In yet another display of the city's commitment to 24-hour culture, Seoul is unveiling its biggest nighttime attraction yet in the neon-studded, wildly trendy shopping district of Dongdaemun.
Designed by Iraqi-British Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid, and completed at a cost of $451 million, the new Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) opens to the public March 21.
Commissioned by the Seoul metropolitan government, the plaza features futuristic, spaceship-like curves characteristic of Hadid's previous work -- she's also the woman behind the radical design of the national stadium set for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
DDP will host concerts, conventions and other major events throughout the year.
But the first order of business for Seoul's newest landmark and multipurpose cultural center is to kick off 2014 F/W Seoul Fashion Week. Running through March 26, Seoul Fashion Week will feature 81 fashion shows by South Korean designers, as well as Blueprint, a trade show from Singapore's Fashion Week.
The new building and its adjacent park replace an outdated stadium that had long been an eyesore in an increasingly trendy neighborhood.
With most malls in the area open until 5 a.m. (some are open 24 hours), Dongdaemun ("East Gate") is usually flooded with shoppers, especially at night.
The new plaza will be open 24 hours.
Architecture and exhibitions
Construction on the 85,000-square-meter structure began in 2007 and was completed in 2013.
Exhibition spaces are spread over four floors and three underground levels.
The building also houses a museum, a design lab and an art hall.
National treasures and paintings, along with a design exhibition of Zaha Hadid's works, will be shown in eight different exhibitions on site.
In honor of the grand opening, admission to all exhibitions except the Gansong Arts Collection Exhibition will be free until the end of March.
Seoul Fashion Week operates separately from the eight exhibitions.
Beginning April 1, the admission fee to see all exhibitions will be ₩8,000 ($7).