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Cheonggyecheon Opens

Posted October. 03, 2005 03:15,   


Cheonggyecheon, restored after 47 years, touched many people. The area surrounding the stream was crowded with many people even late at night on October 2. Citizens were allowed to enter the area starting at 10:00 a.m. on October 1.

However, a safety problem emerged as a woman in her 50s fell to death on the first day of the opening.

Over the weekend, 800,000 people went to see the Cheonggyecheon.

Some 580,000 people went to see the Cheonggyecheon on October 1, alone. For two days, Saturday and Sunday, the stream attracted about 800,000 people. Around the time when “New Water Celebration” was held at 6:00 p.m. on October 1 at Cheonggye Square, roads near the stream and parks were crowded with people.

Citizens, who visited the Cheonggyecheon in twos and threes with families, loved ones, and friends seemed to be fascinated with the clean water flowing with a refreshing sound in the middle of the city. Notably, there were many senior citizens in their 60s and over who remembered the old stream.

Lee Kyu-seung (80), from Yesan, Chungnam, said, “I am filled with deep emotion watching the stream flow again after half a century. This area is very nice to walk around because there are beautiful wall paintings and fountains.”

Cheonggye Square was packed with many citizens who took pictures of attractions such as the waterfall, Gwangtong Bridge and Jeongjo Banchado.

Lee Soo-jin (26), who visited the area with her boyfriend, said, “There are few places where we can put our feet in the water and dabble with water. I feel emotionally closer to this stream than the Han river.”

Lack of Signs at Entrance-

On the second day of the opening, people visited the stream from the early morning onwards. Some of them had a hard time on the road looking for entrance stairways to the park.

Lee Seong-hyun (45), who visited the stream with family members, said, “My children wanted to see the stream more closely, but I had difficulty finding the entrance to the park because there was no information signboard. Considering the whole size of the block, there are too few stairways to the entrance, making it difficult to get to the park.” Currently, there are 23 entrances in total for the whole area.

There is a shortage of bathrooms, wastebaskets and information signboards. Without knowing where the bathrooms and wastebaskets in the park were, citizens ran around in confusion.

Safety accidents and parking problems should be addressed as well.

At 10:50 p.m. on October 1, a woman in her 50s fell from Samil Bridge to her death, proving that the safety concerns expressed by civic groups and the media were legitimate.

The sidewalk surrounding the stream is only 1-1.5 meters wide and the handrail is one meter high, while the height to the bottom is as much as 4-5 meters, increasing the danger of a falling accident. Indeed, as people swarmed toward the stream, dangerous scenes were witnessed.

Also problematic is that people tend to jaywalk because the crosswalk is far from the entrance to the park, and the signal system is unstable. Besides, because of the shortage of parking information signs, cars looking for parking lots became entangled with thru traffic, causing a traffic jam.

Shin Woo-seok (46) said, “I was told there would be many toll parking lots, so I drove my car. But I had hard time finding parking lots because there was no information about where they were and how to get there. More consideration should be given to citizens who drive to the Cheonggyecheon.”

Soo-Jung Shin Chin-Ku Lee crystal@donga.com sys1201@donga.com