I had the opportunity to visit South Korea
back in October for the first time since 1987. It was a visit to a country that is in complete contrast with its past, a trip to an area that has completely rebuilt itself from the rubbles of a devastating war into one of the world's most powerful economies, from a nation dependent on others for assistance to one that now exports so much to the world, both materialistic and in kind. The differences between urban and rural were stark, with white, branded towers spread amongst the landscape adjacent to empty, moistened rice paddy fields, and consumerism and fashion taking precedence over agriculture and simplicity.
I grew up in a mixed-ethnicity household. My mother, who is Korean, grew up in the countryside near Seoul and later migrated out to the United States in the 1970s when the nation was under dictatorship. My father is half-German and half-Irish. How they met in Ashland, Kentucky
is still a mystery.
I knew very little to no Korean going over to Seoul, and was given the impression that navigating around Seoul would be fairly easy. That part was true, and within a day, I had familiarized myself with the subways and buses that radiated from where we were staying at in the Gireum neighborhood of Seongbuk district. After catching up on some rest, I spent the better part of an afternoon attending a wedding in Digital Media City in the Sangam neighborhood of the Mapo
district of Seoul
. Located along the Han River, Mapo is known for its Hongdae club district, Hongik University and Seoul World Cup Stadium.
: A view eastward from Nanjido towards the Seoul World Cup Stadium and Seongsan.
: Apartment high-rises in the Susaek neighborhood of the adjoining Eunpyeong district.
Digital Media City, a dedicated high-tech complex in the Sangam neighborhood, and is the first such dedicated complex in the world that is home to ubiquitous networked offices, residences and cultural attractions.
The land for Digital Media City was formerly home to the Nanjido landfill from 1978 to 1993. Nanjido had grown to a height of 95 meters and over 2 kilometers long with an accumulated weight of over 120 million tons, and was accepting up to 3,000 truckloads of waste per day. After the landfill was closed due to environmental concerns along the nearby Han River, stabilization projects were begun in 1996 to reinforce the slopes that were in danger of collapsing. Methane gas collection facilities were constructed and later used to heat the Seoul World Cup Stadium and the Sangam housing developments.
The area by the landfill was designed as a housing development zone in March 1997, and formally announced as a “New Soul Town Development” by Mayor Goh Kun in July 1998. Planning began a month later and a master plan was established for what became known as Millennium City/Sangam New Millennium Town. The focus for the new development was information and ecology, evolving to evoke the design principles of sustainable construction and development and technology.
Digital Media City will be home to the second tallest building in the world when the 133-floor, 2,100-foot Digital Media City Landmark Building is completed in April 2015.
: Digital Media City.
: A view from Digital Media City with the Susaek neighborhood in the background.
: A view from Nanjido with the Susaek neighborhood in the background.
: A view eastward from Nanjido towards the Hapjeong neighborhood.
: Nanjido has been redeveloped into a 2.8 million square-meter park consisting of five different themes. The following were taken from Hanuel Park.
It was a quiet drive back to the apartment that night. The excitement had died down and some of us in the vehicle - like myself, were jet lagged after a 13 hour flight. Good night!
I'll be updating this thread with commentary and photos as I go along - so pin this and keep watch!