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Navigating the Urban Space in Seoul: DDP as a Metaphoric Site of Korean Diaspora, Displacement, and Postmemory

Sun, June 26, 8:30 to 10:20am, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 113


Urban spaces are constantly changing living entities. Although city planners, politicians, and architects are the ones who spearhead the design and construction of important city buildings and districts, it is scholars who connect the histories, collective memories, and communal dreams to the process of fabricating the urban spaces. The Dongdaemun Design Plaza, better known as the DDP, has been a popular landmark in Seoul, South Korea ever since it was inaugurated in March 2014. Designed by Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi British architect renowned for her neo-futuristic style, the DDP is now widely viewed as the hub of the Korean design and fashion industry and a showcase of the nation’s cultural and technological innovation. As a newly developed icon, how has the DDP come to symbolize Korea’s national identity? How does the urban design and architecture perform as a marker of Seoul’s history and city fabric? This paper traces the historical significance of the district of Dongdaemun as the leading site of Korean modernity and attempts to read the diasporic sensibility of Koreans and their sense of displacement and collective memory embedded in the process of developing the cityscape.