Trend Korea/Culture/Program/KBS World Radio
A cluster of handmade shoes shops in Seongsu-dong, Seoul bustles with customers looking for reasonably priced, quality shoes made with care by skilled craftsmen.
- I like shoes. I bought four pairs today, and they are too cheap for their quality. Today I bought strap sandals, because the summer will be here soon. Shoes and accessories complete fashion.
- It’s my first time here. The shoes are all leather, but priced really low and all pretty. They are really cheap. A pair like this would cost more than 200 dollars in department stores, but here they’re handmade and cost only forty dollars. They are made right here in the shop, so I can be sure of their quality.
The handmade shoe town in Seongsu-dong is the Mecca of hand-crafted shoes, comprised of some thirty handmade shoe stores and 350 shoe-making factories. Here’s Ms. Park Dong-hee, president of the Seongsu-dong shoemakers’ association.
In the olden days handmade shoes shops were mainly in the Jongno, Namdaemun, and Hoehyeon-dong areas. But the opening of department stores in the vicinity jacked up the rent and big department stores started selling mass-produced shoes, pushing smaller shoe factories out of the neighborhood and to Seongsu-dong. At the time rent was cheap in Seongsu-dong, so factories and shops gathered here, making this a shoe town. There were about 700 of shoe-making businesses, but now only 350 remain. Many of the shoemakers have grown too old and their skills are lost with no one to pass them down to. Brand name shoes are outsourced to China and young Koreans don’t want to learn how to make shoes by hand anymore. So we decided to put our resources together so as not to let the skill die out. All the businesses here are 100% handmade shoe stores and factories. READ MORE