Among the major players of the
cultural content market, which
include Europe, North America
and Africa, South Korea consistently
ranks high despite its geographically
small size. In fact, in 2010, the
domestic market stood at KRW 72.12 trillion
(USD 61 billion), increasing by an
average of 4.7 percent annually since
2005. The hit 2016 Korean drama
Descendants of the Sun alone generated
more than KRW 3 trillion (USD 2.5 billion)
worth of economic effects for the
nation. The previous 2014 hit, My Love
from Another Star was estimated at USD
At the heart of Korea's media and entertainment (M&E) industry is Seoul, the nation's capital city and the epicenter of the country’s economy and culture. Seoul is one of the largest cities in the world and accounts for a whopping 45 percent of the country’s population and economic activity. Here is a closer look at Sangam-dong and Gwanghwamun, two of the most culturally rich areas in the city.
Steel and glass monuments attest to
Korea's cultural industry at Sangam-dong,
located northwest of Seoul.
Known as the center of the Korean Wave, Sangam-dong is home to major production and broadcasting companies, including MBC, SBS and CJ E&M. As of 2002, it has also been home to Digital Media City (DMC), a state-of-the-art M&E cluster stretching across a 569,925 ㎡ area.
The DMC is the center of the new Sangam Millennium City Plan along with the World Cup Stadium, World Cup Park and Eco Village (the restored
Nanjido landfill). The high-tech complex aims to
become the hub of Korea's entertainment
and digital content industry, fostering the
broadcasting, movies, games, music, elearning
and related industries. Visitors
can also learn about the history and value
of Korean films at the Korean Film
Museum or view films from around the
world at the Korean Film Archive's
Cinematheque. Attractions and facilities
at the DMC also include the DMC
Promotion Room, DMS (Digital Media
Street), DMC Artpia, Digital Pavilion and
the Korea Cultural Contents Center
(Korean Movie Museum).
Current tenants include technological heavyweights like Samsung SDS smart prism, Woori Technology, LG CNS Sangam IT Center and major media companies like KBS Media Center, YTN Media Center, JTBC, Hankook Ilbo and Joongang Ilbo.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government also constructed a city-wide IT broadband and wireless networks and provides tax incentives and favorably-priced land. Amenities targeting foreign companies are also one of the benefits of the DMC, including foreign schools, hospitals staffed by English-speaking workers and an apartment complex for long-term foreign rentals.
If Sangam-dong is the center of modern
M&E in Korea, Jongno District is the
crown of Korea's more traditional assets.
Gwanghwamun, located in the center of the district, is one of Seoul's most symbolic tourist attractions. The main gate to Gyeongbokgung Palace and an
important piece of Korea's
history, the 20,000㎡
area surrounding the gate, known as
Gwanghwamun Square, has become the
The square stretches out from Gwanghwamun to the Sejongno Intersection. Once the center of Hanyang, Korea's capital city during the Joseon Dynasty, the square was also home to most of the Korean government's major administrative departments. It's no wonder that it also became the epicenter of Korea's major media and telecommunications companies. Chosun Ilbo, Dong-A Ilbo, Kyunghyang Newspaper, Hankyeoreh and Maeil Business News, some of the largest newspaper companies in Korea are based in area, along with television stations like Dong-A TV, Channel A and Joongang TV. Academies dedicated to media like the SBS A&T Beauty School as well as conglomerates like SK Group, Kumho Asiana Group, Lotte Group, SK Group, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Daewoo E&C and Daelim Group are also located in the area.
Stretching across Gwanghwamun is the Cheonggyecheon Stream, and a part of the Jongno Cheonggye Special Tourist Zone. The entire 3.4 km stretch of the zone is a major attraction, offering a glimpse into Korea's traditional cultural scene including narrow alleys, fully intact traditional hanok buildings and palaces. Gwanghwamun also houses many of Korea's finest art at historic museums like Artsonje Center, Art Center Nabi, Bukchon Art Museum and National Folk Museum of Korea.