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Hi! Green Seoul
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[0호] 승인 2004.09.09  
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Last July, as soon as Lee, Myeong-bak took office as Mayor of Seoul, he endeavored to do the greatest public pledge, that is, ‘Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project(hear after CRP)’. He has established its headquarters, supporting the relevant research and propelling citizen’s committee to make a decision on it.

It took a year to complete a blueprint of CRP. And construction along down Cheonggyecheon is supposed to begin next month, by the time he will have been inaugurated as a mayor for a year.

CRP is part of public work: they will extend afforestation in the living area up to a million pyeong, making Green Seoul, which is one of the twenty ‘four-year plans’. There are lots of mountains in Seoul, but afforestation in the living area extremely lacks now.

First, green areas in the parks of Seoul are 157§´ - solely 26% of the whole dimension - besides, over 76% of the parks are preponderated in the suburbs. This outcome has not even reached the minimum 9.0§³ which FAO(Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) recommends as an average.

Second, green areas are distributed in imbalance. Last, green axises are not connected due to developing local areas and building roads - from Changkyeong Palace to Jongmyo, in Sewun shopping area, and around Nambu Expressway. Therefore Seoul Metropolitan Government has set a goal that park area per person 4.51§³ should increase to 4.92§³ by 2006.

By guaranteeing sufficient green areas in new parks of the problematic region the sizes of greenish areas between districts can be equalized, so we can recover our ecosystem.

Under this goal, the green axis from Changkyeong Palace to Jongmyo will be linked and Cheonggyecheon restoration will be finished by 2006 and 20 parks will be finally made by way of a park in each dong with multi-functions in the thick house area.

In addition Ddukseom of 350,000 pyeong at the northeast where green areas are in short will be replaced by large-scale green parks and afforestations on the top of buildings. This rooftop is 55 million pyeong in Seoul and Seoul Metropolitan Government will support 50% of remodeling expenses. Then, is the plan of Seoul Metropolitan Government on the green space well recognized and supported?

Let’s look into citizens’ opinions about Cheonggyecheon restoration. A recent survey shows that 7 of 10 approved of the plan which majority of citizens are concerned about environmental problems such as pollution, they understood a necessity of green zone.

What does Cheonggyecheon mean to Korea? The original name of Cheonggyecheon is Gaecheon, meaning an open ditch. And it is initiated from Inwangsan in the northwest of Seoul, through the south edge of Bugaksan, and to the north foot of Namsan. It is an urban stream flowing from west to east covering the center of Seoul.

Its total length spans 10.92km. Along down Cheonggyecheon, there used to be nine bridges, small or big, like as Gwanggyo, Supyogyo, Ogansumun and so forth. Around the bridges it took place amusing events: flying a kite, lotus lantern festival and so on. And Cheonggyecheon involved joys and sorrows of life: a life zone to common people, a wash place to women, and a bath site for children.

However under the increment of citizens and frequent disasters since Chosun Dynasty, its existence was meaning. It was covered by roads and an expressway, which became a symbol of modernization after 1960s. What is the main content of Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project?

Construction for the restoration of Cheonggyecheon will start in July, 2003 and will have been completed by December, 2005. The Construction section is up from Donga Ilbo to Shindap Iron Bridge as long as about 5.84km. It is planned to cope with rainfall of 118mm per hour to prevent flood.

All sewage will be purified in the center drains, where foul water is gathered through the special pipes. There will be twenty one bridges, with nature of history, art, moulding, and function, and the watersides’ rooms will be diversely created.

A station building will offer 22,000 tons of underground water to Cheonggyecheon, and a dry stream, highly purified water of the center drains, and 71,700 tons of water from Han River will be provided, too. This may give 93,700 tons of water flowing in Cheonggyecheon everyday.

Why should Cheonggyecheon be restored in spite of neighboring merchants’ objection? First, it is a matter of safety. The expressway and roads covering Cheonggyecheon, whose construction was completed in 1958, immediately require repairs according to the safety inspection, which was intended to prevent another accident after the Seongsudaegyo collaps in 1994. Cheonggyecheon restoration is to fundamentally resolve the problems with the expressway and roads instead of temporary repairs.

Second, it is related to an environmental problem. Cheonggyecheon restoration will provide citizens with a clear river and a relaxation place as natural water flows with sunshine and clear air and moreover, an ecological park is developed around it.

