SEOUL / Walkability to Promote Image of a Democratic Government: Government Responses 2

The Mayor of Seoul was Cho Soon at the time the Seoul Pedestrian Ordinance was enacted. After him, the 31st Seoul Mayor, Goh Kun, made a pledge to push the project with his all heart in his candidate speaking. Then he took office and it was during his administration that Seoul City’s first Basic Plans for the Pedestrian Environment were established.

Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration Project

First major project – Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration Project was carried out by Seoul major, Lee Myung-bak in 2003 and finished in 2005. The elevated highway was removed and stream was restored, spaces for walkways were created. 120,000 tons of water were to be pumped in daily from the Han River, its tributaries, and groundwater from subway stations.

4.1 Cheongyecheon stream before(upper) and after(lower) the restoration project

Creation of the Seoul Plaza

creation of the Seoul Plaza was done in 2004, under leadership Lee Myung-bak as well. The car-oriented area in front of Seoul City Hall with number of intersections without crosswalk were changed into pedestrian plaza called Seoul Plaza. Now, people can use a crosswalk in front of Seoul City Hall without using an underpass. The area is now the most symbolic place of the city.

4.2 Area in front of Seoul City Hall before (upper) and after the creation of a pedestrian plaza (lower)

Creation of Gwanghwamun Plaza

Creation of Gwanghwamun Plaza was the most noteworthy improvenment projects during terms of Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon from 2006 to 2011. Sejong Road was a 16-lane, two way road that started at Gwanghwamun. It was the widest road at over 100 meters and served as a symbol of Seoul and the starting point of Korea’s main road. In the project, car lanes were reduced from 16 to 11 and the strip with gingko trees in the middle of the road were transformed into a gigantic pedestrian plaza.

4.3 Before (upper) and after the creation of Gwanghwamun Plaza (lower)

Seoullo 7017

The most recent major project relating to promotion of walkability is Seoullo 7017 built in 2017, under leadership of Seoul Major Park Won Soon. Total 938m of the deteriorated elevated road near Seoul Station was transformed from a road for cars to a path for people. The elevated road is connected to 17 pedestrian roads through Seoul Station Plaza and the area to the north of Seoul Station. It is expected to be a “Bridge of communication,” a place where people can gather and gradually disperse into surrounding areas.

4.4 Before(upper) and after(lower) the Seoullo 7017 project

Most Recent Seoul Plan about Walkability

In 2013, Seoul Government presented the “Seoul Vision for the Pedestrian-friendly City” which now serves as a guideline for all pedestrian-related policies. The “Vision” includes ten projects in total:

  1. Expansion of Designated Pedestrian-only Streets

Taking consideration of local conditions such as pedestrian traffic volume, functions of roads and road traffic, Seoul Government planned to expand amount of pedestrian-only streets and operate them in different time periods. Example of such streets including Sejong Road, Itaewon Road, Gangnam Boulevard. Professional management planners would be hired for the operation of the substantial content of these designated areas, such as inviting public participation in development of festivals and events reflecting local characteristics.

  1. Creation of Five Pedestrian-friendly Areas

Pedestrian-friendly Areas project consists of extension of walkways, installation of safety-related facilities such as pedestrian guidance signboards and specialized local passages that bring influx of people. The chosen areas for the project were Yeonse-ro, Seongbukdong-gil, Gangbyeonno, Yeongjungno and Daehangno.

  1. Introduction of the Pedestrian-first Roads

In living areas with high volume of pedestrian traffic and wide roads, Seoul Government planned to introduce pedestrian-first roads where pedestrian have priority of passage over vehicles. The sidewalk of the pedestrian-first road would be widened as much as possible and speed bumps, pedestrian-first signboards and roundabouts would be installed. The speed limit of vehicles would be 30km/h.

  1. Operation of Children-only Streets

For chosen streets, traffic safety sign will be marked on the road, more CCTVs are installed, and the entry of vehicles is controlled in the road in front of the schools during school hours.  “Amazone” spaces, where children can romp around, would be operated in seven model areas in five districts by 2014.

  1. Lowering of Speed Limit on Back Roads of Living Areas

Maximum speed limits will be lowered from 40km/h to 30km/h on double-lane roads and from 60km/h to 50km/h on four-lane roads for back roads of living areas.

  1. Overall Improvement of the Pedestrian Environment for the Mobility Handicapped

Project includes increase in installation of elevators (from 794 to 826 units) and escalators (from 1,779 to 1,852 units) to 2,678 units in total at subway stations; providing a voice recognition service for destination information for the blind at 400 inter-city bus stations; and expand installation of acoustic signal generating devices by 1000 units each year.

  1. Extension of Green Signal Time of Traffic Lights Installed at Pedestrian Crossings

Green signal time of traffic lights at pedestrian crossings will be increased from the existing 1.0m/s to 0.8m/s.

  1. Installation of Crosswalks at All Downtown Intersections

Overpasses and underground passages will be replaced by crosswalks in all direactions in downtown area.

  1. Spread of Walking Culture via the “Seoul Walkathon” as a Pedestrian Festival and Creation of Downtown Pedestrian Roads Connecting with Tourist Attractions


Lee D, Park B. Effects of Elevated Public Skygarden on Employees’ Psychological Restoration-A Case Study of Seoullo 7017[J]. 동아시아경관연구 (구 휴양 및 경관연구), 2018, 12(2): 51-60.

Schmidt, M. (2018). Shaping Seoul: Employing Heritage in the Urban Regeneration Projects Seoullo 7017 and Again Sewoon (Master’s thesis).

Hong, Y. (2018). Actual condition of Seoullo 7017 overpass regeneration project based on field surveys. Frontiers of Architectural Research7(3), 415-423.

Cho, M. R. (2010). The politics of urban nature restoration: The case of Cheonggyecheon restoration in Seoul, Korea. International Development Planning Review32(2), 145-165.

Lee, J. Y., & Anderson, C. D. (2013). The restored Cheonggyecheon and the quality of life in Seoul. Journal of Urban Technology20(4), 3-22.

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