Save a District, Itaewon by Jiwan Lee ’21

Although South Korea’s extensive response to COVID-19 (such as contact tracing) has received praise from the world, it has also ruined businesses in the country. Contact tracing in South Korea has been very strict and thorough–all of the information accessible by the mass public. South Korean media also uses these public information to cover provocative stories of patients, stirring up strong criticism from the citizens towards the patients.

An area that has been greatly impacted by contact tracing and media-coverage is Itaewon, a district known for international fairs. A cluster infection in May was great for media coverage and the effects are still evident to this day; many small restaurants in the area have less than 3 tables of customers a day and are closing down. The aim of my Engaged Project was to help the restaurants by coming up with a practical business plan (cost reduction and sales increase) that will bring in more customers.

I conducted 10+ interviews with restaurant owners to understand the real problems they are going through. Then, I came up with several plans to help the restaurants in hopes to implement some of the plans.

Sponsor: Pamela Hong

Student reflection:

One thing that I realized about myself is that I am much more confident in person. My writing is not my strong suit, which made online consulting very difficult. I realized that should read a lot more and practice on delivering my thoughts more clearly.

Instructor Feedback:

This was an outstanding Engaged Project! You merged your academics (Econ, Data Analysis, and East Asian Studies) with your personal commitment to local community (Itaewon), you conducted primary and secondary research, and you produced a gorgeous final report that has potential to create real value for the business owners and residents in your neighborhood. And, although your project had fewer setbacks or pivots than many of the others, you nevertheless were able to identify the adjustments that you’d make next time you embark on a similar project, and you were able to reflect on your own work style. Your commitment, competence, and knack for communication are apparent in all of your work, and I look forward to seeing what you accomplish in the future!