Third, it is associated with cultural value. Seoul has lost many relics. So, if the project succeeds, it will restore our cultural remains around Cheonggyecheon such as Gwanggyo and Supyogyo, and get back traditional cultures like Supyogyo tread and lotus lantern festival.

It can reestablish Seoul’s history and cultural identity and use Cheonggyecheon as representative cultural tour resource in Seoul through connecting the cultural space with cultural relics inside 4 great gates.

Finally, it is a matter of industry. It can lead to the reformation of the industrial structure around the underdeveloped Cheonggyecheon area and activate the depressed downtown economy sustained for 50 years since Korea’s independence.

What are the effects on the construction? The Cheonggyecheon restoration is significant in recovering the historical and cultural environment and making a more balanced Seoul between Gangbuk and Gangnam. Restoration will enable the citizens to enjoy the scenery, take a rest, and do the shopping there.

Children can swim at the riverside. And we can expect another great beauty spot in Seoul with connection to the historic relics like the ancient palace, Jongno, Dongdaemun fashion mall and Euljiro. 600-year-history of Seoul has been disconnected on account of the disappearance of the water axis which was well fitted with Bukaksan and Namsan.

By restoring the covering area in Cheonggyecheon, the historic relics such as Chosun Dynasty’s stone bridges, including Gwanggyo and Supyogyo, would be recovered to their original conditions.

And the reborn water axis in the downtown would make up a beautiful riverside. Moreover, this plan can solve some environmental problems such as air pollution caused by the harmful gas and can get rid of the possibility of a terrible accident on the superannuated Cheonggye Expressway.

Seoul can take an opportunity to develop itself to be a new economic center as a key position for international finance, culture, fashion and tour industries. According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the total cost of Cheonggyecheon restoration construction is estimated to be about 360 billion won.

This budget will be spent in order to dismantle the Cheonggye Expressway and roads and to make the Cheonggyecheon clear with forming a dense forest around it. Considering the enormous repair and reinforcement cost being put into the Cheonggye Expressway, covering roads and underground space on an annual basis, the charge of citizens will be cut down and the convenience of them will be extended in the long view.

A stepping stone to Green Seoul - Cheonggaecheon The Cheonggaecheon Restoration Project has a potent influence on the center of Seoul. It should reduce the chances of trial and error by investigating many cases of other countries because the construction extends over a long time. Let’s look at a case and look out for things which we need to reflect.

Curitiba, the city of Brazil, is an ecological city with philosophy and hope. There are a lot of lessons to learn. For example, we can learn about how to build an ecological city. This is directly related to our Cheonggaecheon restoration. Population of Curitiba is growing rapidly from 18,000 in 1950s to 1,600,000 people now.

With that, all problems of megalopolis in a developing country such as living space shortage, heavy traffic, narrow roads, imperfect social overhead facilities, poor education, poverty, unemployment, crimes, environmental destructions and deterioration of the living quality.

Curitiba overcame its limitation of low budget originality and did not simply imitate other advanced countries’ examples. While most other cities concentrated on subway construction which required a vast budget, they focused on cylindrical bending buses which are subways on the ground.

They did flood control by making a reservoir, lake, swamp and ensured rest parks to citizens at the same time when all other countries built a dike in preparation for flood. Also, they performed recycling transforming an ammunition depot into a playhouse and a muck place into Opera house.

They made a living city based on low budget, simple economy, and positive recycling mind rather than on a big business which requires much more budget. This unique philosophy of the city development policies in Brazil received high praise out of the world.

This city of Brazil showed their ability as well as their creative mind so that they did not exactly imitate the ways of other advanced countries did. However, Curitiba did not achieve these conditions from the beginning. The cityward population of Curitiba also made the river into roads, wet lands and valleys were filled up by the residential areas.

Likewise the winding river became straight and its banks on the both sides grew higher and higher. This river gave rise in flood every year. It continued a vicious circle. They realized that it is rash and anti-environmental to get rid of the influx of sand by dredging and keep the bank higher to prevent overflowing.

So, they converted the riverside into a park and made strict law about the land usage. Besides they banned the roads and the buildings which might cause flood. They reserved the river and its riverside and made lakes and swamps, to regulate flood when overflowing happens.

