Professor pushes stream projectWon Je-mu, 56, a professor at Hanyang University, has special memories of Cheonggye stream, which is currently undergoing restoration.
Born in Sindang-dong, Seoul, in 1949, Mr. Won swam in the stream in the summer when he was young, and in the winter he skated on the frozen stream and ate baked sweet potatoes that he bought near its banks.
“I still have vivid images of shacks along the banks,” Mr. Won said. “On one side, sewage was flowing while on the other side, women were doing laundry.”
When he was a young adult, he saw the stream covered over with concrete. Mr. Won felt that it was inevitable as the stream, as well as the surrounding area, was unsanitary and unsightly.
But after studying civil engineering at Hanyang University, Seoul National University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and touring more than 100 cities around the world, his ideas about the covered stream changed. He decided that the restoration of the stream was a mission to be carried out as soon as possible. Mr. Won took part in the movement to restore the stream, starting in 2000, and advised the Seoul city government on the project.
Now, he has also decided to make a donation to the restoration of about 10 million won ($9,900) from the proceeds of an exhibition of his paintings at Gwang Gallery at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, which will continue until March 16.
This is the first time the gallery has exhibited works by an “amateur” painter. Mr. Won became interested in painting when he was young and received formal training 10 years ago.
“The paintings are precious to me. Although I feel sorry about selling them, there is no other way to raise interest in the restoration project,” he said, adding that the public has donated only 40 million won to the project.
by Ko Jung-ae