Seoul / Takin’ it to the streets

In Seoul, they sure know how to use streets and spaces to their fullest potential.  I guess that’s what makes it an amazing city – there is always so much going on and so much to engage you in the everyday machinations of the city.

Last year in Gangnam (a busy centre in the southern half of the city), the local council installed a number of interactive media poles along the main street.  To the street is a flashing advertising sign, but to the footpath is a screen for pedestrians to play with.  You can look up maps of the city and the subway system, take photos, send emails, all sorts of stuff …

It’s a trend that’s quickly catching on all over the city.  All subway stations are getting them, as are most new plazas and shopping centres.  And the screens are getting bigger … these ones in the downtown area allow you to write huge messages (selected from a list of course, including “happy birthday!” and “be strong!”) or to change the colour of the street lighting to your own preference.  Or to video the total strangers behind you…

Outdoor performances seem to be pretty popular too.  One night, on the corner just near our hotel, we were fortunate enough to see an impromptu performance by South Korea’s number one girl band, Girls’ Generation.


They must have been drawing attention to some kind of “issue” as the big screen behind them was showing footage of malnourished African kids.  To understand the absurdity of all this, check out the song they were performing (including perfectly synchronised dancing and lip movement) by following this link:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGbwL8kSpEk

I don’t know how they manage all that winking and wiggling!

Streets are also places of commerce (not just higher forms of artistic expression like Girls’ Generation).  In this neighbourhood of hardware stores, the footpaths have become the main space for retailing, with the tiny shops merely serving as overnight storage.

The streets were also full of coloured lanterns, a celebration of Buddha’s upcoming birthday.  Based on his cheery disposition and generous waistline, I think Buddha has started on the cakes a bit too early.

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2 Responses to Seoul / Takin’ it to the streets

  1. Nikkos says:

    That hardware neighbourhood looks ripe for a Bunnings invasion!

    • Funny, I haven’t seen a Bunnings anywhere … yet they say that China is becoming more advanced. Shanghai does have a huge Ikea, from which every single item in my apartment originated.

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