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Seoul Beach

Posted July. 28, 2017 07:35,   

Updated July. 28, 2017 07:42


There is no beach in Paris, France. In 2002, then Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë came up with a creative idea to make one in the city. He blocked the roads near the Seine River and created a man-made beach with thousands of tons of sand. This is called Paris Plage. Although swimming is banned in the fast-running river, people can enjoy leisure time, drinking champagne or wine, on the sandy beach. I visited there when I worked as a correspondent in Paris. It was fun to see people enjoying ballroom dance. Now there are more man-made beaches in other French cities including Metz, Brussels in Belgium, and Jerusalem in Israel.

"Under the cobblestones is the beach.” It is a famous slogan of the May 1968 movement in France. The movement tried to recover spirit of community as well as resistance to oppression. Although Delanoë did not remove cobblestones, he partially fulfilled the revolution slogan by creating a beach on the road.

In Seoul, the Jamsu Bridge will be closed to traffic until July 30 to create a beach in the 500-meter-long area. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon seems to love Delanoë’s ideas. He launched the Seoul city bike service "Ddareung-yi" in 2015, following the example of the Velib bike-sharing system in Paris. Now he turns the Jamsu Bridge into a beach, Korean version of Plage. A man-made beach was built on the banks of the Han River last year, but it failed to attract attention. The beach on the Jamsu Bridge is drawing more attention, probably because it feels good to see a bridge previously dominated by vehicles being turned into space for people.

Paris Plage lasts for a month, while Seoul Plage is provided for only three days. Using 800 tons of sand for only three days seems like a waste. Paris Plage is easy to access by public transportation, but access to Seoul Beach might not be easy. If it becomes a playground filled with children, it would not have the same vibe as Paris Plage. It is also concerned that revealing clothes or body exposure on the beach could annoy Koreans. A borrowed idea does not always translate into success. Nevertheless, Seoul Beach is expected to provide a unique experience for Seoul citizens.