≡ Menu

Gwanghwamun, New and Improved

Full-size Flickr slideshow here.

Here’s some shots of the new and improved Gwanghwamun area, a.k.a. Gwanghwamun Plaza, taken on Saturday night:

Gwanghwamun Plaza Fountain

Gwanghwamun Plaza Fountain

Gwanghwamun Plaza Fountain

Children Playing in the Fountain

Children Playing in the Fountain

Children Playing in the Fountain

Children Playing in the Fountain

It’s certainly more colorful than the old Sejongno, and it’s nice that for the first time, you can actually approach the landmark Yi Sun-sin statue, which previously was on a traffic island in the middle of one of Seoul’s busiest stretches of road. The kiddies seem to like it, too.

Kaesong Sundae

Hamhung Naengmyeon

And it wouldn’t be a full photo essay without some food pics, in this case, some rather nice Kaesong-style sundae and Hamhung-style naengmyeon, complete with raw skate.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • http://blog.oranckay.net oranckay

    Good stuff.

  • http://www.korealawblog.com Brendon Carr

    During the day, Gwanghwamun Plaza is a ridiculous sight, with throngs of people huddled together in the shadow of the Hyundai Fire & Marine Building, which offers the only respite from the sun blazing down on the molten stone and concrete expanse. Why there are no trees anywhere in the Plaza is difficult to understand — it’s not like we don’t have the examples of the treeless City Hall Plaza and Cheonggyeccheon to illustrate the desirability of some shade. But given how enthusiastically city workers torture and mutilate the wretched birches, it’s safe to say that Koreans hold a grudge against trees. Maybe the Japanese planted all the trees or something.

  • Bodoblock

    This might sound stupid, but how do you get your photos to look so good? All the pictures seem to pop.

  • R. Elgin

    Your observations are the same as mine and others Brendon. The plaza is a barren span of rock. Better treatment of trees and more trees in certain places would be super. I honestly think that the municipal workers — at the Gu level — don’t care or know about trees, thus they mutilate root and branch.

    The fountain is a success with the kids though; they love it.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    The fountain is a success with the kids though; they love it.

    Just wait until a motomogi or taxi idiot loses control because of all the water spreading out from the “moat” around the new plaza unto the roadway and skids into and over the 3 inch high barrier and into the crowd on the “plaza”

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Maybe the Japanese planted all the trees or something.

    Actually, the ginkgo trees that used to line Sejongno were planted by the Japanese. Or so I was told. They’ve been moved to the sides, at considerable expense. Or so I was told.

    I believe the object of the treeless plaza is to open up a better view of Gwanghwamun Gate, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Mt. Bugaksan.

  • http://www.korealawblog.com Brendon Carr

    I believe the object of the treeless plaza is to open up a better view of Gwanghwamun Gate, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Mt. Bugaksan.

    Perhaps, but the waves of heat shimmering from the paving stones tend to obscure the view.

  • MrMao

    Yes, they hate trees. But remember, this is the same country that had to flip a coin to decide whether or not to replace the traffic circle that used to cover Seoul City Hall Plaza with a) grass or b) enormous LCD video screens. Korea will have well-being WITHOUT nature!

  • SomeguyinKorea

    I simply don’t understand how wasting vasts amounts of electricity and water could be seen as an improvement.

    Like Brendon says, if they really were concerned with providing a place for pedestrians to cool down while beautifying the city, you’d think planting trees would have been the most obvious choice to make.

    ..Then again, this project probably wasn’t as much about urban renewal as it was about politics and nationalism.

    All that glitters isn’t gold, indeed.

  • Hatch SZ

    Is some kid giving himself an enema with the fountain jet?

  • http://www.theync.com/media.php?name=10918-full-late-term KrZ

    @9

    Reminded me of this when I saw it;

    http://www.threadbombing.com/data/media/57/2301.jpg

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Yes, they hate trees.

    Well, at Gwanghwamun they do. Outside of Gwanghwamun, though, they’re turning large swaths of the town into green zones. And Korea did pursue one of the most successful reforestation projects in human history.

    Is some kid giving himself an enema with the fountain jet?

    Yes, I’m afraid he is.

  • Arghaeri

    I think at this kind of location they do, due to tree litter issues, particulalry with the fountains etc.

    However, as Robert notes, on park projects they do seem to encourage grass, trees etc, Seoul Forest being an example.

  • kpmsprtd

    I would pay $40 U.S. if my friend and I could tear into the soondae and naengmyon right now. Both look scrumptious.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    This might sound stupid, but how do you get your photos to look so good? All the pictures seem to pop.

    The Nikon D300 performs well at night. I also set my colors at vivid.

  • cm

    Yes, they hate trees so much that they celebrate the Arbor Day holiday, then go out and plant trees. It makes perfect sense.

