Monday, June 18, 2007

Nowon-gu

Copyright Stephane MOT
Nowon-gu (노원구; ) is Seoul's Northeastest and most populated district.
Population : 619,509 inhabitants (2006)
Area : 35.44 km² (max 6 km W-E, max 9 km N-S)
City Hall and official website : http://english.nowon.seoul.kr/.

Photo : "Nowon noway" (2004 - Copyright Stephane MOT)

Geography :

Nowon's main frontiers are :

  • to the West, the Jungnangcheon. Part of the district (Wolgye-dong) lies on the other side of this confluent of the Han river which also separates Nowon from Dobong-gu.

  • to the East, Buramsan and Suraksan mountains (and beyond, the city of Namyangju)

  • to the North, the city of Uijongbu

  • to the South, the district of Jungnang-gu (plus Seongbuk-gu for Wolgye-dong)
Nowon consists of 24 dong and 5 major areas (see map) :
  • Sanggye - North (10 dong)

  • Junggye - Center East (5 dong)

  • Hagye - Center South (2 dong)

  • Wolgye - South West (4 dong)

  • Gongneung - South East (3 dong)

History :

Originally a quiet and flat valley of fields dotted with a few villages of farmers (some names do subsit - ie Madeul Station), Nowon was untill 1988 the Eastern part of Dobong-gu.


The new "gu" was meant to become a bed town for the booming population, mainly newly formed households who couldn't afford more central areas. Like in Jamsil, this massive development included from the start tens of blocs of 5 to 15 storey appartment buildings. But here, most appartments were small and remote from the new city centers.

Yet, thanks to its strong internal / demographical dynamics, Nowon managed to grow from a cheap bed town into a major hub at the North of the capital, with a soul of its own and Nowon Station at its heart :
  • transports : the crossroads of subway lines 4 and 7 will also welcome a major city air terminal bound to serve the North of Seoul and the neighboring cities. The old train terminal will be relocated in Namyangju and the Dobong driving center in a more remote area of the district).

  • commerce : all businesses and national / international franchises, including a Lotte Department Store born a medium range Midopa Department Store in 1992 and now the most luxurious store in North East Seoul. The city air terminal will also host a major commercial center.

  • services : the city hall, major corporations' local branches, plus all the district's motels are near the station.

  • culture : the baby boomers turned teenagers boost the Dept Store's movie theaters, and the local cultural center regularily proposes foreign shows. A new stadium is under construction.

  • environment : Sanggye's central area is getting greener. Closer thant the old mountain's regional parks : the Jungnangcheon's riverside park, the future central park, restoration of a smaller stream...
The most select area of the gu, Junggye, remains the hottest spot for schools and housing (plus many important stores, including a Lotte Mart and a Carrefour turned Homever in 2006). A new subway line will connect Eunhaeng Sageori / 은행사거리 (Crossroads of the Banks), a major center. Between Nowon and Eunhaeng Sageori, the small stream joining Suraksan and Bulamsan mountains to Jungnangcheon, Danghyeoncheon (당현천), will be restored and could become an important cultural axis.

Sanggye New Town will totally reshape Danggogae Station area... destroying some of the few slums remaining after the completion of Seoul's circular highway 100. The remote Junggye maeul is also disappearing. I had the time to take a few pictures of both before realtors took the rest...

Nowon was meant as a popular district, as in popular for the people. Traditionnaly spared by the real estate bubble, Nowon is now getting popular for investors as well, and many Gangnam-gu speculators have recently contributed to a dramatic rise in housing prices. Many blocks are being redevelopped and all the ingredients of a pleasant place are already there.

Stephane MOT 2006

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