Friday 12 October 2018

Walking the Seoullo in Seoul, South Korea

I was hosted on this visit by the Korea Tourism Organisation.

On my last day in Seoul I made my way by bus to the western entrance of Seoullo 7017.

This cool-sounding name denotes the city's answer to New York's High Line... in this case though, it's a former freeway flyover which has been given the beauty treatment.

Walking east, the ramp slopes upward above the streets, and here I discovered a wealth of plant life in circular pots. There were also small structures that acted as shops and stages.

Here and there I also found art, and recreational equipment. The first image below is of the interior of a tiny gallery, the second of a small enclosed trampoline.

There was also plenty of evidence of the railway which the flyover was originally built to avoid. Below I could see rails, and the occasional train passing.

Just a short distance to the south was the attractive facade of the original Seoul railway station. It was built in 1925 during the period of Japanese occupation, and is now a cultural centre.

Further west there was more greenery, and shady spots to sit and rest. As it was a public holiday it was quieter than usual, and surprisingly tranquil there in the heart of the city.

I sat and reflected that Seoul, having built up its big modern commercial heart in the late 20th century, is now taking time to add human touches to the steel and concrete - such as the newly uncovered and beautified Chonggyecheon stream which I wrote about in 2014.

Eventually the walkway terminated, conveniently right above Hoehyeon station on the Seoul Metro.

I'd been impressed by Seoul's new linear park, and by the number of residents who used it the day I took my stroll. It's a great asset to the city.

And if you're wondering about the name 'Seoullo 7017', I later found out that curious number refers both to 1970, when the flyover was opened, and to 2017 when it reopened as a walkway.

There are also, as it happens, 17 entrances to the path, and it crosses the railway tracks at a height of 17 metres. It may be just another prime number, but 17 gets star billing in Seoul.

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