chapter  6
21 Pages

Flowing Back To The Future: The Cheonggye Stream Restoration

A mass gathering in the public plaza is one of the most cherished national spectacles. A history of the public plaza narrates a collective story of the nation – how it came to be, why certain things happened in the course of history and what consequences these may have for us. In narrating national realities and dreams, the plaza sets a stage for the shared experience of the nation. As a space with imagined and physical boundaries, it has been used by various ideological backgrounds. Liberal states have promoted the public plaza as much as the fascist states of Germany and Italy and the socialist states of China and North Korea. For a country that seeks to portray itself as a democratic society, the pubic plaza carries such a potential to realize freedom, openness and greatness of the nation. In the advanced capitalist world, the public plaza has also become a site for the concentration of spectacles designed to create attractive imageries of the place oriented to the neoliberal political economy and at the same time to remedy social problems resulting from it. The radical reconstruction of the image of Seoul through the new waterfront is an interesting case in point.