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Status of the Seoul Station Overpass and its Management

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Meanings of the Seoul Station Overpass in the Aspects of Humanity and Sociology

The Seoul Station Overpass and Life in Seoul

From a specialty to a monstrosity, from a solution to a troublesome

It can be said that the Seoul Station Overpass has shown a similar traces with those of the other general overpasses in the life of Seoul. It went through two periods; it was a symbol of urban modernization as well as a solution for the urban problems in the end of the 1960s when many elevated bridges began to be constructed in Seoul but it became a ‘monstrosity’ spoiling the appearance of the city and a ‘troublesome’ causing urban problems.

The notion that overpasses were the solution for the traffic congestion problems and the symbol of urban modernization served as the basis for building the elevated bridges in the end of the 1960s. But it became the subjects of suspicion in public when turning to the 1980s. In 1980, the Transportation Research Institute diagnosed 10 overpass roads in Seoul to get the results that they did not affect the traffic or disrupts the traffic flow rather than helping it. The announcement may be recorded as the initial case that motivated reconsideration of the existing main idea of the overpass in earnest.

As safety problems of the overall overpasses in Seoul were raised in the 1980s and safety diagnosis and large scaled repair constructions were carried on repeatedly in the 1990s, we could not stick to the reasons for being of the overpassed we had in the end of the 1960s. The overpasses became the very urban problem itself, not any more the solution for it. Entering the 2000s, Lee Myung-bak, a former mayor at that time, admitted the transformed negative images of the overpass. It can be said that the Seoul Station Overpass was also in the same transition process sharing the common aspects of general approach to the overpasses.

A place to be seen as well as a place to see

As a place to be seen, the Seoul Station Overpass as a symbol of modernization was not only a specialty of Seoul but also a troublesome spoiling the appearance of the city. However, it was a place to see something, as well.

As the other usual overpasses, it was a place where you can see what you cannot see on the ground. In the perspective of the overpass, it witnessed and held important historical events, and welcomed the pedestrians having participated in such events. As a place to see, the particular role of the Seoul Station Overpass was to serve for the people who witnessed, recorded or participated in the historical events that happened around it (such as IMF financial crisis, the Seoul Station Rally of the students to ask for democratization, etc.)

A place to pass as well as a place to connect

The Seoul Station Overpass took the role of connecting the downtown and Namdaemun market area to the western area of Seoul Station which was disconnected due to the railway facilities of Seoul Station.

Jungnim-dong lamp and Cheongpa-dong lamp on the Seoul Station Overpass were completed in 1970 and the extension construction to the direction of Mallijae was completed in 1975, which implies the impact of the Seoul Station Overpass on the industrial ecosystem. The overpass as ‘a place to connect’ had taken the roles of connecting the small sized sewing factories in the areas of Malli-dong, Cheongpa-dong and Seogye-dong to Namdaemun market and Dongdaemun market for a long time.
The concern of the residents in those areas was about the role that the Seoul Station Overpass as an industrial heritage played since the 1970s~1980s in the life of Seoul to connect the two regions, in other words, the factories and the markets, which implies the historical significance of the overpass.