Nearly half of shops at shopping mecca in Seoul emptied Buildings offered in fire sale

Pulse

A man walks on an empty street in Myeongdong, a shopping centre in Seoul popular for tourists visiting the South Korean capital. (Pulse photo)

SEOUL: Nearly half of the stores at Myeongdong, a tourist shopping mecca in downtown Seoul, have become empty amid absence of tourists for nearly 18 months.

According to data released by Korea Real Estate Board on Wednesday, the vacancy rate of small-sized commercial spaces in Myeongdong amounted to 43.3% in the second quarter ended June, reaching a record high after adding five percentage points from the previous quarter, Pulse reported.

The regular summer scene of sales pitch in Chinese and Japanese is no more as the streets are near empty day and night.

Other commercial districts in Seoul have also been hit hard from the prolonged Covid-19 crisis.

Commercial spaces in Itaewon, a multicultural neighbourhood in central Seoul, and Hongdae and Hapjeong, a trendy street for the young in northern Seoul, showed a vacancy rate of 31.9% and 22.6%, respectively, much higher than the average of 6.5% in overall Seoul.

The emptied streets are in stark contrast to the busy property transactions in the commercial areas. According to Realty Planet, the number of commercial and office building transactions from January to June grew 42% from the same period last year to 2,036, and the trading volume reached the highest since 2006 at 18.4 trillion won (528 billion baht).

Industry sources said the commercial building transactions are active in Seoul as existing owners put up their buildings on sale as they cannot afford the jump in property taxes amid reduced tenants at bargain prices.

A real estate expert said a building in Hongdae was recently sold at a bargain at 12 billion won due to the slow leasing business.

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