On Sunday, I visited Bucheon for the first time in 7 years so I could visit a friend and former coworker. Bucheon was where I first lived in Korea when I arrived 20 years ago (and I wrote a long post about its history up to the 1980s here). I had been struck by certain changes the last time I visited, but it was even more stark this time around. When I first arrived in Bucheon, the Jung-dong New City was still relatively new - the apartments had mostly been built between 1993 and 1995, but a few complexes were finished as late as 1997, making them just four years old when I arrived. A 1 km-long stretch of the main street, Gilju-ro, where subway Line 7 runs now, had vast swaths of empty space on either side when I first arrived. At that time, the north side had only four buildings, and when I left two years later, there were only 4 spaces left. In the meantime, a large section of Sang-dong, to the west, went from empty space to an area full of officetels and shopping complexes in that same time period, which astonished me at the time. In the time since I left, tall officetels have gone up in many places in that area, but on this latest visit, there were two large 50-story apartment complexes, one finished, and one being built, which stood to the east of City Hall, where the old one-story bus station used to be:
The view of them from a side street:
What an unbalanced monstrosity those tall apartments are.
From the same height, looking north. Off to the left and north - surrounding the shorter apartments of Jung-dong New City, are a handful of taller apartments built in the last decade; otherwise the view hasn't changed that much.
In the summer of 2002, construction began once again, and it was eventually turned into a Hyundai Department Store.
By that point, an empty lot across the street from it had been turned into what is now Emart, but was originally Walmart (under construction below in December 2001).
As always, the only constant is change, particularly in a 30-year-old Korean new city.