Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Seoul Goes from Gray To Green, Drab to Sparkling Design

The world's most wired country, and the 11 largest economy is still highly under-rated, and largely overlooked. That is set to change, starting with Seoul's designation as the world's first Design Capital in 2010, and driven by two dynamic Korean leaders in particular: Seoul's mayor (once an environmental activist) and Seoul's president (known locally as 'The Bulldozer').

Seoul is an impressive city by some standards. It holds around half of Korea's population of 50 million, it has 1000 metre high mountains planted in and around the city, somewhat in the style of Cape Town. The city also has a 600 year old history, with vast palaces and gardens sprinkled between the dense urban village.

But it is not all good - Seoul is not one the world's most beautiful city scapes. The pollution of the South Korean capital is probably its greatest handicap.

The good news is this is about to change. Billions of Dollars are being challenged into a new initiative - to make the urban environments 'softer', more livable, and also 'greener'. The mayor was reported to be very unhappy to discover that Seoul's attractiveness as a destination was found to be below Helsinki's (in Finland). Radical (and ambitious) plans are now in place to boost Seoul's global image - the goal is to make the city a 'global city' - a top 10 global destination.

There is certainly a lot of work to be done to achieve this, and the mayor's plans are appropriately grandiose. Among the developments include a 152 storey tear shaped building in a waterfront/green corridor area, the Han River Rennaissance Project, and major investments into developing foreign communities already present in Seoul.

Watch this space for more elaborate details, and a closer look at Korea's efforts to make Seoul into cleaner, greener,truly world class Global City.

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