Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Korean Canal Project - part 3 - Han river as the 2nd miracle of Seoul city waterfront

One of the main project of waterfront in South Korea is Han river. The most famous project under designed recently is being a focus to the korean canal project instead. The Korean canal project may ascertain this mega project as is suggested by Seoul mayor as the second miracle of Han river. We may see the big project that will be followed by the Korean big canal project.

Seoul mayor emphasizes that it is time to market the city internationally after developing it as a "brand" and the Hangang (or Han River), with its central geographic location, will be the focus for the development of the city's new image. "We've seen the Hangang only from the perspective of flood control and its geographic status dividing the city into north and south," Oh Se-hoon said in an interview with The Korea Times.

Project Underway to Redesign City

"Now, we want to develop the river as Seoul's iconic landmark, which will allow the city to have competitiveness." The city government last July announced more modified plans for the large-scale redevelopment plan under the title of the "Hangang Renaissance Master Plan" after it detailed last year's initial city restructuring plan.

Hangang Renaissance
The plan is mainly divided into two main themes - restoration and creation. The restoration focuses on the revival of the river's old functions as an ecological home to people and other creatures while the creation aims to offer spaces for culture, business and tourism to the overcrowded city.
The city will soon designate special areas around the river as a core-developing zone under the theme of "Waterfront Town." They include Magok, Yongsan, Yeouido, Sangam and Jamsil. They will enable people to visit the river and its parks without traffic difficulties or hindrances.
The riverside highway roads will be reconstructed underground so that people can walk freely around the river, without having to worry about noise or danger, and will also serve as a Mecca for business and tourism with various facilities such as R&D institutes and cultural centers.
The areas around the riverside have been mainly used for residential housing projects. In the long-term plan, however, the city will also see an international terminal linking Seoul and Shanghai in China via a Hangang-West Sea route from Jamsil. The massive redevelopment plan also includes improvement on scenic views of the Hangang areas.
The city will come up with comprehensive guidelines for the designs of buildings and construction on the areas. "The scenic view of the river will be changed. It will be planned from the viewpoint of a ship on the river, not from an apartment on the riverside" Oh said. The plan will be fine-tuned and finalized within the year and more tangible results will come out from next year, the mayor expected.
"Let's say, if the first 'Miracle on Hangang' refers to the nation's drastic economic growth, the second 'Miracle of Hangang' will be more about cultural revolution," he said. The efforts for the facelift of the city have been also well recognized internationally. Seoul was designated as the "World Design Capital (WDC) 2010" by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design on the last day of its congress in San Francisco on Oct. 21.

The WDC project is a biennial international competition to identify and recognize a city that has effectively used design to revive the community and improve the quality of life for its citizens. True International City Along with the redesign of the city's appearance, the mayor also emphasizes the importance of systematic supports for its citizens and visitors from abroad to develop the city into one that is international in the true sense of the word.
He believes that the city should offer a better environment for overseas guests and residents as well as native citizens as the country is rapidly turning into a multicultural society. The number of foreigners residing here exceeded a million last August for the first time, which makes up about 2 percent of the total population, according to the Ministry of Justice. Of them, some 200,000 live in Seoul alone.
"Now, it's time to stop thinking that we live in a racially homogeneous nation. We should think about the ways to live together with foreigners in harmony," Oh said. Of the many difficulties that overseas visitors and residents face here, in the view of the mayor, the language barrier is one of biggest problems. To tackle the issue, he said the city would soon launch a project to designate "global zones."

Under the global project, the city government will select 15 districts where many foreigners reside and visit. The selected areas will offer more foreigner-friendly administrative services. It also plans to build two more international schools in the zones. The project will consist of three different types of zones - global business zone, global culture exchange zone and global village.
In the global business zone, the Seoul Global Center will be established to deal with business affairs for foreign companies. Culturally Rich City Seoul citizens may think they have so many attractions in the city but many overseas visitors may think differently, often complaining about the lack of things to enjoy. The mayor said that having the city's representative festival like the Rio Carnival in Brazil and Edinburgh Festival in Scotland can be a solution to the problem.
"Many foreigners visiting Seoul point out that the city lacks attractions to see and enjoy. We have been pushing hard to create various activities and events for them in hot spots around the city. And we believe various festivals in Seoul are as important as tourism programs in the marketing of the city," the mayor said. He expected the "Hi Seoul Festival" can be developed into one of Seoul's representative festivals.
Although the festival in spring has still a long way to be recognized as a successful international festival, this year's festival produced fruitful results as it was held under the unified theme of Han River and Seoul's history, he said. "The festival still lacks a strong image to represent the city. But the huge participation of locals and foreign tourists in the festival gave me a chance to realize how important an enjoyable festival is once again," Oh said.

source : Korea Times

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