The lake and swamp became a park, which gave back to the citizens. It was an epoch-making policy that kills two birds with one stone. Compared with our present situation, also Cheongaecheon has been changed into roads and the riverside of Han River has been covered with cement, but now we are trying to make an ecological city, keeping in mind pursuing the eco-friendly environment.

Green Seoul, Ecological city Ecological city is an upcoming topic of 21st century extracting substantiality of city from an increase in population, industrialization and urbanization threatened the lives of citizens all over the world.

Therefore, every country in the world pours their energy in making an ecological city. Let’s try to find our own ways to make a green city for the future by looking around how the world popular ecological city was made. Since UNCED(United Nations Conference on Environmental and Development;

another name is Rio conference), which was held to discuss the problems about the earth environmental preservation at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. There has been a concept of Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development(ESSD), newly prompted in the field of city development, city planning, environmental planning under reconsideration of our descendants and also enjoying our human life in beautiful nature as harmonizing the development and the preservation of our environment. This represents a green city, an environmental city, an ecological city, environment fellowship city, environmentally sound and sustainable city, eco-city and eco-polis.

Ecological city can be divided biologically into an eco-city promoted living thing’s diversity, a naturally circulated eco-city, and an environmentally sound and sustainable city pursued by environmentally sound and sustainable developments.

There are several cities-such as Davis, California in USA and Setagaya in Japan-embossed with an ecological city. ¡á City, truly want to live - Davis in USA This city is located in about one-hour driving distance toward northeast from San francisco in America.

In early of the 1970s, before the case of oil shock, Davis set up and promoted a variety of environmental policies, for example, environmental fellowship city planning. The symbol of this city is bicycle. About 60km of 161km city roads are bicycle driveway.

And they induced the bicycle traffic police because of 40 thousand bicycles possessed by its citizens. Together with ‘Greenbelt project’, promoted by the government since 1991, the green network at the downtown constructed the bicycle road and shops in the green zone. Today there is a main reason that Davis is the one of main ecological cities in the international society.

It has 15 communities consisting of volunteers that cannot be easily found in other cities. They hold real power and are permitted to participate in planning the rules for their community and determining on its ordinance. ¡á Making town by the residents - Setagaya in Japan Setagaya is one of Tokyo’s 23 districts, located in the southwest of Japan. There are places here and there made by residents’ proposal.

Also, we can find some places that the residents constructed with their own efforts such as a yoga place in a sculpture park, a pouch park - a park which utilizes open space - a bus stop, a telegraph pole, a toilet, a public phone booth and a ‘vine walk’ in a vine place. It is no wonder how the residents willingly manage the aftercare of them. For last 26 years, there has been thousands of businesses achieved by the resident’s proposals.

Now they have established formalities passed by the agreement of residents’ council when they want to propose something for their district. It is the city, Setagaya, that not only the policy board, but also residents take care of their town by themselves.

We can acutely aware of the importance of the Cheonggaecheon restoration by looking into the examples of other countries and the case of Curitiba. We should change our city into an ecological one with environment-friendly policies and with which Curitiba made it, carrying out the plan. For example, a park in Curitiba has a theme.

For a desirable eco-city, instead of a fixed master plan we should seek stepped plans with the mind that we can accomplish them through trial and error, and we also should consider the interaction with other neighboring cities as an organic relationship.

Also, we should include plans of other fields that effect the management of the environmental pollution, which lead to a way of operation partly after considering environmental aspect along with natural and social condition of relevant place after considering its characteristics.

And to resuscitate Green Seoul, the public officials should not solve problems by the plans and decisions of their own. They have to lead a solution with their citizens, and listen to others’ advices all the time.

Because it is of no use to make a plan without the support from the citizens. Citizens’ voluntary work is essential. When we plan to construct a green place, citizens are more responsible for it than the government. You can join the city restoration plan by participating in a public subscription contest about Cheonggaecheon development plot or by proposing a nice method to Cheoonggaecheon restoration’s homepage


That will be a good chance to exercise the right as a citizen positively. Not only in Cheonggaecheon but in all over Seoul we can feel nature. Maybe this is what we are really eager to have. In about five or ten years, we may live in a clean city rather than the misty one.
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