What do people in Euljiro 3-ga do?
Line 2: Station — Line 3: Station #330
They put on suits and ties and go to work in the gleaming new glass and steel office towers that crowd the intersection of Eulji-ro and Samil-daero. Or they put on white hard hats and reflective vests and go to work building more towers. If they need a break, they relax in Berlin Square (베를린광장), where they sit on benches of the same design, rest their feet on pavement of the same pattern and read by the light of a streetlamp of the same make as those in the German capital. They gaze at a Buddy Bear with images of Namdaemun and the Brandenburg Gate on its sides, and they gaze at a section of the Berlin Wall.
Since 1948 they’ve gone to Andongjang (안동장) for lunch, where chefs make all the usual Korean-Chinese fusion dishes, but are most famous for their oyster jjamppong noodle soup.
On the street in front of the Cheonggyecheon Stream they sell tools. They sell pneumatic drills, weed-whackers, chainsaws and circular saws. They sell packing tape, duct tape and caution tape. They sell floodlights, magnets and the concrete slabs embossed with yellow, Lego-like bumps on one side that serve as sidewalk guides for the blind. On Eulji-ro they sell bath accessories, with rows of toilets and urinals viewable in showrooms. On sidewalks they set up displays of faucet handles, lined up like taps at a bar. Further east, they sell fluorescent bulbs, iridescent bulbs and LED bulbs at light fixture shops.
To the south, they buy Leicas, Polaroids, film and tripods at Chungmuro’s camera stores. If they’re really serious they buy two-foot-long lenses and professional lighting equipment. If their camera is broken, they get it repaired. If they want to mount their work, they get it matted and framed.
In the alleys between Eulji-ro and Toegye-ro workers wear white tank tops and toil in printing shops where enormous machines spit out advertisements for golf courses, labels for food containers and magazine pages. They work amid the head-lightening smell of glue and the crisp, clean smell of fresh paper.
In Seun Daerim Arcade (세운대림상가) workers sell walkie-talkies, bullhorns and stereo equipment. They disassemble TVs for parts and they try to offload old tape decks. They store the discarded chassis of old Korean and Japanese arcade games, and next to these they store crane games and video poker and slot machines. And somewhere, someone – a potential customer? A bored employee? – repeatedly mutters “Ah, ah, ah” into a microphone, filling the cramped, enclosed space with a disembodied mantra as all around the work of Euljiro 3-ga carries on.
Berlin Square 베를린광장
Straight on Eulji-ro 을지로,
right on Samil-daero 삼일대로
Straight on Eulji-ro 을지로
Hours | 11:30 AM-9 PM, Closed Seollal and Chuseok
Chungmuro’s camera stores
Straight on Chungmu-ro 충무로,
right on Mareunnae-ro 2-gil 마른내로2길
Seun Daerim Arcade 세운대림상가
Straight on Eulji-ro 을지로
Written by Charles Usher