Seoul to Limit Visiting Hours for Popular Tourist Village

Bukchon Hanok VillageBukchon Hanok Village

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will restrict tourists from visiting the popular Bukchon Hanok Village early in the morning and late at night, after residents protested against "disrespectful and excessive" tourism.

According to the city government's new scheme revealed Thursday, tourists will be allowed to use Bukchon only between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visiting will be banned on Sundays. The rule is expected to come into effect in July, the Korea Times reported.

The change comes after dozens of residents protested about an overwhelming influx of tourists. Over the past few months, the residents have urged the government to limit the flow, saying they have run out of patience with tourists seriously undermining the quality of their lives.  

A Hanyang University study shows that the number of Bukchon residents dropped to 7,438 last year from 8,719 in 2012. Many people who used to live there said they left due to stress from noise and invasion of privacy.

The village, which has been designated as a Hanok Conservation Area, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. It draws 10,000 visitors every day, about 70% of whom are non-Koreans.

The city government has also pledged to solve illegal parking issues and better take care of trash. More sanitation workers will be assigned to the village and more public restrooms will be installed. Yet some residents are still unhappy with what the officials have come up with.

"The streets of Gahoe-dong are more like alleys. When a coach disgorges 30-50 tourists who walk through en masse, there is no chance of finding a balance [for sustainable tourism]," David Kilburn, a British man who has lived in Gahoe-dong in the village since 1988, told the Korea Times.


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