Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Archive for the ‘South Korea’ Category

Seoul, South Korea

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Before moving to New York, I lived in a place where is surrounded by other many high-story apartments or buildings, a mess amount of cars that bothered me every night with the noisy horn and roaring engine sound, huge grocery markets and department stores, and beautiful arch bridge crossing over a road. Yes, I lived in the middle of city of Seoul in Korea.

In the middle of noisiness, the neighborhood where I belonged was quite peaceful not just because I lived in 19th floor and could barely hear sound such as disgruntled noisy kids on a street and bus noisy stop sound with pulling up, engines idling, air released, and driving away from outside that I frequently hear in here, New York, but also because people who lived around my house are friendly and usually more have an intimacy in relationship. I might feel that way, perhaps, because there were some similarities between the people and me in terms of cultural background, religion maybe, race, and ethnicity.

There are other elements beyond the feeling about my original place. The physical appearance of the place and neighborhood where I had lived before I came here, and the environment around the neighborhood also affect to form a sense of feeling as one of the factors that make differences between living in the place in New York and the place in Korea.

As my past neighborhood in my country represents, a way of the arrangement of buildings is not clearly organized along with street and avenue that is pretty different from the houses which are lined up in a row in the current neighborhood where I’m living. If someone looks down New York City from the airplane or from the top of skyscraper such as Empire State Building, they might notice that thousands of buildings are organized by and the lined up that looks like chess board which consists of exact same squares in order, and because of the arranged building, people can even point out their house from a height. The neighborhood where I used live in Korea, whereas, it usually hard to find a certain place because it is usually hidden by other tall buildings. The messy arrangement of building, however, is not a matter to live in the neighborhood, although I’m one of the people who care about urban planning, because I prefer to do laundry in my building rather than going outside with holding up 2 pounds of laundry and walking down the street toward laundry room. In other words, I would like to live in convenient life which means living with many stores or other facilities around my place that allow me to get some enjoyment and convenience from the environment.

It seems like the place in my country is the best place to live in, but the neighborhood has something missed element when I compare the place to the place in New York. There is a lack of personality including youthful and artistic factors in my past neighborhood. Every day I passed by colorful, artistic, sometimes messed up moral art that represent someone’s personality or ability to draw. That kind of artistic element in everywhere forms a personality in my neighborhood in New York.

Sent by Anne from Seoul

Seoul

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Seoul is my hometown. I was born and raised in Seoul. I have lived there more than 20 years and haven’t lived in other cities in Korea. There is everything in Seoul. You can buy everything in the middle of the night and it is safe to go out in the night. There are tons of restaurants, theaters and big malls everywhere in the city. Seoul is the most crowd city among OECD countries. So there is heavy traffic all over the city. You can hear noise honking sound all day. It is not a good place to enjoy drive your car, such as in California. There are numerous high rise buildings. Just like New York City, Seoul has plenty of skyscrapers, especially in office district. Those are densely located.

What I don’t like about my hometown, Seoul, is the building covered with ugly signs. They don’t match with a building or other signs in the building. In Seoul, most of the citizens live in apartment buildings, which are more than 10 stories higher. And they are in complex structures with free parking space provide to residences for free. Seoul is the capital city of Korea. Although it is not the biggest city in Korea, its scale is the biggest in Korea. Every public offices and government buildings are located in or near Seoul. Koreans are kind and nice people. Seoulian, people who live in Seoul, just like New Yorker, are nice people but people in suburb are friendlier than people live in the city. I guess this is because they are busy of their own activity and surroundings.

Seoul has great transportation system. It doesn’t run 24 hours, but you can take taxis after midnight. You can go wherever you want with public transportation system. It is cheap, convenient, and safe. You can transfer bus to subway or to different line without any charge. Moreover, if you get on bus or subway in 30 minutes, you can ride it without any charge. So you don’t need car to live in Seoul.

Seoul is also eco-friendly city. Like Central Park in New York, there are huge park in Yeoui-island. There are big river called Han River cut across the city. People should do recycling and it is a law. And you should use legalized bag for trashes. Every bus is run by natural gas engine. There is a stream called Cheongye and redeveloped five years ago. It had been covered by cements over forty years and uncovered by last mayor of Seoul, who is now the president of Korea.

The roads in Seoul are not organized so it is hard to find only with address, especially for foreigners. It is not organized in straight or square shaped. There are small branch roads and crooked roads, too. So you need to know the transportations to get there.

Now, there are 250 thousands foreigners in Seoul. It is very diverse city with many races. Comparing to New York City, two cities have many similar things. They both got what big cities should have and shares many things, such as heavy traffic, tall buildings, and great transportation system. And now, both cities are working on sustainability and green movement. I have many things to say when I talk about Seoul because it is my home. Still, there are few things that I don’t like about it by comparing to other cities, like New York, such as ugly signs and lack of consideration to foreigners. Those things are my new findings after I live in New York.

Sent by In from Seoul