Seoul / Restoring the aquatic ecosystem in Seoul: possibility in revitalizing the upstream
The environmental sustainability of the Cheonggyecheon restoration project has been questioned with its upstream still under coverage as sewer. Originally, Baekundongcheon and Junghakcheon were the main tributaries that flew from mountain ridges of Bukhansan, Inwangsan and Bugakshan into Cheonggyecheon at the confluence point at the Cheonggye Plaza nowadays.
Two tributaries flowing into Cheonggyecheon in the past (Stephanie MOT, 2009)
Seeing the success of Cheonggyecheon, there have been long term plans in restoring the Baekundongcheon and Junghakcheon, yet it was not implemented due to the difficulty in clearing the dense urban fabric along the diagonal axis that the streams ran through. It is also speculated that the river restoration projects are delayed due to the changing terms of mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government as Lee Myung-bak entered presidency before the projects could start.
However, uncovering river has become the new urban planning paradigm in Seoul with several other waterway projects going on. Work has been done to uncover the 1.5 km Seongbukcheon that originates from Bukhansan (Bukhan Mountain) and flows from Donam-dong into the Cheonggyecheon. Hiking paths and stepping-stone bridges have been established across the river to make the place a leisure gathering space and a chance to learn about nature for people.
The restored Seongbukcheon in Seongbuk-gu, 2013 (Leisure Information Network, 2013)
The Jeongneungcheon that is also in Seongbuk-gu was restored in 2011 as a natural river. It was also a tributary originated from Jeongneung Valley of Bukhan-san to merge into Cheonggyecheon. The restored Seongbukcheon and Jeongneungcheon both flow into Cheonggyecheon now at the points near Dumuldari, a bridge named with the meaning of “two streams joining”. The series of river restoration projects show possibility for the restoration of upstream of Cheonggyecheon to make the river an actual natural river.
Confluence points of Seongbukcheon and Jeongneungcheon into Cheonggyecheon (Google Map, 2015)
1. Dunbar, J. 2012. Seoul 2063: ten predictions of the future. Accessed 21 December from The Korea Blog, http://blog.korea.net/?p=14012
2. Jang, S. N. 2009. Heritage Authenicity and Monumentalization for Political Power – A Case Study of the Cheonggyecheon restoration Project in Seoul, Korea. Accessed on 21 December 2015 from http://www.thapra.lib.su.ac.th/objects/thesis/fulltext/thapra/Jang%20Suh_Noh/Fulltext.pdf
3. Leisure Information Network. 2013. Seongbuk-gu Community Profile Book. Accessed on 21 December 2015 from http://lin.ca/sites/default/files/attachments/SeongbukguSouthKoreaprofilebook_0.pdf
4. Stephanie MOT. 2009. Baekundongcheon/Gwanghwamun-gil – A River Runs Through it. Seoul Village. Accessed on 19 December 2015 from http://seoulvillage.blogspot.hk/2009/08/baekundongcheon-gwanghwamun-gil-river.html
5. The International Awards for Liveable Communities. 2011. Seongbuk District, Seoul, Korea. Accessed on 21 December 2015 from http://www.livcomawards.com/2011-awards/documents/SeongbukDistrict.pdf