Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chung Mong-joon keeps rising...

I still don't get it.

Haemil future headquarters just reached their "ground floor"*, and they look every bit as massive as I feared they would (see "
Haemil - a think tank or only a tank ?").

Come on. This is absurd. Almost comical.

From the outside, it looks like those villas built by careless owners optimizing every square centimeter of land they own, not caring if neighbors will face a wall fifty centimeters from their windows. The new building deliberately mocks at all the rules set to prevent abuses : it's bigger than the previous construction, taller than its neighbors, and in one of Seoul's supposedly most protected areas ! On royal grounds claimed by the Japanese during the occupation...

The irony of it is that it will host a think tank meant to boost the image of a future presidential candidate taking infinite precaution to soften his reputation.

I have no doubt he will enjoy a royal view from the upper floors and the roof... but at best, Haemil Headquarters will look like a massive and odd extension to the royal palace, and at worst, the royal palace will look like a small annex to Haemil.

Obviously, Chung Mong-joon's advisors don't have a clue about what they're doing. I can hear them say : "we can still gain some square meters, make it even bigger, it will pass don't worry, I know such and such and we'll get the authorization"... well they obviously won, but at what cost ?

What is the message here ? My ego is bigger than historic sites ? I'm used to getting the best for myself, even if it's not the best for my country, even if it's over the limits, I'm above the rules and I don't care about the consequences... ? this is the way I think and act, would you please vote for me as your next president ?...

Someone seems to care. Someone who, somehow, thinks within this "think tank". Enough to understand that this may be not so good for the image of a future president. This person obtained that the publicity around the construction be minimized : people working there refuse to talk about it, there is no mention of Haemil nor of the purpose of the building on the site (first time I asked they said it would be a "library"), and I know when there's a press conference at nearby KFA because that's the only moment when they stop working. Otherwise, they're busy every day until after dark. As if this genius thought he could go away with it. "No one stopped us during the construction, now it's too late ! What's done can't be undone."

What that great thinker doesn't seem to understand is that completing construction without any reaction doesn't solve anything. To the contrary, it makes things worse : the mess is bound to hit the fan, and the later it does, the uglier.

We are not talking about some "folie" built in a discreet Hyoja-dong alleyway, but about a landmark which will be as visible as the big advertisings behind Namdaemun gate, which in their times stirred so many controversies (all pictures of Sungnyemun featured the logo of an international express mail service provider in the background).

Every visitor to Gyeonghuigung (and more and more people discover this central spot these days) will wonder : who dared build this big thing right behind the palace in 2009 ? and who on Earth let that happen ?

Chung Mong-joon just became the Grand National Party's new leader, opening a boulevard for himself towards the next presidential elections**. Good for him, but he should also take care of that other urban development before it's too late.

My guess : he may need a bulldozer...

... Speaking of which : Lee Myung-bak, who wants the constitution to allow second terms for presidents, introduced a new contender by naming Seoul National University Professor Chung Un-chan his next Prime Minister.

Just in case ?

Seoul Village 2009

ADDENDUM 20090924

The construction of the last floor started today... oh my oh my oh my it's even bigger than I feared.

* as expected, the first "basement" is at the same level as the ground floor of the building next door.
** Oh Se-hoon officially wants to serve a second term as Mayor of Seoul

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