|Myeong-dong shopping street is packed with shoppers for the 2023 Korea Grand Sale promotional event held in Seoul on Jan. 12. Korea Times file|
By Kim Jae-heun
An increasing number of foreign tourists are visiting Myeong-dong, once a shopping and tourism mecca located in central Seoul, as Korea phases out quarantine measures against COVID-19. Many retailers that closed their stores during the pandemic are returning to the shopping street, this time in bigger and more glamorous spaces.
Japanese flat-rate daily supplies store chain Daiso is reopening its Myeong-dong branch at the end of February. It had to close its previous store last March while Korea closed its borders to foreign tourists, who had accounted for more than half of its customers.
However, as Korea has been lifting travel bans and almost all of its remaining quarantine measures, tourists are returning to shop in the area, and Daiso decided to target the increasing shopping demand of foreign tourists.
The new Daiso store will use the whole 12-story building with 1,652 square meters of floor space, which is double the size of its previous one.
"It is the second-biggest Daiso store in Seoul," a Daiso official said. "After analyzing consumer purchase data at its Myeong-dong branch between 2019 and 2021, we will organize each floor with different item categories."
Adidas also returned to Myeong-dong last month, only a year after closing its store there. It opened the country's biggest flagship store in a two-story building that is about the size of 2,500 square meters. The first floor sells sportswear and running and training sneakers, while the second floor focuses on sports-specific products for soccer, basketball and hiking.
ABC-Mart also opened its fourth Myeong-dong store last December. The Japanese footwear company will distinguish each store by selling different products according to shoppers' preferences.
According to the Seoul Tourism Foundation, the number of foreign visitors to tourism information centers in the capital city stood at 492,767 from January to November 2022. This is eight times more than the number seen in the same period of the previous year. At the information center in Myeong-dong, 81 percent of its 15,747 visitors were foreign.