Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dongdaemun, Faking Popularity

The Dong-A has a piece on how "Dongdaemun is Korea's fashion center". Some key parts:

On a weekday, the scenery of Dongdaemun Shopping Town makes you think of an apartment construction site. High-rise construction tower cranes are moving busily here and there, building extra-large shopping malls such as Fashion TV (2,088 shops) and Goodmorning City (4,000 shops).

According to the Seoul Business Agency, the number of shops in Dongdaemun Shopping Town is approximately 31,200. The number is expected to rise by over seven thousand by the end of 2007 to a total of over 38,500...

The government and the city of Seoul are also making an effort to make Dongdaemun into an industrial base to lead the future of Korean fashion....

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Labor, and Korea Industrial Complex Corporation are working together to create a sewing cluster in the old city parking lot site. The government is planning on linking nearby shopping malls with this cluster in order to make a base for everything: planning, design, sewing, and marketing.

Sounds like great booming area. However the article does not mention the underbelly of why Dongdaemun is proving so popular:

The government crackdown on counterfeiting will be strengthened, and commercial areas notorious for selling counterfeits will be monitored and police enforcement increased, the Korea Intellectual Property Office said yesterday...

Three commercial areas infamous for selling counterfeits in Seoul — Dongdaemun Market, Namdaemun Market and Itaewon — were named to the red zone. - Joongang Ilbo, February 26, 2004

Korea has been infamous for decades for the ingenuity of its counterfeiters; Itaewon and Dongdaemun markets have been magnets for Koreans and foreign tourists looking for knock-off fashion at bargain-basement prices. Take your pick: Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, Gucci, Nike — the list goes on. - Joongang Ilbo, February 22, 2004

The Korea Apparel Industry Association's Center for Intellectual Property Rights Protection...was established on March 2. Since then, it has found 17 cases of fabrication, notably in the Dongdaemun and Namdaemun markets and warehouses in the Seoul metropolitan area. - Joongang Ilbo, June 9, 2004

Prosecutors indicted yesterday 17 Korean ginseng merchants on charges of passing off imported Chinese red ginseng as the more expensive domestic product...merchants, working at the Gyeongdong herbal medicine market in Dongdaemun, Seoul, told customers the product was cheap because it hadn't been certified by the government. - Joongang Ilbo, February 3, 2005

Walking down a narrow lane of handbag shops in Seoul's Dongdaemun Market offers a quick education in the counterfeit market in Korea. Most of the 100 or more stalls on either side of the street are offering handbags and purses with such recognizable logos as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel.

But instead of displaying the actual goods, merchants invite shoppers to peruse catalogues spread out on tables. "We give 15 percent off the price listed in the catalogue," one said. "They're so real, you can't tell the difference from the original." The merchant said he could fetch whatever the customer wanted from the catalogue...

On so-called "Fake Avenue" near Dongdaemun Stadium, vendors do business only after sunset, and draw young customers willing to fight their way through the crowded, narrow street for a deal. - Joongang Ilbo August 23, 2005

Here's this week's tip on Korean language and customs:

Q: My friends and I went shopping to the Dongdaemun market late at night and saw that the entire floors of some of the largest shopping centers there and also street carts carried a lot of luxury import brands. In one store, a pair of Gucci sneakers cost over $300, while another pair looking exactly the same cost one tenth of that. What's the deal? - Joongang Ilbo, May 16, 2006

Now keep in mind this is just the citations from ONE newspaper in the past couple years. If I wanted to I could find more all across the Korean media about this aspect of Dongdaemun.

So excuse me as I chortle at the idea of "Dongdaemun is Korea's fashion center".


At August 31, 2006 11:27 PM, Anonymous dda said...

The only way to stop the sales of counterfeited products there would be to level the place. Plain and simple. But this would be a little detrimental to the economy, so they let it go...


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