15 August 2007

15/8: 광복절! (korean independence day)

celebrating 62 years post-japanese colonization (photo by robert koehler at the marmot's hole.)

i love seoul, but it lacks the caliber of well-planned, aesthetically pleasing landmarks found in other great cities. one of my (many) sim city-inspired fantasies is to see seoul transformed by dozens of new, gorgeous civic spaces that celebrate korea via provocative art. cheonggyecheon aside, finances, bureaucracy and ornery ajushi make this impossible.

until miracles happen, city hall will make do. built during japanese occupation, it's flanked by doeksu palace (built in the mid-1500s), highrises with neon signs of korean companies and a nice big lawn. together i think they do a nice job of recalling korea's past and present.

there's always something interesting going on there, be it concerts or protests, and today it was blanketed in pink to celebrate 광복절, or korean independence day. decorated with renderings of hibiscus cyriacus, better known to koreans as 무궁화 and to anglophones as the rose of sharon, it's korea's national flower. besides being pretty, its name, "moogung-wha", is similar to the korean word for immortality. 62 years after bidding adieu to japanese colonial oppression, the flower is an apt symbol of korean tenacity and perseverance.

someone needs to resign over this.

but look what i just found: the ghastly 21-story glass addendum being built adjacent to the current structure. in a unique part of seoul that needed just one or two buildings to bring it all together, how does this abomination help integrate the area? did i leave one city that equated ugly glass boxes as good architecture (seattle) for another? or perhaps, it's a fitting spokesbuilding for the equally unfortunate "korea, sparkling" tourism slogan i complained about a few months back?

update 3/24/2008: apparently this design for city hall didn't make the cut. a post on the winning bid here.

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