    “city workers torture and mutilate the wretched birches, it’s safe to say that Koreans hold a grudge against trees. ”

    What do you mean torture and mutilate? Could it be possibly have something to do with trying to control the pine tree disease that hit Seoul at the end of last year?

  • gbevers

    Gyeongbok Palace used to have a lot of cherry blossom trees, but since the trees were associated with the Japanese, Korea uprooted them a fews years back to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Korean liberation.

  • http://www.korealawblog.com Brendon Carr

    What do you mean torture and mutilate? Could it be possibly have something to do with trying to control the pine tree disease that hit Seoul at the end of last year?

    Except for the fact that the assault has been ongoing for the last 19 years that I’ve witnessed (good grief!), I’d say you might have a point. But the trees being tortured and mutilated aren’t pines, either.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Re torture and mutilate.

    I find the Korean manner of pruning trees odd, too – although it’s grown on me over the years. But it’s not uniquely Korean. The French do it to the trees in Paris, too. But I suppose it still remains to be seen whether it’s good for the trees. After all, the French also invented the guillotine.

  • http://adamsawry.wordpress.com Adams-awry

    Driving on those bricks is a fucking nightmare.

  • hardyandtiny

    When I was down there it looked as though the new gate and plaza are not going to be on axis. Anyone else notice this? Is the gate located to the left inside the construction block?

  • hardyandtiny

    They could have used some trees down near the admiral but I can understand leaving a wide open space in front of the gate.

    Move the US embassy….

  • cmm

    “Move the US embassy…”

    F that. The presence of the US Embassy, along the street that the (often anti-US) protestors gather for their retardedry, is a beautiful and constant F U to the (often anti-US) protestors. And a reminder of the good part of their history that they’d love to ungratefully forget.

  • cmm

    blockquote FAIL

  • H. Lagenberg

    It will only be a matter of time before someone sets fire to General Yi. That would actually be a great performance for Friday nights or something.

  • hardyandtiny

    Didn’t mind the US embassy in the past, but now it’s ruining the space, looks like shit, should be moved. The US doesn’t care, there’s nothing to prove to Korean protesters.

  • hardyandtiny

    If the gov got rid of the US Embassy and it’s twin building just to the north, and then turned that entire area in to a park with trees the place would be awesome.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    The US has been trying to move the embassy for what, 20 years? They keep getting jerked around by ROKGOV over the new location, including property already owned by USGOV, but which ROKGOV objects to its using on various grounds, generally — are you ready for it — historical preservation/restoration, while permitting commercial development on adjoining property that is equally, if not more, eligible for preservation on the same grounds.

  • t_song

    Great photos, but I can’t tell if that little girl is letting the light go up her skirt or the water.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Yeah, the USA has long wanted to build a 21st-Cen high-tech embassy in a better location (parking, security, landscaping & etc issues), but the Koreans keep blocking it for petty reasons. Its unfortunate current location doesn’t say anything to protestors; that’s childish jingoistic thinking.

  • NetizenKim

    Robert, you should feature yourself from time to time in your photos also.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Robert!

    Let me guess… tripod, white balance to sunlight, ISO at 400.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Looks like shutter at 1/4 to 1/2th and F-stop at 8 if not 11.

  • cmm

    “Its unfortunate current location doesn’t say anything to protestors; that’s childish jingoistic thinking.”

    Childish jingoistic thinking? Not really. My original comment was based on complaints I’ve heard from several Koreans–that they were angry/insulted that the US Embassy occupies such a prime location in Seoul. And, some of those who expressed this were of the ilk that were in 광화문 last summer protesting that disease-ridden US beef.

  • Arghaeri

    It’s a clear reminder of the imperialist oppressors, knock it down same as the Japanese-Governors builing across the road. ;-)

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Wangkon:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/68558939@N00/3825566250/meta/

    Did use a tripod for some of the shots.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Okay, right on shutter speed but pretty much wrong on everything else. You focused on Ch’ung-mu and not the crowd, that’s how you can make f 4.8 work.

  • dokdoforever

    I was also disappointed to find that they’d replaced those grand old ginko trees with a temporary flower display. They should have just left the trees, put the flowers at the base of the tree if they wanted flowers, added grass around the trees and a trail for people to walk on.

    I doubt that this was the product of any kind of popular referendum – most likely some bureaucrat who wanted to make his mark- pursuing change for the sake of change, rather than to improve the quality of life of Seoulites.

  • R. Elgin

    . . . I doubt that this was the product of any kind of popular referendum – most likely some bureaucrat who wanted to make his mark, pursuing change for the sake of change, rather than to improve the quality of life of Seoulites.

    LMB-wannabe . . .

Next post:

Previous post: