In Seoul, a bustling city that houses half of South Korea’s population, it’s hard to find a moment of peace. The street vendors, traffic, and summer heat are often too much for even the locals, which is why the city began a project in 2003 to dig out a stream that had previously been hidden under a freeway.
Cheonggycheon Stream is a 5.8 km stretch of grass, water and concrete paths where you can find joggers exercising and families going for walks. Located below street level, it feels like you’re a world away from the usual sounds and stress of the Korean capital. That said, you’re never far from the bustle, perhaps exemplified by the sprawling market that runs the entire length of the stream.
The stream’s walls are covered in Instagrammable street art, another sign of Seoul’s modernity.
This public space is above all a sign of the city’s transition to modern times, where sustainability and health are increasingly valued. City officials have carved out a sliver of peace for people to enjoy, a sort of Korean response to New York’s Central Park—albeit much smaller. The stream’s walls are covered in Instagrammable street art, another sign of Seoul’s modernity.
Regardless if you’re visiting to the South Korean capital for pleasure or sheer necessity, Cheonggyecheon is a recommended stop. If you’re looking for shopping and street food, though, you’ll have to head back to the streets.