Mayor Oh Se-hoon's new goal is a Waterside Emotional City
Outdoor cafes and a cultural complex will be created along the streams of Seoul as part of Mayor Oh Se-hoon's efforts to bring more people down to the water.
“Seoul is probably the only city in the world where more than 300 kilometers of water flows through the city, including small creeks, streams and a big river, along with being surrounded by Naesasan (inner mountains) and Oesasan (outer mountains),” Oh said in a press conference Thursday unveiling his Waterside Emotional City plan for the capital.
“But people say Seoul doesn’t make good use of its water and only focused on controlling the water flow to prevent floods,” Oh continued. “From now on, we will make good use of the water in order to revive Seoul's economy, create a space with a cultural and artistic atmosphere, and make it a city that raises daily life to a higher quality.”
In Oh's previous term as mayor from 2006 to 2011, one of his signature projects was the so-called Han River Renaissance that built riverside bike paths and the Sebitseom floating islands on the southern bank of the Han by Banpo Bridge. When he was reelected in 2021, he had a new project called the Jicheon (Stream) Renaissance, which aimed to convert Seoul's small streams into waterfront living spaces. Its name was changed to Waterside Emotional City on Thursday.
Seoul is designating four pilot sites for waterfront attractions under different themes: Dorimcheon in Gwanak District in southern Seoul, Jeongneungcheon in Dongdaemun District in eastern Seoul, the upper and lower parts of Hongjecheon in Jongno and Seodaemun District in northwestern Seoul. They will be completed and open to the public in the first half of next year.
The Dorimcheon stream, which flows by commercial districts such as Shinwon Market and Sundae (Korean-style stuffed sausage) Town, will be developed with waterfront terraces. Seoulites will be able to buy food from the markets and have picnics by the stream, reviving neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic.
An unattractive concrete parking lot partially covering Jeongneungcheon will be reborn as a cultural complex offering sports, leisure and media art.
The upper stream of Hongjecheon will be promoted as a tourist attraction focusing on its rock landscape and the district's historical properties such as Hongjimun Gate and Tangchundaeseong Fortress. In addition, the lower stream will have open-air cafes around the artificial waterfall in the middle of the stream, creating a European-like atmosphere, Oh said.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government will establish new urban planning guidelines to make the most out of waterfront spaces, and propose revisions to laws such as the River Act and the Building Act.
The city government also wants to improve the water quality in its streams.
The refurbishing of 35 streams in Seoul — improving odors, water quality, and decrepit facilities — will be completed by next year.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]