The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Tag: Songdo

Adventures in Korean urban design

Paju Bookcity

In Places, Shannon Mattern writes about Paju’s Bookcity, the architecturally spectacular publishing city you pass along the way to Heyri Art Village.

I love the place, and when the weather turns, I hope to do a photo essay up there. Still, from what I’ve heard, publishing folk haven’t been especially keen to commute to a wetland in the middle of nowhere. I’d like it, frankly, but I feel I’m in something of a minority on this.

CNN Go ran an article listing five reasons why you’d want to visit Paju Bookcity, including the wonderful Jijihyang Guesthouse.

Sejong City

The natives—or as close to what one would call “natives” in an artificial city—are getting restless in Sejong City:

Government employees are venting their frustration over the physical toll and inefficiency of working in Sejong City, a month after six government branches moved to the new administrative city some 136 kilometers (84 miles) south of Seoul that was created in an attempt to rebalance regional development.

About 4,000 government employees commute two hours each way to Sejong Government Complex because they have been unable to find adequate housing in the new city, which is still being built.

“My neck and waist are aching because of the four-hour commute, although it’s been only a month since I began commuting to Sejong by bus,” said a 48-year-old employee of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance on his way to the city yesterday.

Like President Lee Myung-bak—or private investors, for that matter—I thought Sejong City was a terrible idea, a Roh-era boondoggle. Unlike President Lee, I recognized it was a terrible idea passed with bipartisan support, and we’re living with the consequences. Now I feel about Sejong City the way I feel about the war in Afghanistan—we’ve sunk so much money into it, I can only hope it works out in the end.

What I’d never gotten was why anybody would want to build an administrative capital just outside of Daejeon when you have, well, Daejeon, a reasonably pleasant city of a million people with schools, roads, KTX connections, a subway and even its own Central Government Complex already in place. Doubly so after everyone saw the difficulties Songdo IBD was experiencing.

Speaking of Songdo IBD…

Wapo’s Travel section ran a piece on Songdo and its role as an aerotropolis.

The first photo of that piece, BTW, was taken by Kim Sungjin—if you don’t visit his photoblog, you’re missing out on some great stuff.

I recently took some photos in Songdo, too—see here, here and here.

Songdo lands secretariat of the Green Climate Fund (GCF)

Incheon’s Songdo district has become the first Korean city to play host to a major international organization:

Officials of Incheon, which governs Songdo International Business District, said Sunday that the size, influence and status of the GCF is much larger and higher than other international organizations which have been located in Korea so far.

“With the GCF secretariat, Incheon and Songdo will emerge as the center for international environment activities and environmentally-friendly technology,” a city official said.

He said by beating strong competitors Geneva and Bonn, the world has acknowledged Songdo’s competitiveness as an international business zone.

The mayor of Incheon must be especially excited:

“I’d say Songdo will then be able to emerge as an influential city such as New York City, where the U.N. is located,” he said.

Think big, my friend.

I love Songdo, and congratulate the city of Incheon for its success. And you have to admit, Songdo makes the perfect home for the GCF—if you’ve been to Songdo on a weekend, you already know that there’s no place on Earth outside of Antarctica with a lower carbon footprint.

Ye Olde Chosun has a story about Korea’s surprising bid victory, along with the usual stuff about how Ze Germans didn’t really take Korea seriously, blah blah. Of course, with Psy in the Koreans’ corner, the Germans never really had a chance:

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