News / Asia

South Korea Rolls Out Nationwide Address Change to Mixed Reviews

Koreans go about their business in central Seoul, South Korea, December 19, 2010.
Koreans go about their business in central Seoul, South Korea, December 19, 2010.
Jason Strother

The South Korean government is trying to make giving directions a little easier.

Small blue placards featuring new addresses have been hung up on every building around the country.

They are replacing an older address system some say was not very helpful without a map.  But public reaction so far has been mixed to the new building numbers. Some in Korea say the change means a loss of cultural heritage.

Taxi driver Hong Jae-do punches an address into his dashboard-mounted GPS navigator. He has been a cabbie for about four years and says his job would be really hard without this device.

Hong says he relies on his GPS whenever he cannot find an address. Without it, he said he would have a really tough time, especially when he has to travel outside of Seoul.

Japanese model

One reason blamed for the difficulty in navigating is Korea’s address system. It is modeled on the Japanese system, which assigns addresses chronologically instead of geographically. In other words, buildings are numbered according to when they were built - not according to where they are located on a street.

But this complex system soon will be a thing of the past.

A TV commercial introduces viewers to Korea’s new address system, which the government here says will make it easier and quicker to order out food, send packages and get help in case of an emergency.

The new system is more Western-style, using only a building’s number, street and city.

Dual usage of the old and new system will be permitted until December 2013. That is when the Japanese-style addresses will be officially abandoned.  

Buddhist opposition

But not everyone is excited about the new system. And, some of the strongest opposition comes from Buddhists.

Monks at Seoul’s Jogye Temple petitioned the government to hold off on using the new system.

Monk To-gyoung explained why his order opposes some of the addresses. He said there are areas and roads that are closely related to Buddhism. He said the monks are protesting because the names of these places are disappearing with the new address system, and they feel they are losing their heritage.  

He said the monks do not oppose the new address system in general. They are only asking the government to not change the names of the roads that have a Buddhist connection.

Hopeful business owners

Officials of the South Korean Ministry of Public Administration and Security, the government body in charge of the new addresses, declined to be interviewed. But a spokeswoman said that the ministry is still working out the problems of implementing the new system.

Some business owners say the new building numbers could bring in more customers.

Yeon-il is the 70-year-old owner of a tea house located on a small alley in one of Seoul’s busy tourist neighborhoods. She is glad to see the old system go, she says, but is not getting her hopes up yet about the new street addresses.  

She also says because of the way the old address system works, people do have a tough time finding her shop; sometimes, they walk right by it. But she says she is not so sure if the new system will make things any easier because there are so many small alleys in this neighborhood and all around the country. People need to be given clear directions, she says, and look for landmarks to know where to go.

Yeon-il points out that if people could not find what they were looking for under the old system, they still probably will not be able to find it now, no matter what numbers appear by the front door.






You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid