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Monday, February 15, 2016

OH Se-hoon returns... but did he ever leave?

Wondering what OH Se-hoon's face is doing on a giant ad towering over Seochon (here seen from Gwanghwamun)?

Fun to see former Seoul mayor OH Se-hoon run in Jongno-gu, and his ad in Seochon (20160215 -

ICYMI, the former Seoul mayor is running for a seat in Jongno-gu. Of course, OH eyes the other end of Gyeongbokgung, Cheong Wa Dae, and the presidential elections he thought were tailored for him, back in 2010, when he got reelected in spite of his party's defeat across the capital.
Winning in 2017 may be a bit early, but conservatives lack a clear leader: CHUNG Mong-joon had a rough year, Kim Moo-sung is too divisive a figure, and if BAN Ki-moon renounces, OH stands a chance.

For his return, picking a left-leaning district sounds like a rather risky bet, but what a symbol: in the heart of Sadaemun, in the Seochon where his administration got hundreds of traditional houses preserved (remember: OH didn't start as a hanok hugger, thank Peter Bartholomew and friends for that bitter lesson*)...

A face off with PARK Won-soon in 2017 could be fun watching. While his successor reluctantly inaugurated his three architectural follies (new city hall, DDP, Some Sevit), and took the helm of ICLEI, OH was on a world tour, first at the Kings College in London, then advising for the Koica (Korea International Cooperation Agency) two emerging capitals for 6 month each: Kigali, Rwanda, and Lima, Peru. He published two diary books about these experiences when he returned to Seoul last year.

Looking back at these five years, OH's spell in the wilderness seems like a nice marketing plan: an exile to beef up the global / human / compassionate leader side, with interviews every six month or so to keep in touch with voters...

If you're kind enough to follow Seoul Village on Twitter (that's @THEseoulvillage), you haven't skipped a beat. Here are a few of my tweets mentioning OH (sorry for the recurring expression 'former Seoul mayor', these tweets usually don't appear next to each other):

OH Se-hoon eventually picks Jongno-gu for his return to Korea politics ("Former Seoul mayor announces bid for parliamentary election" - Yonhap News 20160117). Failure would doom his 2017 dreams. (20160117 -

Former mayor OH Se-hoon won't run again for Seoul (itw w Korea JoongAng Daily), but Korea? To "fulfill political and social responsibility" (20150225 -

Interview of former Seoul mayor OH Se-hoon, now advisor to another capital city: Kigali, Rwanda: "Oh Se-hoon reflects on battle of parties’ welfare policies" (20141119 -

Former Seoul mayor OH Se-hoon pleads guilty. Failed referendum did offer capital city to rivals. Planning a comeback? (20140628 -

Former Seoul mayor OH Se-hoon sharing his experience with Lima, Peru. also on his legacy, welfare, PARK Won-soon: "Since leaving City Hall, Oh’s career has been going places" (20131204 -

Ex Seoul mayor OH Se-hoon plans an international studies tour: China (Northeast Asian security), Stanford (NAFTA), Europe (20120208 -

PS: If you haven't much read from me on these lines lately, that's because I've also been out of town, in Europe and Africa. Don't worry, Seoul remains on my mind, and I'll be back in a few weeks, but I won't run.

Seoul Village 2016
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* see "Am I My Hanok's Keeper? Peter E. Bartholomew's Defense and Illustration of Korean Architecture"

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Seun Sangga back on the (road)map

Last August, I didn't feel very optimistic about Seun Sangga's regeneration plans. KIM Swoo-geun's cruise liner of a landmark didn't look like a priority for Seoul authorities, who seemed to focus exclusively on the more controversial Seoul Station 7017 project*.

The competition for Seun Sangga had been won a few weeks earlier by a local team (Architect KIM Taek-bin, Pr. CHANG Yong Soon from Hongik University, Pr. LEE Sang-koo from Gyeonggi University) with a 'Modern Vernacular' concept that included boxes along the deck, and a slope on the Jongmyo side.

After many discussions with local citizens and stakeholders, the city modified a few things, and announced late last month that the 2017 timeline would be respected.

Seun Sangga "reestablished" by 2017: Seoul confirms timeline (20160130 -
Regardless of the project selected, this will be a tricky process, and a challenge not only for urban planners but for Seoul Housing to preserve social diversity. This beloved neighborhood will probably not remain the same, but let's hope that its core dynamics will survive.

And let's see how this 3D map of the Seun Sangga area (probably the work of one of the competitors) evolves.
Love it. A giant 3d SeunSangga neighborhood map at Seoul FabLab (20160106 -
The map's hanging on the walls of Seoul FabLab, a paradise for young 'makers', and I can't dream of a better symbol for this unique ecosystem and its future.

Seoul Village 2016
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* In "Seoul Station 7017: Forget 2017?":
"Personally, I wouldn't have bet on this very risky SS7017 as my main option for a landmark. For instance, solving the Seun Sangga conundrum was also very tricky (starting with safety issues), but much more important for Seoul's balance and urban regeneration.
Still time to reassess priorities, I guess." 

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