Unlike other developed nations, Koreans are not crazy about living in a house. In fact, the popular notion of owning a house which is a quintessential part of the ‘American Dream’ is pretty much non-existent here. For many Koreans, living in one of the high-rise apartment buildings that are sprawled all across Seoul, is a lifelong dream. Korea is the land of ‘concrete jungle’. About 60-70% of the total population resides in big, blocky, rectangular buildings.
These blocky structures are everywhere. In reality, the city government in many provinces encourages and help developers to pull down the older buildings, in order to allow room for modern apartment buildings.
High-rise complexes are highly sought after. They are high tech, modern and include amenities such as security offices, surveillance cameras, parks, parking lots and senior citizens centers. This is reflected even when it comes to the mortgage. Banks lend more money to families who plan to buy an apartment in one of the high rises, over other types of houses.
In fact, these high-rise complexes also affect the social life. For example, many newlywed couples put off having kids until they can buy a place in one of these concrete blocks. Consequently, adding to the low birthrate issue. In order to tackle this situation, most city governments now require certain percentage of new apartments to go to newlywed couples with at least one baby.
This unique love for apartments can be attributed to Korea’s modernization. High-rise apartments have become synonymous with Koreans’ image of the good life. In Korea, apartments have become products measured by price. Korean mothers consider moving to apartments when their children reach school age as a status symbol.
Expensive high-rise apartments indicate financial gain and good social status. Many Koreans move into certain apartment complexes for job prospects or education. They want a place in the popular apartment complexes in an attempt to elevate their social status. It is an important part of ‘keeping up with the joneses’.
Many Koreans believe that moving to certain high-rise apartments can improve their future prospects. They think that if you or your children are friends with peers who are from similar circles, it can highly improve your chances when it comes to getting into a good school or a promotion.
In addition, most Korean houses are old and uncomfortable. On average, houses are poorly built. In comparison, apartments are modern and provide a pleasant living environment. Apartments are also comparatively safer and most newer buildings have security guards and surveillance cameras.
Most apartment buildings also have fast, reliable internet. Usually the new buildings have fiber-optic main line cables installed. Therefore, people living in apartment buildings can share one line, rather than requiring independent installations in each house. Needless to say, this makes life extremely comfortable in this fast pace world.
Apartments remain one of ‘THE’ preferred residential option for most Koreans. The popularity of high-rise apartments in Korea is on the rise, with no indication of slowing down anytime soon. It’s a unique part of the cultural charm. The high-rise apartments dominate the skyline and will continue to do so in the near future.