IFC Mall opens in Seoul
Seoul’s Yeouido financial district finally offers major shopping and entertainment in the midst of all those shiny skyscrapers, in the form of the new US$2.2-billion IFC Mall Seoul.
The mall opens today following its final few days of frenzied construction.
The self-proclaimed “first international-style shopping mall in Korea” is one of the most ambitious retail projects in Korea in recent years, with 100 brands spread out over three lower levels totaling 40,000 square meters of floor space.
In addition to Korea’s first Hollister store and a Banana Republic flagship store, the mall also houses a nine-theater CGV complex, 35 new restaurants and the first Apple outlet (Frisbee) in southwest Seoul.
Developed by AIG Global Real Estate Development in conjunction with Seoul City and operated by Taubman Asia, the mall is part of the larger IFC project, which includes two office towers and Conrad Seoul Hotel, which is slated to open in November.
AIG invested US$440 million of the project's total cost of approximately US$2.2 billion.
Following the new retail trend
“In Korea, the trend in retail has been moving away from department stores and more towards shopping malls,” said AIG GRE Korea representative Vivian Ahn at a press conference for the mall opening.
“The other malls in Korea are connected to department stores which get all the good stores, while the left over shops are then put in the mall. IFC Mall Seoul does not have a department store, and our target audience is different and younger -- we are targeting office employees.”
The mall’s features are indeed markedly different from most of the shopping offerings available to date in Korea.
Unlike Korean department stores which have no windows (supposedly to stop shoppers from being aware of time passing), IFC Mall Seoul has been built with a glass pavilion aimed at showcasing natural light on all three lower level floors.
The outdoor area will be covered with a grass lawn that people can actually step on (gasp), and will feature seasonal exhibitions by artists and sculptors.
"To target foreign tourists, the mall will offer tax returns and English services at the customer service centers and the information desk," said Ahn.
Despite its size and scale, the mall has been met with relatively little fanfare leading up to its opening. This may be due its rather questionable location of Yeouido, which is a bustling financial hub by day, but turns into a ghost town in the evenings and on the weekends.
William Freeman, the head of AIG GRE Korea, said that he expected the IFC opening to transform Yeouido into a more dynamic destination.
“Already other stores in the area are renovating and improving their offerings,” he said.
While the organizers stressed the convenience of how the mall is connected to subway lines 5 and 9 via a moving walkway, be warned -- the distance to the mall from the exit at Youido Station on Line 5 is actually around two kilometers.
IFC Mall Seoul, Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu (영등포구 여의도동 IFC 몰); +82 2 6333 5700; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (restaurants and CGV theaters have their own opening hours); www.ifcseoul.com; Yeouido Station on subway lines 5 and 9
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