Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cheong Gye Cheon stream (Photo-essay)

Back in the summer of 2008, I read a TIME magazine article about a once polluted, then covered, stream in Seoul that had been close to miraculously rejuvenated and decided in a flash that some day, I would like to see it for myself.

On the fifth day of my Korean visit, I finally allowed myself to take a close to 6 kilometer stroll along the beautiful banks of Cheong Gye Cheon, the serene stream that flows right through central Seoul and whose present (since September 2005) incarnation spells a major victory for the environment and environmentalists. And, as I hope this photo essay (and at least one -- maybe two -- more to come) will show, it proved to be a real pleasure to walk along the banks of this urban waterway that has been radically transformed -- and in the process, may also have helped transform a city:-

Waterfall and skyscrapers near Cheonggye Plaza
at the western end (or should I say start?)
of the Cheong Gye Cheon stream

Artificial sprays of mist at the digital canvas section
create small but beautiful rainbows
-- like the one in the above photo

A small section of the large porcelain mural showing
the filial King Jeonjo visiting his father's tomb
in Suwon on his mother's 60th birthday in 1795

Flowers aplenty grow on the banks of the stream

And insects can be found in the vicinity too --
such as this dragonfly
sunning itself
on a green stalk
by the stream

A duck floating on a stream right in Seoul city center!

One of the cooler things about the stream
is how the banks on both sides of it
vary in height from section to section

Something really fortuitous: that
my mother's and my Korean visit was a time
when the autumn leaves ranged in color
from bright green to warm yellow, orange and red


ewaffle said...

Your trip to Korea has really paid off with a lot of lovely pictures for fans of your work.

The last one, with the multi-colored ivy dominating most of the image and the people on the sidewalk much smaller and less distinct, but still there as part of the picture, is striking. It is an image that deserves a thorough examination, although saying, as I am, that I'm not sure why I like it so much but I think it is a great photograph, is sufficient in itself but by no means complete. If that makes sense.

The Seoul authorities did a nice job with the porcelain--some of figures have real personality, including the one with blue sleeves in the lover right with the very top of his hat clipped by a grout line. While most of the men depicted are officious looking, he seems quite grumpy. Perhaps he was supposed to have the day off from his official duties and got stuck doing yet another royal procession. Or perhaps just has a stomach ache.

Do you recall the size of the installation? It looks lilke there may be hundreds (or more) of the figures.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I feel rejuvenated just looking at these photos!

The restoration of this stream is a great model for how to respect the important natural features of a place and integrate them into a cityscape rather than blindly obliterate them. It's also equally pertinent to historical structures.

I really feel that a balance between preservation and development is in the end far more profitable (in the largest sense of that word) than short-term monetary gain.

alejna said...

Great photos! The kid in me never tires of seeing photos of rainbows. And I love the shadow in your dragonfly shot.

Horsoon said...

Love this post! Especially the photos :)

YTSL said...

Hi ewaffle --

"Fans of my work". You mean I have fans -- not just friends and blog visitors? ;O

More seriously, thanks for your comments and observations. Find them very interesting!

Re that last picture feeling incomplete: I think it's the fact that the sky's whitish rather than blue. So, as a result, the space behind the people looks empty.

As for the size of that installation: it's 192 meters in length and 2.4 meters wide in total. And has depictions of 1,779 attendants and 229 horses in it!

Hi duriandave --

You wrote: "I really feel that a balance between preservation and development is in the end far more profitable (in the largest sense of that word) than short-term monetary gain."

To which I only want to add: "hear, hear"!

Hi alejna --

Wow, you (and ewaffle) sure are looking closely at my photos! To which I say: thank you! :)

Hi Horsoon --

Glad (some of) my photos are to your liking -- especially since I feel that way about so many of your photos! :)

Cold Spaghetti said...

What a wonderful photo essay! And a great message of what protecting a waterway can do to an urban environment.

YTSL said...

Hi Cold Spaghetti --

I'm glad you like the photo essay. Hope you'll come back to see more! :)

And yes: what Seoul has done with the Cheong Gye Cheon is truly admirable -- and something much of the rest of the world should aspire to.