SEOUL / Walkability to Promote Image of a Democratic Government: People’s Voices
In early 1990s, Non-government organizations started to collect complaints about unsafe pedestrian environment and responded by organizing civic movements for pedestrian rights. On June 20 of 1993, Networks for Green Transport, together with Safe Kids Korea, Korea Healthy Walking Federation and the Korea Traffic Disabled Association held the ‘Urban Walking Festival for the Promotion of the Right to Walk’ to promote pedestrians’ rights, with a sub-topic of ‘Harmony between Humans and Cars Begins with the Promotion of the Right to Walk’(KSP18 pg 43). Over 1,000 people joined the parade from Seoul City Hall to Marronnier Park in Jongno 5-ga, calling for the improvement of pedestrian rights and security of pedestrian rights. In the event, they called for the expansion of the budget from government for the improvement of the pedestrian environment, creation of school zones and residential zones and improvement of the road system and road facilities for pedestrian rights of people with physical disabilities.(KSP18 PG80)
After that, In 1994 there was ‘the co-walking festival for the promotion of mobility rights for the disabled and the mobility handicapped’ and in 1995 there was ‘the bike ride in celebration of Earth Day’.（KSP18 pg43）In September 1998, same group of NGOs called for over 2,000 people to sign the petition in a few hours to claiming the need to restore crosswalks in Gwanghwamun.
The transformation of the car-only traffic square in front of Seoul City Hall to be turned into a pedestrian plaza also started with campaign of citizens. The public demanded a walkable street that linked Sungnyemun Gate (Namdaemun) to Gyeongbokgung Palace via Deoksugung Palace and Seoul City Hall. They expected that it would demonstrate the implementation of grassroots democracy by showing that the city government did not reign over the public but listened to them. Mass demonstration, petition and urban walking festival were held one by one and eventually in 2004 it is finally transformed.
Sung, So-young, and Brian Lee. “Conflict Emerges over Seoul Plaza.” Korea JoongAng Daily, June 23, 2009. http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2906467.
Cho, Junhan, Seok Jeong, Eun-hee Kim, In-seok Kim, Sam-jin Lim, Myo-hee Myeong, and Ki-ok So. Edited by Sam-jin Lim. Report no. 18. THE KOREA TRANSPORT INSTITUTE.