Sunday, May 21, 2006

Seoul on a beautiful Sunday morning

Beautiful weather today. I walked from my apartment to E-dae station, just to show myself that I could. (Is the proper English spelling E-dae or I-dae? I guess it should properly be I-dae, but that looks weird. The Seoul city government resolves the problem by translating it into English in full: Ewha Woman's University. But nobody says the full name; people just say E-dae.)

I walked down the full length of the semi-famous E-dae Shopping Street, whose primary purpose is to provide stores for women to go shopping for wedding dresses and other wedding supplies. I made the interesting discovery that one end of this street is anchored by a small cluster of establishments that are obviously brothels. I don't know what conclusions to draw from that.

Downtown, Cheonggyecheon was as popular as ever on a beautiful Sunday morning. Cheonggyecheon was a stream that meandered through downtown Seoul once, before the pressures of development and industrialization resulted in it being covered with roads and an elevated highway. In the past couple of years the city government has torn down the elevated highway and uncovered the stream. The stream went dry years ago, so the city pumps in water; there is something slightly unnatural about a stream that can be turned off, but it makes for what is basically a very long, very narrow landscaped park that extends through the center of downtown Seoul. The Seoul city goverment has been promoting Cheonggyecheon as a symbol of modern Seoul urban renewal. Judging from many government posters I see in the subway, the next big project is the establishment of a forested area in Ttukseom, in eastern Seoul, around where Cheonggyecheon finally flows into the Han River. People say that this area is currently just saplings, but apparently the aim is to introduce a deer population within 10 years.

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