March 3, 2020
Cheonggyecheon is an 8.4 km (5.2 mi) long stream that runs through downtown Seoul. Cheonggyecheon is the restoration of the stream that was once there before during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The stream was covered with an elevated highway after the Korean War (1950-1953), as part of the country’s post-war economic development. Then in 2003, the elevated highway was removed to restore the stream to its present form today. The stream starts from Cheonggye Plaza, a popular cultural arts venue, and passes under a total of 22 bridges before flowing into the Hangang (River), with many attractions along its length. Cr. Seoul.net edited by Fan 13
The stream was named Gaecheon (“open stream”) after the first refurbishment project to construct a drainage system during the Joseon Dynasty. The work, which included dredging and bolstering the banks of the stream and building the bridges, was carried out every 2-3 years during this period from the reign of Taejong, the third king of the Joseon Dynasty. King Yeonjo (This is the king that Jung Il woo portrayed in Haechi!). especially undertook the refurbishment work as a national project.
Gacheon was renamed to Cheonggyecheon, its current name, during the Korea under Japanese rule. During this time, financial difficulties disrupted and prevented the Imperial Japanese forces from covering up the stream despite several attempts to do so.
After the Korean War (1950–1953), more people migrated into Seoul to make their living and settled down along the stream in shabby makeshift houses. The accompanying trash, sand, and waste, and deteriorating conditions resulted in an eyesore for the city. The stream was covered up with concrete over 20 years starting in 1958, and a 5.6 km-long (3.5 mi), 16 m-wide (52 ft) elevated highway was completed in 1976. The area became an example of successful industrialization and modernization of South Korea. Cr. Wikipedia
This is what the stream looked like in 1904.
I found a Koreana Magazine video of when the stream was going to be remodeled. You can read a lot of interesting facts about its history there too. It’s right HERE.
Budgeted at 349 billion won, the final cost of the project was over 386 billion won (approximately US$281 million).
Creating an environment with clean water and natural habitats was the most significant achievement of the project. Species of fish, birds, and insects have increased significantly as a result of the stream excavation. The stream helps to cool down the temperature on the nearby areas by 3.6 °C on average versus other parts of Seoul. The number of vehicles entering downtown Seoul has decreased by 2.3%, with an increasing number of users of buses (by 1.4%) and subways (by 4.3%: a daily average of 430,000 people) as a result of the demolition of the two heavily used roads. This has a positive influence by improving the atmospheric environment in the region. Cr. Wikipedia
According to the Seoul travel guide Lonely Planet, the water that now flows for 5.8 KM is pumped from somewhere else making environmentalist very unhappy.
I walked a long time under this stream, I exited it briefly to see Tapgol Park and then kept walking until about 4 blocks before Gwangjang Market. I then visited this market and ate a Mung bean pancake or “Bindae-tteok.” I basically covered about half of it. Here is a map:
This one says the attractions along the stream:
This image came from HERE.
Jung Il woo had his picture taken at the Cheonggyecheon stream! Do you want to see him? Cr. DCIlwoo
Sadly I never got to where he took this photos. I was too tired! I walked the first half and I will do the second half someday and stand right there! Where is this? I’ll tell you… it’s between Beodeuldari and Ogansugyo bridges. It’s called the Wall of Culture. It’s still pretty much the same judging from photos in the internet except for temporary exhibits they display on the walls.
These are my photos:
Cheonggye Plaza. This plaza was created to commemorate the restoration of the Cheonggyecheon Stream. At its center is a tall sculpture shaped like a shell. It was created by Dutch artist Coosje Van Bruggen and Swedish artist Claes Oldenburg.
The colorful ribbons that stream down the side are inspired by the traditional dress of Korean women. The colors of blue and red represent the unity of opposites in nature and human spirit. The shape was inspired by a shell rising up like a pagoda.
Notice the fish in the stream!
This is Mojeongyo Bridge (모전교):
The bridge you will see in the next photos is the Gwangtonggyo (광통교). Some of the stones on the bridge are from the 1400’s!
This modern orange bridge is Gwanggyo (광교):
The beautiful building above is the Samsung Jongno Tower.
Between the Samilgyo bridge and Jangtonggyo bridge there is a huge mural made up of tiles. It is based on the Banchado or painting, of King Jeongjo. It is the largest tile painting in the world and depicts King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty, leading a royal procession to visit the tomb of his father at Hwaseong (Suwon) in 1785, escorted by his mother Hyegyeonggung Hong. The original painting (or Banchado), created by famous artists in the Joseon era, is 63 pages long in total. It is made up of 5,120 individual ceramic tiles, each one 30cm square and 2.4cm thick.
I thought the king would be in there, but it was actually his mother! You know who king Jeongjo is right? Yes, he is the character portrayed by Jung Il woo in Haechi! Shall we see his version of the king?
With all due respect, if that king saw Ilwoo he would wish he could be that handsome and kind. Well now back to the beautiful Cheonggyecheon Stream…
- Samilgyo (Samil Bridge)
This bridge was named in commemoration of the Samil Movement, or the March 1st Movement, one of the earliest public displays of Korean resistance during the Japanese occupation of the Korea.
I really enjoyed sitting under it, it had these beautiful murals… and one could dip one’s feet in the water. It felt so good!
- I made the following video capturing the flying of red dragonflies. They are so beautiful!
And with this video I end the first half of the Cheonggyecheon Stream! Someday I will go back to Seoul and add the second half. It seems like it will be a while! One thing is for sure, I will travel during the summer! Good thing that’s when I have my biggest school vacation!