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Impacts on Environment & Anticipation

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Impacts on Environment & Anticipation06

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Title Impacts on Environment & Anticipation
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Material Type Report
Date 2015
Language Korean
File Type Theme
Subject Territorial Development


Sub-Theme 4 | Impacts on Environment & Anticipation##3D_LAYER##[9]##3D_TEXT:Complete recovery of stream processes and functions is often impossible to achieve due to irreversible catchment changes and socio-economic dependence on water resources and management. However, a stream would be dynamic and have a remarkable ability to spur revitalization. The aim of the CRP was to assist this recovery and increase resilience by addressing hydrological, morphological, biological, chemical and societal issues within the catchment along the stream in central Seoul. The restoration project changed Cheonggyecheon to an eco-friendly, human-friendly public space downtown with historical significance and potential for continuing growth.##3D_LAYER_END## 


Environmental Impacts


The project is also aimed at creating a people-oriented eco-friendly urban space, thereby ensuring harmonious coexistence of people and nature. The Cheonggye Elevated Expressway and aging buildings in the neighborhood were identified as the sources of air and noise pollution. After the stream had been covered with concrete, the nearby sewage channels were not well maintained. As a result, the neighborhood suffered lingering odors from sewage backflow. These problems prompted calls for action aimed at improving living conditions in the area. Against this backdrop, it became necessary to resuscitate Cheonggyecheon, the core of Seoul’s ecological system, and foster an ecological park along the waterway. The proposal for this project aimed at eventually establishing a people-centric and environment-friendly paradigm for urban development, and additionally providing Seoul residents with the benefit of comfortably enjoying their leisure time at spaces built in an ecology-friendly manner along the stream.


Monitoring after Restoration


The CRP removed a street and elevated expressway to restore an urban stream. As of this printing, no related traffic crisis has emerged in contrast to the expectations of some transportation specialists opposed to the project. There was no significant level of service (LOS) fall even in the downtown area where the construction had been taking place, and only 1.3% of downtown residents complained about worsening traffic. Subway usage increased 3.6% overall in Seoul, while the traffic volume plunged a significant level.


Air quality and temperature readings downtown have already shown noticeable improvement. A cool air mass has formed along the stream, which has led to a 50% increase in average wind speed compared to last year. The fastest wind recorded reached 3m/sec in the summer of 2005. In addition, beyond the previous temperature estimation of 0.3–0.8°C fall with the restored stream, a recent study revealed that the temperature recorded a 3°C degree drop in the summer of 2005.


Because of the reduced traffic, the estimate of economic value of air pollution reduction will reach up to KRW 40 billion (USD 37 million) per year in Seoul.##3D_LAYER##[10]##3D_TEXT:A survey of citizens showed that each household was willing to pay KRW 103,000 per year (USD 94) in the form of a compulsory tax to support these environmental improvements. This amount adds up to KRW 356.2 billion per year for all of Seoul, and approximates the total restoration cost of KRW 390 billion.##3D_LAYER_END## The conflict with merchants was settled amicably. About 7,000 merchants decided to move to a new business park prepared by Seoul City, and at least 25% of the businesses located around Cheonggyecheon expressed plans to either change their type of business or relocate to other business sites.


Through this restoration project, the business environment of the Cheonggyecheon area was greatly improved and its industrial structure was reorganized, contributing to a booming downtown economy. According to a study monitoring real estate price fluctuations downtown, the land value increased 30% on average, and soared up to 100% especially in the redevelopment site as well as in the inner city “Newtown” sites. The rent for commercial buildings increased 5% on average, while corresponding prices in the upscale Gangnam area remained unchanged. When the full-fledged redevelopment comes into action, the direct economic impact of capital investment is expected to reach up to KRW 22 trillion (USD 20 billion.


Following its opening Oct. 1, 2005, Cheonggyecheon attracted 100 billion visitors within 50 days. Cheonggyecheon became the most attractive tourist attraction in Seoul as well as in the old city center. It also helped trigger Gangbuk’s regeneration project called‘Newtown in town.’ Because of the massive inflow of visitors, the old core has been resurrected as the center of Seoul. Businesses are booming, real estate prices are skyrocketing, and redevelopment is now going on in many sites.##3D_LAYER##[11]##3D_TEXT:The growth rate in rent and land prices around Cheonggyecheon seems significantly higher than average, indicating that the value of investing in downtown Seoul and the Cheonggyecheon area was improving at a fast pace thanks to the CRP. Such a phenomenon contributes to the city’s policy goal of addressing the imbalance between the Gangnam and Gangbuk districts. However. it has also resulted in negative impacts on low-income business owners. The City of Seoul is making efforts to assist them to relocate to other area by providing financial support.##3D_LAYER_END## Eventually, this stream restoration project will provide an opportunity for Seoul to be transformed into a hub city for Northeast Asia and an international finance center, and most importantly help achieve a balanced growth between the northern and southern parts of Seoul.


