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S Korea: Close to half of the shops at Myeongdong streets shuttered due to pandemic

PETALING JAYA (July 30): The absence of international tourists for 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the closure of nearly half of the retail businesses at Myeongdong (pictured) in Seoul, South Korea, reported Pulse News Korea on July 29.

The news report, citing the data released by Korea Real Estate Board on July 28, said the vacancy rate of small-sized commercial spaces in Myeongdong amounted to 43.3% in the second quarter ended June, a record high after adding five percentage points from the previous quarter.

The once bustling Myeongdong streets that used to be packed with tourists, especially Chinese and Japanese travellers, are now empty and quiet.

According to the news report, other commercial districts in Seoul were also affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. For instance, commercial spaces in Itaewon, Hongdae and Hapjeong are seeing vacancy rates ranging from 22.6% to 31.9%.

Realty Planet reported that the number of commercial and office building transactions from January to June increased 42% from the same period last year to 2,036, and the trading volume reached the highest since 2006 at 18.4 trillion won (RM67.72 billion).

Quoting industry sources, the news report said the commercial building transactions are active in Seoul as existing owners are looking at cashing out due to hefty tax and difficulty in looking for tenants.

“A real estate expert said a building in Hongdae was recently sold at a bargain at 12 billion won due to the slow leasing business,” said the report.

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