“Ari reminds me of how Hongdae in Seoul used to be. It is where the top art University in the country is located. It was also fuelled by the power of the youth and indie artists who live on cheap rent doing art, music, and community initiatives.
Then gentrification came, more cafes and hip restaurants moved in, larger brands opened their stores, making everything more expensive, and these kids slowly moved out. To a Korean friend, I would say that Ari is equivalent to Yeonhui-dong district in that it’s a quiet, cultured, and wealthy neighborhood.
I see a lot of youth-led initiatives in Ari, like Your Neighbor Ari, AriAround and cool projects started by ex-pat friends. It makes me feel like I’m part of the area and keeps me interested in the momentum. There is no real solution for gentrification, but I saw in many countries how the government converted old buildings into living and working spaces for artists. So they don’t have to move out. In Seoul, I saw an old municipal compound turned into a youth co-working space and lots of Seed project funding.
To do big things, youth need space to try and fail. The city developer’s job is to keep them going, giving them space to fail with less risk, so they can be confident to do something extraordinary for the city.”
Bobae, an architect, urban designer, and activist