Social Learning Process & Implication


1) Evaluation


① Transformation of the urban paradigm: domestic

The Cheonggyecheon Restoration Program was not simply recovery of a natural stream by a local government. It has changed the paradigm across many fields, helping Seoul, the face of South Korea, become a more eco-friendly city where people come first. With the success of this program, the City of Seoul took one step closer to becoming a regional hub and financial center for Northeast Asia.


• Pedestrian/public transit-orientation

The restoration was a major driver behind the transportation policy paradigm shift from a supply/vehicle-oriented approach to one that is more people/public transit-oriented.


• Spread of the urban restoration movement with a focus on waterways

Restoration programs began to focus on rivers with the start of the Cheonggyecheon restoration and soon led to efforts to restore other streams, such as Seongbukcheon, Jeongneungcheon, and Hongjecheon. Moreover, studies were begun in earnest to restore all other streams in Seoul with a particular focus on the environment. The effect of the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Program on the improvement of urban waterways was not confined to Korea. Many major cities around the world were positively affected. From Tokyo, local experts and city councilmen visited Cheonggyecheon to gain ideas for their plan to restore Shibuya Stream. Civic groups, experts, and administrative officials from Osaka also benchmarked Cheonggyecheon for their “City of Water” project which utilizes streams, rivers, and the ocean.


• Sustainable balanced development of Gangbuk and Gangnam

The CRP’s success led to a gradual revival of Gangbuk spreading out from the stream, which is noteworthy. The changes near the stream include: (1) increased rent and land prices; (2) increased lot sales of apartment units; and (3) changing commercial arcades from a dilapidated concentration of shops into a redeveloped district.


② Achievements of the CRP program: overseas

• Birth of the new Korean Wave

The social effect from such a great transformation as the stream restoration attracted the attention of city officials around the world. In particular, Japan analyzed Cheonggyecheon’s history thoroughly and decided to use it to spark a revival in political leadership and social reform that had been sluggish due to the bursting of an economic bubble in the past decade.


From January 2003 to the end of 2004, the number of countries who sent representatives to visit the Cheonggyecheon exhibition center reached 19, many of whom were from Japan, China, and the U.S. A total of 2500 official visitors arrived for 120 different visits. By continent, Asia accounted for the majority – 92 visits from 9 countries – at 88% of the total, followed by 7 from the EU (7%), and 5 from the US (5%). Analysis of the nature of the visiting groups from Japan indicated that the visit was more than a simple tour; they visited with special interest, to use the visit for a thorough analysis.


2) Future Challenges


① New start after the CRP

The CRP was completed in September 2005, but this represented a new beginning rather than the end. Upstream of Cheonggyecheon, Baegundong and Jungnang streams could also be restored to connect to the source of Cheonggyecheon, while interest has grown in restoring a dozen tributaries on either side of the stream. The restoration program will only be fully completed when the natural waterways of Seoul are identified and widened to allow Cheonggyecheon stream to run naturally.


② Seoul, a global eco-friendly city

The CRP was designed according to three major axes of time: history (tradition), culture (modernity), and nature (future). Over time, the restored stream will be abundant with natural flora, offering Seoul a natural ecosystem at the heart of the city.


③ Modern but traditional Seoul

Reduction in noise and pollution completes the requirements for a residential area. With the addition of other facilities (e.g., shopping, educational, cultural and recreational), an urban residential area can easily meet the demands of both the younger and older generations, the elderly, and foreign residents. Reborn as a new city, Seoul will be able to breathe vitality into the old, fatigued city center, encourage balanced regional development, and become a global city that exudes a 600-year old historical charm, tradition, and culture as well as financial and economic vivacity.


④ Korean brand: Cheonggyecheon

The commercial districts around Cheonggyechen comprise a business district in Mugyo-dong, an electronics/communications and redevelopment district at Sewun Arcade, and a clothing/fashion district in Dongdaemun. Up and running for 24 hours a day, these districts will redefine the key functions of the city. The commercial districts around the stream will go through industrial restructuring, logistical improvements, and e-commerce transformation to become one of the most competitive centers of business in the 21st century. In the future, Cheonggyecheon will be improved far beyond its presence existence as a simple stream to become the brand that represents South Korea.


3) External Evaluation of the CRP


① New globalized Korean wave

The New Korean Wave, kindled by the success of the CRP, is unique in its global reach. At the 9th Venice Biennale in Italy, newspapers such as La Nuova and Gazzettino explained in detail why the Cheonggyecheon program won "The Best Public Administration Award," adding that the city’s intervention in changing the waterfront scene breathed life into Seoul.


The success of the program helped make Seoul the choice of the WHO (World Health Organization)’s designated Healthy City in 2004. Such international attention on the CRP seems to be one of the signs that the “Korean Wave,” which until then had mainly spread only within Asia, was finding a home in other regions of the world as well. Just as South Korean corporations like Samsung, LG, and POSCO are enjoying increased influence in world markets, this new trend is likely to be the touchstone for Seoul’s competitiveness as a global city.


② Overseas accolades: Venice International Architecture exhibition 2004 ##MORE_LAYER_BOX##International Media Attention:

1) Award, Cities on Water, the 9th Venice Architecture Biennale (Sep. 12, 2004)

2) Award, the Civil Engineering Conference in the Asian Region (July 3, 2007)

3) Environmental Award, Japan Society of Civil Engineers in 2006 (May 25, 2007)

4) Honorary Special Citation Award, UN Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Program) in 2009

5) Reuters, UK (Oct. 1, 2005): The covered stream was restored as part of the city’s environmental projects.

6) Asahi Shimbun, Japan (Oct. 1, 2005): Seoul city center, alive with a stream – old overpass removed

7) Sina, China (Oct. 2, 2005): Cheonggyecheon Stream is officially opened

8) Sam, Taiwan (Oct. 2, 2005): Seoulites celebrate the restoration of Cheonggyecheon Stream

9) AP, USA (Oct. 3, 2005): Seoul restores its covered river after 50 years

10) Le Figaro, France (Oct. 12, 2005): Seoul, in the midst of a new war...”11) NHK, Japan (Oct. 30, 2005): “Live report from Cheonggyecheon Stream##MORE_LAYER_BOX_END## 

The CRP was invited to be showcased at the Venice International Architecture Exhibition, an internationally authoritative exhibition of culture and art. It was an apt opportunity to promote Seoul’s proud history, culture, and the city’s willingness to restore its urban ecosystem. At the event, the program won Best Public Administration (featured by Italian TV and radio stations, as well as the UK’s BBC), reconfirming the world’s interest in the restoration.  ##MORE_LAYER_BOX## Select International Media Coverage:


Media Outlet Date Description
Yonhap News



06. 26

- Focus on the leadership of Mayor Lee behind the Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration Program

- Shift from development-oriented approach to a sustainable, environmentally-friendly paradigm through the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Program

International Herald Tribune 2003.

07. 02

- Start of the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Program. Seoul, a city with brand value

- Resolution of traffic and vendor conflicts via promotional activities and discussion-

- A program with a greater focus on the environment and the economy at the same time


07. 11

- Interviews on the restoration program with the Seoul Mayor, a Munhwa Daily reporter (Kim Yong-ok), and vendors near the Stream.

- Transformation from an industrial city to an eco-friendly city. A new “green” city is born

World Today Asia

BBC News


07. 16

- Start of the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Program: changing into a beautiful, eco-friendly city

- No city that disregards the importance of the environment can be a global city

Radio France Internationale


05. 09

- Introduction to Seoul, priority environmental issues, and a full-scale urban readjustment project that has entered its execution stage

- Environmental policies that consider both environment and economy

Financial Times


05. 22

- Seoul, polluted with exhaust, undergoes a green revolution; an interview with the mayor

- Charming Seoul, a good city to live: about the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Program, Seoul’s green projects, etc.

CNBC "Asia Market Warp" and "Business Center" (U.S.) 2004.

07. 02

- Interview with the mayor on the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Program.

Xinmin Weekly


11. 01

- Mayor Lee Myung-bak: a former CEO runs Seoul like a company

- Cheonggyecheon Restoration Program based on collection of various opinions and discussion

- No more ordinary projects

TV Asahi

Broadcasting Station (Japan)

10. 21

- The back alleys of Seoul, the starting point of the Korean Wave

Asahi Shimbun


12. 21

- The Cheonggyecheon Restoration Program as part of environmental and city redevelopment programs

- Nature comes alive in Seoul

Sankei Shimbun


12. 29

- Cheonggyecheon: symbol of a new environmentally friendly city to be restored by October 2005.

- Winner of the Best Public Administration Award in 2004 at the Venice International Architecture Exhibition, well-known in urban planning and construction

Yomiuri Shimbun


01. 13

- The restoration program is featured in the “Trend” section

- The restoration program serves as a role model for restoration of Nihonbashi

- Cheonggyecheon stream, viewed from the perspective of the Korean Wave (other than on TV and in film)