Gangnam literally means ‘south of the river,’
and this district in South Korea’s capital lies along the banks of the
Han, one of the country’s largest bodies of water. The
Greater Gangnam Area is widely known for its heavily concentrated wealth
and very high standard of living, which has been compared to cities such
as Beverly Hills, California. The most significant indicator is its extremely
expensive real estate. Seoul as a whole is known for its expensive housing
prices—as of 2011, its average apartment cost approximately US$5,500 per
m2—but the average price in Gangnam is almost twice as high which is 3.5
times the nationwide average.
"Gangnam Style" is a South Korean
neologism that refers to a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam District
where people are trendy, hip and exude a certain supposed "class". The
2012 K-pop song "Gangnam Style" by South Korean entertainer Psy was inspired
by, and its music video was shot in, the Gangnam District.The song and
video's popularity increased international awareness of the district. In
the music video, Psy can be seen dancing on top of the ASEM Tower with
the Trade Tower in the background. Psy was born and raised in the district.
Gangnam is home to some of the
largest Korean entertainment companies and TV stations. It was fascinating
to see fans cluttered around the entrances of company headquarters
and studios in the hopes of seeing a famous Korean idol.
By the Gangnam Station Exit 5
is a tribute to ‘Gangnam Style’ Here, tourists and locals can get on stage
and record themselves dancing to ‘Gangnam Style’ while the music plays
on loop in the background. We did a few dance moves on the stage but there
was no music playing while we were there . . . and we were the only ones
dancing. Since the air pollution in Seoul on that day was some of
the worst we had seen in any of the Asian countries, our guide supplied
us with face masks. We tried them but we had a hard time getting used to
them and soon abandoned them.
We spent some time exploring
the district before entering the underground Gangnam Station shopping mall.
Next stop was the high tech D'lite
building. Samsung D’light is an exhibition space that showcases the
latest technology founded by Samsung. Along with other visitors we interacted
with the technology on display.