Cheonggyecheon Stream (청계천)

Tuesday, 16 February 2016



After dinner, we went to see the Seoul Lantern Festival (서울빛초롱축제) at the Cheonggyecheon Stream (청계천), which is a 11km long man-made waterway that runs from the heart of downtown Seoul all the way to the Han River. It was originally formed during the Joseon Dynasty in order to provide drainage for the city, but after the Korean war in the 1950s, it became heavily polluted with rubbish and sewerage. It wasn't until 2003 when it was restored as part of an urban renewal project to transform Seoul into a modern and environmentally-friendly city. Now, it's a landmark that brings much pride to its citizens as a really leisurely public space for tourists and locals alike.



The Seoul Lantern Festival is held every year in early November and runs for 2 weeks. In 2015, it was held from 6 November to 22 November with lanterns on display from Cheonggye Plaza (청계광장) to Supyo Bridge (수표교)—about 1.2km in length. Maybe because it was the last day of the Festival when we went, but our visit wasn't nearly as enjoyable as it might have been because it was packed with people. Everyone was basically forced to walk along the stream in a line—which I know it was a way of controlling the crowd—but just wasn't fun there was always someone there to usher "walk along" if you're standing in one area for too long (like 30 seconds). But what made our visit even more inconvenient was the rain. (As if it wasn't already cramped enough, we needed umbrellas as well.) Also, our feet were killing us by the end of it—not because of the 1.2km walk, but the cumulative 28km we walked that day. (I don't think I've ever walked so much in a day before!)



The only time we saw Cheonggyecheon Stream again was when we were passing by it in Dongdaemun (동대문). Hopefully I can go visit it again during the day the next time I'm in Seoul. I just think it's a really lovely attraction because it's not often that you will find something so natural in a city landscape.

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