Seoul's Garak Market Re-Development on its Way

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August 27, 2009

Established in 1985 as the first public wholesale market in Korea, Garak Market, with a total area of 543,451m2, is the center of trade for fruit, vegetables, meats and related products in Seoul. Since opening, about 7,600 tons of products have been traded daily (2,4 million tons yearly). Garak Market accounts for 36% of all the trade volumes combined in 33 wholesale markets nationwide, and it represents 46 % of the total quantity of agro-marine products consumed in Seoul. It is not only a large-scale wholesale market, but it also plays a pivotal role in agriculture product distribution in Korea by setting the standard price for agro-marine products. It also contributes to stabilizing supply and demand, as well as ensuring price transparency. Despite the important tasks it performs, Garak Market has had problems to address. Firstly, since it has had to deal with traded volumes 1.7 times (on average) more than was originally planned, congestion problems within the market have become increasingly worse causing unnecessary distribution costs. Furthermore, outdated facilities (built 23 years ago) add extra costs that make the market less efficient than some newly-built discount super stores. Additionally, due to the market's location in the city center, the market can cause traffic congestion as well as environmental degradation around the community. The central government, Seoul city government and SAMACO (the management body of the market) have now taken those issues into serious consideration and worked through various processes to balance the needs of everyone sharing an interest in the market. After a wide range of research by experts, discussions with resident committees and interested parties, a final decision to modernize Garak Market was made in December 2008. The redevelopment plan of the market will begin by focussing on constructing space-efficient, multi-tasking facilities equipped with a total control center which will allow Garak Market to transform into a more cost-effective wholesale market. Secondly, by expanding centers for packaging, processing, storaging, and delivering, and by establishing a more sophisticated cold chain, food hygiene and safety system, it will achieve optimized, modernized facilities for logistics and distribution. Thirdly, building a spacious parking space, constructing underground waste treatment facilities, and utilizing solar power and renewable energy will make it possible to develop a more convenient, pleasant and environmentally friendly wholesale market. Finally, it is hoped that developing parks, gyms, and market squares for locals will enhance the relationship with the local community. In addition, an agriculture distribution museum, traditional food quarters and cultural experience spaces will be created as tourist attractions within Seoul. The construction period is scheduled to last 11 years - from 2009 to 2020. The total costs are expected to be 750 billion Won (Euro 430 million). In order not to disturb daily trade during the redevelopment process, the construction will be divided into 3 separate phases.