‘Chungmuro’: A Snippet of Korean Entertainment History

‘Chungmuro’: A Snippet of Korean Entertainment History thumbnail

Chungmuro often draws comparisons to Hollywood because of its impressive past. Chungmuro actors are revered in Korean showbiz as compared to several Hallyu stars

Chungmuro is still referenced and used as a symbol by the Korean film industry today. An inside shot of Chungmuro station and a part of the alley are included in the image. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Dear readers, it’s the weekend once again, which calls for another good glimpse into Korean culture, or more precisely, Korean entertainment, which boasts a rich history. I’m expecting you’d be intrigued to learn something that has offered me a lot of insightful information about this subject. The word “Hallyuwood” is likely familiar to everyone who consumes Korean dramas, movies, or television shows. If you weren’t aware, the moniker is a compound word that combines “Hallyu” (the Korean Wave) with “wood” from Hollywood; it’s a common colloquial term used to describe South Korean entertainment and the film industry.

Hallyuwood, Hollywood, and Bollywood are allegedly the three main foundations of the modern global entertainment business, per the Korean media. The three are regarded as the world’s most renowned filmmaking hotspots, something that takes me to Chungmuro, the boulevard of art, artists, and the film industry as a whole—a glorious chapter in the history of Korean entertainment.

In the 1960s, Korean film companies started congregating in Chungmuro, usually regarded as Seoul’s historic back alleyways. In response to the influx of aspirational actors, directors, and producers, the area saw a growth in cafes, restaurants, and diners, as well as camera stores, photo studios, and printing businesses. It eventually developed into the epicenter of the film community and the largest cinema complex at the time. Unfortunately, when more movie studios moved to Gangnam in the 1990s, Chungmuro’s fame declined. Nonetheless, it is still used today as a symbol and citation for the Korean film industry.

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The most interesting feature is that Chungmuro often draws comparisons to Hollywood (because of its impressive past) and continues to value the essence of Korean cinema. Chungmuro actors are revered in Korean showbiz as compared to several Hallyu stars, including Lee Min-ho, Kim Soo-hyun, Song Joong-ki, and Lee Jong-suk, who are reportedly still ineligible to be Chungmuro actors. Contrarily, Hwang Jung-min, Gong Yoo, Jang Hyuk, park Seo-joon, Yoo Ah-in, Ju Ji-hoon, Choi Woo-shik, Lee Je-hoon, Kang Ha-neul, Son Ye-jin, Han Hyo-joo, Kim Tae-ri, Kim Da-mi, Bae Doo-na, Park So-dam, Kim Go-eun, Park Bo-young and many more within the category of Chungmuro actors have gained accolades from the most prestigious Korean institutions. It should be noted that becoming a “Blue Chip of Chungmuro” actor indicates that the individual is a dependable and consistent asset in Korean cinema.

Based on my Korean professor’s anecdote, “Chungmuro was definitely the cradle of Korean films,” besides being “the origin of the printing business, a supply station for pets, and an unfettered shelter for bikers.” “In fact,” he added, “another employment sector had been Chungmuro, but also later, when Namsan Hanok Village, Namsan Tower, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukhansan National Park, and other sights gained steam, the area developed into an international tourist spot. It’s a bustling place now.”

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