Seoul: Yeouido Project/Reasons of Choosing Yeouido as new symbolic area of the nation

Yeouido, in 1960s-1970s, was built to be a new CBD of the Seoul and a new symbolic area of the nation-state with the National Assembly standing at the west corner of Yeouido. The reasons of choosing Yeouido are related to its special location and history.

Yeouido, as the name in Korean expressed, was a high ground that exist even when Han River flooded. It remained uninhabited for a long time since it is isolated and not easy to access before automobile was largely used. However, with the Han River Development project, highways and bridges were built to connect Yeouido and other CBDs. Relying on automobile became a symbol of modernization and the convenient traffic development became a characteristic of Yeouido that could be celebrate in that period. Therefore, the traffic issue was also an important feature that should be considered in Yeouido Development Project. It could be seen that the special location resulted in different consequences with the development of economics and technology.

Highways connecting Yeouido

During Japanese colonial period, Yeouido was used as a military airport. It also became the birthplace of South Korea Air Force in 1948. Since Yeouido has always been used as military base, it also set the foundation that this piece of land could be a proper choice for new symbolic national project.

Yeouido as an airport

In that period of 1960s, the South Korea was seeking their own culture identity after that long colonial time. The Ministry of Culture and Information established national culture policy which said the culture was ethnic, national and traditional. Building a totally new mega project presented the separation with the past colonial period. Using modernist style architecture complex also cut the cultural relationship with the past. Although it is not a traditional choice, the modernist form was seen as a neutral form to represent the modernization and national identity.

Modernist Style Buildings in Yeouido Project

Above all, choosing Yeouido as the new symbolic area of the nation was because its special location and history that could express the meaning of the modernization and new identity of the South Korea.

Reference:

  1. Bahl, Roy W. and Michael J. Wasylenko. “Urban Finance in Seoul.” Development Degest 14, no. 2 (1976): 20-30. U. S. Government Printing Office.
  2. Kim, Jung In. “Constructing a ‘miracle,’ Architecture, National Identity and Development of Han River: A Critical Exploration of Architecture and Urbanism: Seou’, 1961-1988.” PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2008.
  3. Pai, Hyungmin. “Modernism, Development, and the Transformation of Seoul: A Study of the Development of Sae’oon Sang’ga and Yoido.” In Culture and the City in East Asia, edited by Won Bae Kim, 104-24. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

3 Comments on “Seoul: Yeouido Project/Reasons of Choosing Yeouido as new symbolic area of the nation

  1. It is impressive to see how the small island witnessed the history of Korea and was transformed drastically. Rather than building a monument or memorial to recall the past, you mentioned that the new project is to separate the current situation with the past colonial situation, which is a very thought-provoking case to show how the city/nation deal with their past memory.

  2. It is interesting to read the dramatic history of Yeoido which was the island in Han River. Also, the highly developed island started to interact with the river for residents. Nowadays, the Island is surrounded by water and green parks.

  3. There are some wonderful references and historical images throughout the various posts, and they are all interconnected somehow. Would you consider adding more historical images to your narratives, so our understanding of the historical moment of the political symbolism of Yeouido is even more vivid?

    PS. The numerous citations of the images elsewhere refer to KTV. Can you spell out the full name, and ensure it was the original author, not an agency that reproduced the historical images?

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