Monday, February 16, 2009

Jongmyo - Changdeokgung reunited

Jongmyo visitors can join the Changdeok palace (or vice versa) through a small bridge over a busy 4-lane road separating both UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Jongno-gu.

That miserable road, a long stretch between two beautiful places, offers little to see except the canopy, long grey walls, and intense traffic.

Two more lanes will be added, probably for public transportation (buses are often jammed there), but all traffic shall go underground : at last, both monuments will be reunited in a strong vertical and cultural green line.

Beyond Jongro and prolonging this new perspective between Bukhansan and Namsan, and forming a cross with the recently restored Cheonggyecheon, public gardens will replace the Sewoon shopping center (세운상가), a long and narrow rectangular monstruosity built in 1968.

A few blocks westwards, another urban nightmare, the Nagwon shopping center (낙원상가), will disappear and liberate Samil-ro and the way between the Unhyeongung and Tapgol Park (Pagoda Park).

At the macro level, the Insadong - Gwonnong-dong - Jongno-3-ga triangle is definitely changing for the better. But at the micro level, local authorities are unfortunately not doing anything to prevent whole packs of hanoks from being destroyed, or non descript three story buildings from being erected.

That's the difference between good initiatives and a great vision.

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