Saturday, August 22, 2009


For some reason I had thought I had already done a post of some sort on the Cheonggyecheon from when I had gone there in the winter a couple of years ago (they had it all lit up with lights). I guess I didn't, because now I cannot find it. :S

Spring, this sculpture at the Cheonggyecheon, was created by world-renouned artists Coosje Van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg. The idea for the exterior spiral was inspired from a shell rising upward like a pagoda. The vertical shape creates a dynamic atmosphere, representing the restored vitality of the stream and the cultural aspect of Seoul's urban development. Looking inside, two colorful ribbons, inspired from Korean traditional dress for women, stream loosely down, one a luminous blue, the other a peony red, representing the unity of opposites in nature an th human spirit.
Spring is the monument of the nature regenerated in Seoul and the symbol of the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project.
[from a plaque at the sculpture]

Also, the Korean national colors are blue and red. [pic from wikipedia]
The South Korean flag, or Taegukgi, has a blue and red yin-yang shape in the center, called a Taeguk. The Taeguk is also sometimes drawn with a yellow part added. In an older flag, the Taeguk was even more swirled, sort of like a snail shell. The Cheonggyecheon (청계천) or Cheonggye Stream is right down town Seoul, not far from City Hall. It is about 6 km long and is a natural stream that for many years (since the 1960s) was covered by a road and then an elevated expressway. Then, Lee MyungBak (currently the President of South Korea) became the mayor of Seoul and decided that the stream should be uncovered. It was a HUGE project that so many were opposed to, but it went on. The stream was finally finished in 2005 and since then, has been very popular in all seasons. In the winter, they have Christmas lights up and in the summer, people go and sit along the sides and children sometimes play in the water. The stream definitely doesn't have a natural look but it is very nice. Parades now end along the Cheonggyecheon. I remember last year after the St.Patrick's Day parade, they even turned the water green!!!! Not sure what they used to do that. I hope it was environmentally friendly! There ARE fish in the water (though not sure where they come from. The original stream source has mostly dried up or disappeared because of the city (the stream 'starts' at the Cheonggyecheon Plaza - up to that point, it is still all underground) so most of the water is actually pumped in from the subway systems and from the Han River (filtered, of course, to make it cleaner). So, after checking out Deoksugung and the City Hall (on July 22nd, during my summer vacation), I walked up to the Cheonggyecheon. It's a great place for a little walk or to sit and enjoy nice weather. At one point along, there were people all the way along the sides, dangling their feet in, listening to a street performer playing guitar and singing to one side. There were families and couples, groups of friends and several individuals as well. They mostly stayed along a line, sort of being tumbled sideways trying to stay.

Kinda cool watching them.Mojeongyo, the first of the 22 bridges that cross the Cheonggyecheon. Mojeongyo was originally the bridge of a fruit market street. The first section of the Cheonggyecheon, up to this bridge, is a special part called Palseokdam, which was built using stones from tiger eye stones found in all 8 provinces. In this section, the sides are built up an there are steps down to the water and walkways IN the water so people can walk in the water. All of the bridges along the Cheonggyecheon apparently have a story behind them. They were all destroyed when the stream was covered and have been re-built.[looking on down stream][looking back towards the start]
I walked quite a ways down the stream, stopping every now and again to watch the water, the fish, and the people (I love watching people watching!!). Then I crossed over and headed back again. I went to the Kyobo Bookstore, the largest book store in Seoul, which is in the basement of the Kyobo building just north of City Hall. Almost all of the bookstores in Seoul are huge. And I have a membership card for each of the large bookstore companies. No wonder my wallet is so thick!!! All of the large bookstores have at least a small English section. The Kyobo's is a bit bigger than some of the others. The best book store for English books in Seoul, though, is What The Book, in Itaewon. If they don't have it, they'll get it (they have stock in Seoul and in the US). They have a great website as well, and provide free delivery on purchases over 25,000won. Not bad. I must say that bookstores are an evil invention. I can't help but buy books and stationery (the bookstores here have huge sections with pens, stationery and office supplies) when ever I go. One might say I shouldn't go then unless I really need books or stationery, but alas, I can't keep myself from going. It's like some sort of magnetic force. I am drawn to them!! Books make me happy!! :)

1 comment:

Noblese said...

Very nice pictures and blog too! I always wanted to visit Korea.