The Korea Herald


[From the Scene] The Hyundai Seoul turns Yeouido into young shoppers' mecca

Celebrating its third anniversary, the shopping complex has attracted millennials and Generation Z through pop-up stores, trendy dining spots

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : March 5, 2024 - 16:55

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Young fans go through a pop-up store installed to promote virtual idol group PLAVE on the fifth floor of The Hyundai Seoul. (The Korea Herald/Shim Woo-hyun) Young fans go through a pop-up store installed to promote virtual idol group PLAVE on the fifth floor of The Hyundai Seoul. (The Korea Herald/Shim Woo-hyun)

Just a few years ago, the streets of Yeouido, Seoul's main finance and investment banking district normally full of white-collar workers during weekdays, were quiet during weekends.

But now, the high-profile opening of The Hyundai Seoul, the largest retail mall in Korea's capital, has reinvigorated the area, making it a shopping mecca for those in their 20s and 30s in only three years.

“I can see more people, particularly younger people, coming to this office district in Yeouido after The Hyundai Seoul opened,” said Kim, a 51-year-old man who operates a restaurant in the area.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, it was not difficult to find restaurants and cafes near The Hyundai Seoul bustling with people. More towards the shopping complex, young people were walking on the streets in the main finance district in Yeouido carrying bags emblazoned with The Hyundai's logo.

“I came to The Hyundai with my friends to check out a pop-up store,” Song, a 20-year-old woman said.

In the three years since its opening in February 2021, The Hyundai Seoul has quickly established itself as a must-visit shopping site among Korea's so-called MZ generation -- millennials and Generation Z.

Pop-up stores, which target this generation, have played an important role, according to an official from Hyundai Department Store.

“Which fashion brands and pop-up stores get introduced at The Hyundai Seoul depends heavily on whether they can appeal to younger customers,” the official said.

Younger customers account for the majority of visitors to the shopping mall. According to data released by the department store operator on The Hyundai Seoul’s third anniversary, a total of 126 million people visited The Hyundai Seoul since its opening in 2021, and visitors under 40 accounted for 58 percent of the total number of visitors, or some 7.3 million visitors.

Hyundai Department Store added that around 75 percent of customers who made purchases at its pop-up stores were MZ customers. The pop-up stores have additionally drawn over 2 million customers on an annual basis.

At The Hyundai Seoul on Sunday, the busiest areas were also ones with stores that are popular among the younger generation. The fifth and sixth floors, which house exhibitions and pop-up stores, as well as the second basement floor of The Hyundai Seoul, were particularly crowded.

“Around 2,000 people visit this pop-up store daily,” an employee working at a pop-up store installed to promote virtual idol group PLAVE.

On the second basement level, The Hyundai Seoul has set up a pop-up store for Stellive, a six-member virtual content creator group that used to stream on Twitch and now streams on Naver’s new streaming platform, Chzzk.

“I came to buy Stellive merchandise, but I found out some of them were sold out,” a male fan of Stellive said without disclosing his identity.

The Hyundai Seoul also has many cafes and restaurants that young people like. “My friends and I occasionally visit The Hyundai Seoul during weekends because it has many dessert cafes,” said Shin, a 23-year-old college student. Shin added there are many pop-up stores that are fun to look around.

Pop-up stores at The Hyundai Seoul have become a key to its success in attracting young people and creating additional revenue. Since its opening, The Hyundai Seoul has housed around 700 pop-up stores, and over 100 billion won ($74.9 million) in sales were created from them, according to the company.

Revenue from those visitors who are in their 20s and 30s also accounted for around 55 percent, much higher than the company’s other department store branches, where sales from them account for only 24.8 percent on average.

The company added that revenue from pop-up stores and related increases in visitors helped The Hyundai Seoul to post 1 trillion won in sales two years and nine months after its opening.

“Department stores were largely perceived as shopping areas for those who are in their 40s and 50s. But, by introducing a variety of pop-up stores, The Hyundai Seoul was able to turn a department store into a cultural space where visitors can enjoy the newest trends and lifestyle,” Hyundai Department Store said.

The Hyundai Seoul’s contribution to energizing the financial district of Seoul, particularly during weekends, has also been significant.

People walk around the first basement level of The Hyundai Seoul. (The Korea Herald/Shim Woo-hyun) People walk around the first basement level of The Hyundai Seoul. (The Korea Herald/Shim Woo-hyun)

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s data, the number of visitors to Yeouido had previously peaked at between 30,000 and 50,000 on Saturdays and Sundays in 2020.

But after The Hyundai Seoul’s launch in February 2021, the figure started to rise despite the social distancing rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2021, the number of visitors on weekends peaked at around 59,000, and the weekend figure remained largely above 50,000 throughout the year. After the social distancing rules were lifted, visitors to Yeouido on weekends in April 2022, peaked at approximately 120,000.

The monthly number of visitors under age 30 also increased significantly. The number of under-30 visitors to Yeouido in January 2020 came to some 1.3 million, but it increased to 1.7 million in January 2024.

“Visitors to The Hyundai Seoul appear to also look around the adjacent stores and restaurants, which are benefiting from the recent influx of visitors to The Hyundai Seoul,” an industry source said.