A large proportion of homes in Seoul are in multipurpose residential compounds called apartment complexes. Following the construction of a large complex in 1964 of a similar design to those of the present day, apartment complexes have expanded and been built all throughout the city. The first modern apartments built with the concept of being a complex were in a district of Seoul called Mapo, which is also where I currently live.
When I have to introduce the writer “Pyun Hye Young” to people, sometimes I want to begin by talking about this. What I mean is to point out that, in 1964 in the neighborhood where I now live, a multipurpose residential complex was built with an odd appearance, completely out of keeping with other forms of residential buildings in Seoul at the time. It was seen by some as a revolutionary means of solving the problem of overcrowding and lack of housing, but on the whole it had to withstand criticism from the perspective of aesthetics and popular sentiment.
Now there is no trace of the first apartment complex which once stood in Mapo—those apartments were demolished and replaced—but the whole area, aside from a few small exceptions, is piled high with apartments. Quite fittingly, I have been living close to where that first apartment complex, Mapo Apartments, once stood for over a decade now.
On top of that, I find myself wanting to tell people that I was born in Seoul and lived in Seoul the entire time was growing up. In fact, I have never spent more than two months away from the city; the longest holiday I’ve ever been on was two months.
Of course, I usually choose to talk instead about things like when I first started to write novels and what kinds of books I have had published. It’s a far clearer way to explain myself as a writer than talking about how I was born in Seoul and have lived all my life in apartment complexes.