In the past, a university campus in Korea stood for a secluded place for studying and students’ welfare. To support college students who usually had financial difficulties, students’ cooperative associations ran the facilities in the campus, thus, the restaurants or stores in the campus used to be cheaper than other facilities outside. A cheap university dining hall with humble interior was a part of campus life in our memory.
Nowadays, those scenes are changing. Many institutions constructed fancy towers or malls on campus and started to rent the places to merchants like outside shopping malls. They make profit with the land costs which increased dramatically for decades, since most of Korean universities are located in the city center. As a result, we cannot see a humble dining hall any more on campus, there are fancy restaurants, cafes, and stores instead. Students protested a lot because institutions demolished symbolic structures at the main gate to construct their new commercial facilities.
For example, Ewha Woman’s University demolished the old stone bridge at the main gate and Pusan National University demolished its old clock tower. I understand that institutions need source of income to run their programs, and commercialization might be the solution of this time. However for me, as a graduate from Ewha Woman’s University, I still feel sad when I visit the main gate of the school. The new facility is nice-looking and a great building, but, I cannot see the trace of the old stone bridge any more.
Ewha Bridge (Ewha Woman’s University) New ECC mall (Ewha Woman’s University)
Old Clock Tower (Pusan National University) New main entrance (Pusan National University)