Korean celebrities are known to prefer Seoul’s top three Gangnam districts ― Apgujeong-dong, Cheongdam-dong and Samseong-dong ― as their home. From top left, clockwise: Actress Jeon Do-yeon’s Cheongdam-dong villa, featuring five bedrooms and three bathrooms; Samseong-dong I-Park, home to newlyweds Kwon Sang-woo and Son Tae-young; the luxurious interior of entertainer Kang Ho-dong’s Apgujeong-dong apartment; and Traum Haus, a posh villa in Seocho-dong, which was once hearthrob Jang Dong-kun’s home.
By Jane Han
Ever wonder where mega-watt celebrities unwind at the end of their glamorous days? Home ― just like any other ordinary person ― but what they call home is anything but ordinary.
The limited area in downtown Seoul may not allow Korean stars to dwell in huge Hollywood-esque mansions that span out for acres, but the celebs are still rich enough to own the crowded capital's best and most expensive street addresses.
Former wrestling champion and popular television host Kang Ho-dong, for example, lives in a fully remodeled 280-square-meter apartment in one of the most posh districts in Seoul, featuring three bedrooms and three bathrooms.
The Apgujeong-dong property is currently worth 3.5 billion won ($2.9 million), according to local real estate agents.
Down the street from Kang's house is another luxury district, Chungdam-dong, where dozens of singers and movie stars reside.
Singer, artist and writer Cho Young-nam's massive 618-square-meter villa has long been famous as one of the country's unbeatable star homes.
The Sangji Ritzville, a top villa brand, overlooking the Han River and the Youngdong Bridge from the southern side, was most recently officially listed at some 4 billion won, but realtors say the property is actually worth more than 6 billion won.
"Buyers are lucky if they even see a unit up for sale," said an area property agent, who labels the luxury building as one of the most exclusive homes, rarely coming out on the market.
Another top-flight villa in Chungdam-dong is where top actress Jeon Do-yeon calls home, just minutes away from Cho's residence.
The almost 300-square-meter uber-luxury villa, which offers only six units, is known to ensure its residents with the best security system.
Most recently listed for 3 billion won, the villa is home to some of the country's top businessmen and politicians, according to realtors.
Some of Jeon's Chungdam-dong neighbors include actresses Kim Hee-sun, Ko Hyun-jung and Ko So-young, and actors Kim Min-jong and Hwang Jung-min.
The third town, which completes the so-called celebrity Gangnam belt, is Samsung-dong.
The southern Seoul district recently got a status upgrade when celebrity couple Kwon Sang-woo and Son Tae-young was revealed to be living in I-Park, the most expensive property in South Korea, according to 2008 government data.
A 195-square-meter apartment was purchased for 5.7 billion won by an unknown buyer last year, making the high-rise home the most expensive apartment in town.
Although the newlywed couple makes top money, Kwon and Son are reportedly living in a rented unit costing at least 1.3 billion won in "jeonse" ― a lump sum, long-term deposit on a rental space.
"The price shows that this is no ordinary rented property," says a broker who specializes in I-Park.
He explained that it is being increasingly sought by celebrities because of its top security standards and privacy.
Actresses Jeon Ji-hyun and Lee Mi-yeon, and actor Son Chang-min are among some of the well-known star residents of I-Park, he said.
Besides the Gangnam areas, Bangbae-dong, Seocho-dong, Hannam-dong and Ichon-dong have traditionally been popular residential districts among local celebrities. But the fast-emerging favorite pick is Banpo ― more specifically, the newly built Banpo Xi apartments.
The state-of-the-art complex, which includes a fitness center and spa, is home to heartthrobs Song Seung-heon and So Ji-sub, and dozens of other middle-aged celebrities, according to real estate agents.
"The influx of celebrity neighbors boosted the apartment's promotion," said a realtor, who explained, however, that many residents don't enjoy having a star neighbor. "They don't want their privacy getting interrupted by fans."