Three years have passed since the renewal of Ewha 52nd street in 2017. However, the street is filled with for-rent signs and vacant stores. The stores are closed, the signs are off, and the windows are plastered with random flyers and for-lease signs.
“It seems like the street is losing its energy more and more as time goes by,” said Lee Da-yoon, a sophomore majoring in French Language & Literature.
Among 22 stores that are presented on the Ewha 52nd street map, only five stores are open for business and the rest had left the street as of Nov. 29. This means 77.27 percent of the youth startups left the street. The map, which shows the youth startups that were supported by the government, is no longer informative.
With the financial and academic support from Small Enterprise & Market Service (SEMAS), 22 young businessmen opened startup stores on the street as a part of the renewal of Ewha 52nd street in 2017. However, 17 of them left the street after the end of the support from SEMAS in 2018. Some of those emptied stores still has yet to be filled up since then.
“Some of the stores have remained empty for more than a year or two,” said a store owner on the Ewha 52nd street. “The lights are off and the street looks dark even during the day. It has been like this for quite a long time and things just don’t seem to get better.”
When asked on the reasons for the vacant stores on Ewha 52nd street, an officer from Seodaemun-gu replied that it was very hard to answer the problem. Since the officer has been newly assigned to be in charge of the Ewha 52nd street this year, he did not have much information to share.
“This is a very complicated issue,” the officer stated. “Although many stores might look vacant right now, there could be new stores entering the street in the near future. I believe stores moving in and out is a very natural phenomenon. Thus, this current situation that the street faces, could be a temporary thing as well.”
He further stated that more information was needed to clearly address the problem.
“We need to examine the present condition of the street and the data on the floating population to state the fundamental reasons for such situation,” he replied.
However, according to the officer, there were no studies done on the current status of the street even though almost three years has passed after the renewal in 2017. Furthermore, he was not aware that only five youth startups were remaining on the street.
When asked on this matter, the school had a similar response. An officer from Business Incubator commented that there was a clear increase in the floating population and a sharp drop in the store vacancy rate in 2017. Yet, both Seodaemun-gu and the school could not provide an up-to-date data on the circumstances of the street.
“It has been a few years since the project finished, so we don’t have much information on the current condition,” replied an officer from Ewha University-Industry Collaboration Foundation.
“It would have been better if the renewal of the Ewha 52nd street was carried out with a long-term plan,” Lee commented. “As a student, I believe a continuous management on youth startups is needed to make the Ewha 52nd street vibrant again.”