Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pimatgol - a streamlet runs through it

On my way to Kyobo Bookstore (scavenging for bargains : the institution will close on April 1st for renovation (see "Kyobo Bookstore V2"), I observed the new construction site just across the main entrance, where the book center usually displays books on promotion outdoors.

Workers were building a stone sidewalk including what appears to be the future bed of Junghakcheon (중학천), the streamlet which used to run towards Cheonggyecheon* along the Eastern side of Gyeongbokgung and this very street, named after it : Junghakcheon-gil (in Cheongjin-dong, parallel to Sejongno and behind Kyobo Building, KT Art Hall, the US Embassy...).

The restored streamlet will reach Jongno Fire Station up the street, next to Jongno-gu Office and 340 m from Cheonggyecheon. But that's only the first step of the project, which will follow Samcheongdong-gil, the street bordering the Gyeongbokgung and leading so Seongbuk-dong :
. A second section of 1,020 m will connect the fire station to Jeongdok Public Library, or rather the intersection with Bukchon-gil, which also happens to be the entrance of the old Defense Security Command, now an art museum. Note that the library itself is not on this street bordering the Gyeongbokgung but in Hwa-dong, opposite Artsonje Center.
. A third section (1,040 m) will go from there to the end of Samcheongdong-gil. Actually, Junghakcheon was also known as Samcheongdongcheon (삼청동천).

In the first section or at least at this stage of construction, the renovation seems to be focusing more on "history / prestige" than on "wellbeing / ecosystem" : the waterway's bed is made of stone and in a straight line, not with rocks and plants** and following a curvy path.

Again, this is only the beginning, but we can already make out a small bridge which could be the future entrance of a Pimatgol 2.0, even if the bridge looks closer to main street (Jongro) than the old Pimatgol entrance (most recently signaled by a rotten wooden post and various bodily fluids). Anyway, right now, this bridge is a bridge to nowhere or rather a bridge to a vast wasteland : Pimatgol's last houses and restaurants have finally been erased (my bindaetteok place lasted much more than expected***).

Seoul Village 2010
see also "Baekundongcheon / Gwanghwamun-gil - A River Runs Through It"

* Reminder : technically, Junghakcheon connects with Baekundongcheon (백운동천) to create Cheonggyecheon. Next comes Namsandongcheon (남산동천), from the South and Namsan. The three waterways are either under restoration or about to be reopened.
** while I'm at it, when you see people pick up herbs along Seoul riversides, tell them not to eat them : many varieties can be used in traditional recipes, but those collected in such areas have been proven totally unfit for consumption and utterly "unwell being".
*** see "
Welcome to Pimatgol"

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