Monday, September 6, 2010

Reconsidering Sejongno Park

After the Eastern side of Sejongno this morning ("Insadong - Bukchon seamless for pedestrians"), some news from the not so far West.

At the intersection between Naejadong-gil* and Sejongno lies a small public park echoing the historical significance of the area, for centuries a cluster of ministries. But Sejongno Park is neither nice nor welcoming, and most visitors are simply on their way in or out the old parking operated underground. I often wonder how Sejongno would look like if it were animated all the way during cultural events, and particularly if this very spot were better designed : here is a very large space, in an ideal location (between Gyeongbokgung, Gwanghwamun Square, and Sejong Cultural Center), but totally wasted.

That could be about to change : the contract with the tenant expires in 2012 and the city intends to revive the area, creating a sunken garden, also history-themed, which (I presume) could be connected to the existing underground walkway across the boulevard, and maybe even to the King Sejong exhibition space inaugurated last year under Gwanghwamun Plaza.

That would make not only perfect sense but confirm the success of the restoration of Seoul's most prestigious axis. Of course, the design had better be right from the start (please not another Haechi Madang, please not another dangerous staircase that visitors discover only a split second before breaking their own necks...).

I reckon authorities will also keep an eye on demonstrators : since Gwanghwamun Square inauguration, small political gatherings have regularly been using the Cultural Center's staircases as a tribune, and this new spot would be almost at the feet of the Central Government Building... Note that further down the boulevard (Taepyeongno will merge with Sejongno), Mayor OH Se-hoon is facing similar threats : the metropolitan assembly, now overwhelmingly progressive, voted in favor of facilitating demonstrations under his very windows on Seoul Plaza.

More animation ahead, then. And many colorful "events" (pronounce "eee-bent").

Seoul Village 2010

* If you're not familiar with Naejadong-gil, that's the street perpendicular to the boulevard, starting between Sejong Cultural Center and the Central Government Building, with a short tunnel connection to the other side of Sejongno (near the US Embassy), and leading to Sajikno in front of Sajik-dan, with Inwangsan in the background. The street progressively evolves from an administrative / office center to a residential hub (Gwanghwamun Space Bon, Gyeonghuigungoe Achim...), with the Seoul Metropolitan Police in the middle and many eateries.

UPDATE 20110524 - Sejongno Park under renovation

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