'Seoul Park' Marks French-Korean Friendship

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'Seoul Park' Marks French-Korean Friendship

"We can't expect to build a thoroughly traditional Korean garden in the middle of Paris all of a sudden and expect people to like it," said Oh Woong-sung, 40, director of environmental design for the Samsung Everland amusement park. "Instead we have to let Korean things integrate into a foreign culture."

Last July, Mr. Oh won the contract to design and build "Seoul Park" in Bolougne Woods in Paris, France.

Seoul Park, 4,260 square meters, will be built as a token of friendship between Seoul and Paris to commemorate the new millennium.

The two parties have already agreed on various points, including the scale of the park, its administration and technology.

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place next spring and the project is expected to be finished within the year.
"Some pointed out the prospective park lacked strong emphasis for Korean culture like native trees," Mr. Oh said. "But we must first bear in mind that ordinary families will visit the park."

Mr. Oh is enthusiastic about the "Garden of Revelation." The park building will be built within a hill and given a half basement viewed from the inside.

A periscope will be installed to allow visitors to enjoy outer garden while others view the various displays indoors.

He explained this kind of unique design will be attractive to children, thus making it a true family park.

Mr. Oh, who graduated from the Landscape and Architecture Department at Sungkyunkwan University, is one of the first generation to be educated professionally in the subject.

"I wasn't planning on it," he said. "I kept skipping classes in high school and somehow that's where I ended up."

He confessed he had no idea what landscape architecture meant in the beginning.

He entered the Graduate School of Environmental Studies at Seoul National University. He then studied at France's National University of Social Science and the National School for Sculpture in Versailles.

"A true landscape architect must have feelings for every little thing that make up the surroundings, even a mere flower standing next to a railroad track," Mr. Oh said.
"Just like the subtle change of voice on a radio, a landscape architect must recognize the same kind of subtle changes in the environment and know how to adapt the changes into one's work."

He said a family park must make people feel at ease and feel free to visit any time.

A park for the people -- that was Mr. Oh's main theme. The Pundang Central Park, built in 1989, best reflects Mr. Oh's point. By doing his best to save the original hill, he attracted many people, who looked for the familiar environment.

Mr. Oh has many plans. These include setting up venture companies and establishing theme parks -- the main aim being a focus on the environment.

"We have the construction skills," Mr. Oh said. "For my part, it is my duty to provide an environment-friendly space and at the same time a familiar, comfortable space for all to visit."

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