Thursday, May 12, 2016

Take a walk on the Seoul side

More good news for pedestrians in Seoul: 10 streets will undergo a "road diet" this year, and twice more shall follow every year.

By "road diet", the metropolitan government means slimmer, curvier, healthier streets, like in this example where one traffic lane is turned into sidewalks:

Now if you look at the first 10 streets, some have already great assets as neighborhood connectors, short yet scenic and / or gastronomic walkways, often already lined with trees. But many have little to tell, like the 'apateu' blocks surrounding them. 

Here's the list, starting with my favorite:

  • Saemunan-ro-5-gil (Jongno-gu): between Gwanghwamun and Gyeongbokgung stations, the first parallel to the left of Sejong-daero, backstage for the governmental buildings or the Sejong Cultural Center, but centerstage for such great eateries as my beloved Gwanghwamun-jip (yummy gimchi jjigae below). Redefined by the Four Seasons Seoul, it also signals the beginning of the Baekundongcheon diagonal (see "Baekundongcheon / Gwanghwamun-gil - A River Runs Through It"), and I wouldn't be surprised if that diagonal became car-free in the future...

  • Noksapyeong-daero-26-gil, Yongsan-gu: known for its antique shops, this elbow connects Noksapyeong-daero and Bogwang-ro.
  • Seongsuil-ro-10-gil, Seongdong-gu: a treeless diagonal between Seongsuil-ro and Achasan-ro, and one of the old royal hunting trails - you can tell them because they radiate from where the old stone bridge used to cross Cheonggyecheon / Jungnangcheon.
  • Dongil-ro, Gwangjin-gu: further to the West, Northeast Seoul's backbone follows Jungnangcheon from Yeongdong Bridge. Seoul starts with the Southern section, more interesting around Jayang-dong, but very challenging because of that ugly bridge landing.
  • Gwanak-ro-30-gil, Gwanak-gu: a stretch lined with trees between Gwanak-ro and Kkachisan Park
  • Opaesan-ro-3-gil, Seongbuk-gu: not much to see either between Naebu Expressway and Wolgye-ro, but you already have sidewalks and trees.
  • Nowon-ro-1ga-gil, Nowon-gu: a lower section of Gongneung-dong around the school
  • Guil-ro-10-gil, Guro-gu: between Anyangcheon and the pack of railways south of Guro Station (Line 1), in Guro-dong.
  • Yeouidaebang-ro-44-gil, Dongjak-gu: a scenic walk around Daebang-dong Community Center, and along Noryangjin Neighborhood Park
  • Nonhyeon-ro, Gangnam-gu: maybe the city wants to improve the shopping experience of Gangnamites along the vertical axis between Maebong, Yeoksam, Eonju, Hak-dong, and Apgujeong stations. Or to remind them that they have feet, and that they could, for a change, spare the driver and spoil the Jimmy Choos.
This announcement followed series of updates by the city of its urban plans for 2025 issued last Autumn, including this list of zones preserved from demolition and reconstruction within Sadaemun / the fortress walls (Ikseon-dong also included):

Of course, you first notice the spots that WILL be redeveloped, like the Sajikistan I mentioned recently ("The Yongsan itch and the Sajik balm"). And the extension of semi-protected zones around Seun Sangga (Jugyo-dong, Ojang-dong, and Chungmuro 5-ga prolonging the direct neighborhoods listed in the regeneration project), or along Jong-ro near Jongmyo (e.g. Inui-dong)...

... not to mention the irony of seeing the DDP in an area 'preserved from large-scale redevelopment'.

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