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[Opinion] Historical View

Posted March. 04, 2002 09:16,   


After I moved into a new house few years ago, I took a walk around my house in the beginning of Winter. I was so pleased when I saw a hillock of my town, where leafless broadleaf trees were neatly stood on. The calmness of the residential area, which had developed along the hillside, was also good. Moreover, I really enjoyed the view of fluttering garden trees and roses over each houses` fences during the spring. Sometimes those views evoked my feeling of peace.

However, later on, the windows of those houses were removed out and the household goods were taken out on yard. Then, they were bulldozed out. It was very sad and painful experience to see the destruction of those houses, especially the sudden disappearance of peace.

Hanging up placards at the town entrance, the residents started their collective actions against a construction of high-rise apartments. But, it was said that the construction of twelve-story apartments complex would be completed in the near future because the construction was a legal project. It is certain that the hillock will become a garden exclusively for those apartments, and the apartment buildings will threaten the neighbors` rights to sunshine and to see the nature. In every summer, people will suffer from the heat of the cemented high-rise apartments and will miss the refreshing breezes that had blown from the hillock.

Those things are happening in front of my house. The hillock will be surrounded by luxury high-rise apartments, like a folding screen. Empty houses increased, and finally all the houses near the hillock moved out. Now, because of a destruction work, people suffer from the noise and dust pollution all day long. Sometimes people are awakened by noise at dawn. The ruins are artificially caused by a construction businessman`s moneymaking not caused by a natural disaster or war. To see a ruined town in every morning is terrible, and living in the middle of the ruins is very bad.

After leveling the ground, an excavation work will start. If the work meets a bedrock, the neighbors will be disturbed by a noisy sound of machines. Because the construction work will take at least 2-3 years, my concern is that whether there are laws that can protect the neighbors from the noise and the dangerous driving of the construction vehicles. In my understanding, our society has weak legal regulations to protect people from the damages caused by the construction works because of its tendency of development supremacy rather than environment.

The government is responsible for protecting the people from the suffering caused by the thoughtless development through an enactment of a refined environment law. First of all, the government should limit the re-construction of apartments, which is able to repair. If a re-construction is necessary, the government should make a construction company to build a tall sound absorbing wall, which can separate the construction site from the neighbors` daily living space, and should prohibit the work during the weekend. The government needs to prepare measures for securing people`s living rights, such as controlling the construction work hours from sunup to sundown, spreading water at the construction site to prevent dust pollution, and refining the noise regulation.

According to a 18th century real landscape painting of Gyumjae Jungsun, Seoul was a beautiful garden city. Among his landscapes of Seoul, `Jangan Yoenwoo` (Drizzling Seoul) presents a vivid description. From this painting, we can recognize the urban planning of Seoul, which had kept a pleasant living environment by preserving natural view and green zones. Although natural forests remained at that time, the imperial government employed the `prohibition mark` policy, which resembles today`s greenbelt policy, to preserve green zones. Our ancestors clearly realized the importance of forests for human life.

In the modernization process, we regret the dreary change of Seoul by bulldozing mountains and covering small streams. However, we cannot even maintain the newly developed residential areas. It is right to re-develop the ruined towns and old buildings. The problem is a trend that constructs apartment complexes by destroying a cozy residential town only based on economic interests. If this trend continues, Seoul will be filled with apartment complexes and will be surrounded by gray huge lumps of cement before long, and people will hardly live in. The life of an apartment building is 30 year. I am really concerned about how we can treat the poisonous cement remains when we have to destroy old apartment buildings in the future.

The government should stop the easing of greenbelt regulations facing every election time and the ruin of comfortable residential area by a thoughtless development. Because a city is a product of human labor, people are able to make a beautiful and orderly environment.

Jung Ok-Ja (Professor of the Seoul National University, Korean History, the Chairperson of the GyooJangGak)