[Society] Commercialization Still Heats Up Controversy Around Campuses
[Society] Commercialization Still Heats Up Controversy Around Campuses
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  • 승인 2006.06.01 00:00
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▲ [Photo by Kim Ji-sun]Commercialization in front of the main gate of Ewha has always steered controversy in and around the campus area.
   "What a pity. We are the unfortunate generation with no memories to keep," says Christine Lee (International Studies, 3) as she walks down the road from the Ewha main gate to the subway station which has gone through reconstruction at least a dozen times since her entrance to the university three years ago. As commercialization in front of universities becomes more and more widespread and shops open and close down every few months, many students feel the same way as Lee. "Sometimes I don't know if I am coming to shop or to receive education," says Hong Jin (Business Administration, 2). The overlap of academic pursuits and profit-making businesses has fueled a conflict regarding commercialization in front of universities.
   Commercialization in the past?
   According to Lee Choul-hun, the owner of Badukee's Place, a photo studio that has been located right in front of Ewha's main gate ever since the Korean War, the environment and surroundings of Ewha forty years ago were completely different from the current picture. "Back in the 60s and 70s, streets in front of Ewha were well-known for their boutiques and dressmaking shops, which were upper-class products. Then hair shops and shoe stores came in with restaurants, no longer allowing Ewha streets to be the symbol of luxury," says Lee.
   Changes that are inevitable?
   Lee believes that the recipe behind his family's successful photo shop management over three generational periods, despite aggressive competition and commercialization, lays in coexisting with the students and meeting their needs. According to Lee, he has put vast efforts into shifting his marketing strategy in line with the revolutionizing technology. In contrast, says, Lee, the reason behind the failures of most shops are mainly due to their inability to satisfy the students' transforming demands
However, Oh Hyun-joon, the director of general operation of the new pretzel store Auntie Annie's, recently established at a site notorious for business failures, states that the quick turnover of shops in front of Ewha may be inevitable because the rent is expensive and the owners of the shops cannot afford to sustain them. Moreover, says Oh, Ewha is a benchmarking zone where many shops start their businesses to test females' sensitivity to new products.
   Winning strategies?
   Whereas most industries are facing hardships in trying to satisfy the ever-so quickly changing tastes of young trendsetters, one industry is steadily earning profits and hatching out the fierce competition with its unique item. Senbei, otherwise referred to as Japanese style rice cracker, is being more and more sought after by students who feel that the overly sugary donuts from Krispy Kreme are too fattening and the pastries from Paris Croissant, in contrast, too plain. Kim Yu-gang, the owner of the senbei store "The House that sells Memories," which is located near the front gate of Hyundai Department Store in Sinchon, feels confident about the future of the shop despite the competition amidst heavy commercialization. "If a shop has its own specialty that no one else can mimic, it will survive no matter what," commented Kim.
   Unconstructive Learning?
   Jennifer Kim, a junior at the University of Michigan in the United States, has visited in and around the Ewha campus numerous times during her visits to Seoul. She considers too much commercialization detrimental to students' education. "The learning environment at the University of Michigan is so much different from that of Ewha. Students can fully concentrate on their studies without being distracted by other leisure factors," says Kim. "Of course universities located in more metropolitan areas such as New York City offer students with entertainments. Nonetheless, even that itself is not similar to the commercialization in front of Korean universities because the 'targeting' of consumers is different," adds Kim.
   Commercialization here to stay?
   When asked to present an opinion regarding the commercialization in front of universities that are pervasive nowadays, Professor Yoo Chull (International Studies) replied that he feels nonaligned about the issue and does not feel there is a black or white answer to this social phenomenon. "Even the students seem to consider commercialization natural today because it has been with us for so long now and is almost an icon of students' university lives," says Yoo. "Commercialization in front of universities is ubiquitous. It may be done in a rosier and tidier manner in other European countries but, it's all the same old commercialization that's not likely to fade away any time soon," adds Yoo.

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