Go to contents

Cheonggye Square Becomes Seoul’s Oasis

Posted December. 30, 2005 03:21,   


With just three more days to 2006, university student Lee Sung-hyun visited Cheonggye Square with his dad yesterday night. “I came out here to tell my dad that I love him and thank him for the hard work he endures for the family, but I was too shy to say so,” said Lee.

The father and son were holding hands as they watched Cheonggye Stream. It seemed as if no words were needed between them to know what the other wanted to say and hear.

People were writing their New Year’s wishes on a piece of paper and hanging them on Christmas trees in front of the square.

Most of the notes contained personal wishes like: “I hope we can be here together on the same day next year”; “Mother, please approve of our love”; and “Victory on getting a job!”

There were some funny notes that said, “(arrow) Please answer this person’s prayer. He sounds more desperate than I am”; “Safety during military service!” and “Mom told me to write ‘I love you.’ ”

The square has not only gathered old lives but also has given birth to new ones.

After the Cheonggye Stream was restored, the urban heat island phenomenon was alleviated. The stream has become home to various animals and plants including mallards, brown-eared bulbuls, daurian redstarts, common reeds, reeds, and Russian irises.

According to Korea Bird Research Institute attached to Kyunghee University and Seoul city, a total of 1,700 animals of 21 species are living there.

The square promotes love and unity among the people.

The “Hope 2006 Love Neighbor Campaign” started here with a “Love Thermometer Tower” in front of Seoul City Hall. Beginning here, the sound of the Salvation Army bell spread across the country.

Sincere Buddhists gave out free red-bean gruel on the winter solstice, and street artists attracted passers-by with various performances.

Members of “I Love Hwang Woo-suk,” an Internet-based support group for Professor Hwang, gathered here to pray for a ray of hope. A number of companies such as Hanwha, Doosan and SK participated in Mecenat activities to support culture, art and sports for a livelier city.

“We did not intend to come here, but my wife and I ended up coming here. Looking at the Christmas tree with people’s wishes, bright lights and endlessly flowing stream, I feel like everything will work out well next year,” said company worker Sim Jun-bo.

“I did not think a small square like this would warm urban dwellers’ hearts this much. I hope every one will be able to share each other’s sorrows next year,” he added.

Chin-Ku Lee sys1201@donga.com