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Retro Seoul: The city from 1950 to today

From 80-year old barbershops to vintage clothing stores in Dongmyo, Korea from the '50s onwards is all here and alive in Seoul.

Look anywhere in Seoul and you’ll see the retro trend in full swing, from music to fashion, subway ads to signboards. Old-typography is everywhere, and music videos are full of references to classic K-pop of generations past. Sometimes it misses the mark, but sometimes it’s the perfect combination of old and new (IU’s collab with Kim Chang-wan last year? Nailed it). It’s only natural that we stop to take a look back—after all, Korea has come so far and changed so much in the last 60 years.

So why those decades, and why now? Maybe it's because they're so recent but so different, and because they hearken back to a simpler time. During this fall holiday season of Chuseok, when the entire family gets together in one room, you start to feel the layers of time collecting in one place. Those years from the ‘50s up through the ‘90s are special because they’re part of Korea’s living memory—however distant they may seem, these years can still be remembered by our parents and grandparents.

Now is the perfect time for a little break from the present—it's our chance to put on some rose-tinted glasses and indulge in a little retro-tourism through old Seoul.

The ‘50s and ‘60s in Seoul

The 1950s and ‘60s weren’t an easy time—after the war, people were hustling and working hard. “Can do” was the Saemaeul development project slogan, and people lived it. It was time to work hard and play hard, with the opening of dance halls, dabangs and drinking establishments.

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By: Hahna Yoon

Reply 1990

The golden era of video rental stores, secondhand bookstores and record stores

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By: Hye Won Kim

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