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Seoul City looks to ban foreign goods in Insa-dong

Seoul City is looking to ban the sale of foreign-made products in Insa-dong, officials announced Monday.

Officials at the Seoul Metropolitan Government are concerned about the overflow of low-quality goods, mostly from China, that are flooding the streets of Insa-dong’s Cultural Town.

Designated as a cultural district in 2002, the 700-meter long street is one of Seoul’s most popular tourist attractions for traditional Korean crafts. According to the Korea Tourism Organization, some 40 percent of Korean crafts are exchanged within the 175,743 square meters.

In order to preserve the flow of tourists looking for traditional Korean crafts, capital officials are planning to add a clause in the Culture and Arts Promotion Act that forbids the sales of goods made outside of the country.

“We are currently looking into revising the act, after the Jongno-gu Office voiced concerns that the flood of low quality foreign-made goods is threatening Insa-dong’s status as a cultural district,” said a Seoul official.

“If the revision passes the city council within the year, the sales of foreign-made goods could be banned by next year,” said the official whose name was undisclosed to the media.

The capital is also planning to add cosmetic stores, cell phone vendors and private academies to the list of establishments to be prohibited from opening within Insa-dong.

“There have been 11 cosmetic stores that opened up within the cultural district in the past four years,” said one district official.

It is reported that Insa-dong can see up to 100,000 tourists walk its streets a day during the weekends.

By Robert Lee