Friday, March 02, 2007

If You Build It, They Might Not Come

South Korea’s Main Chinatown Lacks Only the Chinese
INCHON, South Korea — All was quiet in South Korea’s nonbustling Chinatown on a recent weekday. The lunchtime trickle was over, leaving the streets as deserted as they had been in the morning. The shiny arches, red lanterns and towering “Welcome to Chinatown” sign, meant to impress visitors, seemed instead to magnify the neighborhood’s inactivity.

Hoping to lure Chinese investors and some of the ever-growing number of Chinese tourists, the local government in Inchon, just west of Seoul, four years ago transformed a tiny dilapidated Chinese neighborhood into the country’s first Chinatown.

In no time, officials in half a dozen other cities across the country announced plans to build their own Chinatowns, but none have progressed very far because of a host of obstacles ranging from a lack of capital to, well, a shortage of Chinese residents.


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