in the same news

How K-pop drew attention to Gangnam abuses

On 14 June, Yang Hyun-suk, head of YG Entertainment, one of South Korea’s top three entertainment agencies, resigned amid a series of scandals connected to the Gangnam district. Yang is under investigation for covering up a police probe into drug sales to one of his artists, procuring prostitutes for investors and tax evasion.

YG is known for the success of bands like BIGBANG and BLACKPINK, as well as ‘Gangnam Style’ artist Psy. The company’s shares have dropped from KRW48,900 (US$42.29) in January to KRW28,400 (US$24.56) this month.

Seungri, ex-member of BIGBANG and part owner of the Burning Sun nightclub, retired from music in March after evidence emerged in which he and three others discussed, via text messages, supplying prostitutes to potential investors. He denies the allegations, but dropped his career in the wake of massive public backlash.

Later that week, singer Jung joon-young confessed to filming women without their consent and sharing the videos in a chatroom, in which Seungri and another artist were allegedly also members. Jung was charged with illegal filming and leaking visual material. He was also charged with filming a partner without her consent in 2016, but those charges were dropped when the allegations were withdrawn.

This week, Psy was questioned for attending a dinner in 2014 with Yang and Malaysian businessman Jho Low, who is an international fugitive after masterminding Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal. YG allegedly offered prostitutes to the investors at the dinner. Psy admitted he introduced the investors to Yang, but denies involvement in the prostitution.

The scandals involving celebrities have encouraged others to come forward. When reports surfaced that police officers were “purposely conducting incomplete investigations”, President Moon Jae-in removed the Gangnam station chief and called for an investigation into alleged police corruption.

Many are frustrated that it took a spotlight on the police and celebrities to probe the allegations of widespread sexual exploitation in Gangnam.

Entrenched sexism in ‘K-beauty’ norms, perpetuated by K-pop stars

South Korea’s rampant misogyny is reflected in the country’s multi-billion dollar entertainment and beauty industries, which convey mutually reinforcing messages.

Female K-pop stars often build their success on overt sexualisation and face intense pressure from their labels to look and act a certain way. ‘No dating’ clauses are common in K-pop contracts because the artists are selling a ‘product’ — a ‘character’ that their label creates for them. K-pop star HyunA’s ‘character’ was designed to sell a “sex fantasy”, and that fantasy was shattered when she revealed she was dating fellow star E’Dawn. The two were subsequently dropped from their label for breaching their contracts.

Female K-pop stars have also come under fire for sharing content that could be construed as feminist. Contrastingly, male groups, such as the record-breaking BTS, have drawn praise for their socially progressive messages about self-acceptance and mental health.

In February, the South Korean government attempted to pass non-mandatory guidelines restricting the number of K-pop idols a TV programme can show at one time, for fear of perpetuating unrealistic standards of beauty. The government later withdrew the guidelines after opposition critics likened them to censorship under the military dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan, who imposed rigid standards on the length of hair and skirts allowed.

Seoul is often dubbed the “plastic surgery capital of the world”, with over 500 clinics in the Gangnam district alone and over one million surgeries per year. Research firm Gallup Korea estimated that one in three women in South Korea aged 19-29 has had plastic surgery, though some estimates put that number higher.

Critics say the industry exploits entrenched gender norms and preys on the insecurities of young women for profit.

“Korean society has become completely distorted by this rush to undergo surgery and, speaking personally, I believe it is very sad that it has shifted to the point that women are seen merely as sex objects that have to undergo the scalpel to be perfect,” Emanuel Pastreich, head of the Asia Institute, told the Telegraph in 2018.

 So What is Gangnam style?

What is happening in the korea’s Beverly hills? How many womens are being abused in Gangnam and how many people are disregarding serious crimes or agreeing with that?

The club Burning sun has been closed since that issue, but we never know how many second Burning suns are in Gangnam already, and will be formed. 

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