Take a walk along Jibong-ro, Jongno-gu, or Changsin-dong, and you will encounter a group of apartment buildings much older than those usually found in downtown Seoul. This is the Dongdaemun Apartment Complex, the second oldest apartment complex in Seoul, after Chungjeong Apartment. This apartment complex has appeared frequently in various TV programs and films, and it is not uncommon to find more people with cameras here than local residents. When it was built 48 years ago, it was so popular that many popular entertainers moved here, thus its nickname, the “entertainer apartment”. In 2013, the apartment was designated as a Future Heritage of Seoul City.
Established in 1965 by the Korea National Housing Corporation, the Dongdaemun Apartment Complex consists of seven floors, including the basement, and the buildings were set up in a square formation. It was the first apartment complex in Korea with a courtyard in the middle. The courtyard has a traditional Korean jangdokdae (an outdoor platform for earthen jars) and a clothesline so that it may serve the purpose of a typical traditional Korean yard, thereby overcoming some of the disadvantages of apartment living. Also, the bridges that connect the opposite sides of the complex have promoted communication among the residents. Once a luxurious apartment complex that was home to national celebrities and possesses a unique structure with a central courtyard, the Dongdaemun Apartment Complex has lost much of its former glory since the 1960s, and is now viewed as an unsafe building on the verge of demolition for re-development, which is causing tension between the residents, who want to preserve it as a Future Heritage of Seoul City, and those who favor development.