In northern Seoul there’s an 11 km long stream called Cheonggyecheon running right through the middle of downtown. The stream has been flowing through Seoul since the city’s first days but it was covered over following the Korean War and it wasn’t until 2003 that Cheonggyecheon was redeveloped into its current form. Today it’s a pleasant place for a stroll and taking a break from the busy urban environment of the city.
Towards the west end, near Cheonggye Plaza, the banks of the stream are lined with concrete steps and you’ll normally see people hanging out in this area. Above this part of Cheonggyecheon Stream are rows of green umbrellas that are part of a charitable campaign to help children in Africa get clean water. Each umbrella has a placard attached to it with the name of a donor on one side and a child’s drawing on the other. A two-tier waterfall marks the starting point of the stream and it was there that I returned to street-level and continued on to other parts of Seoul.
Fun fact: if you’re like me and you’ve played Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare you’ll find the west end of Cheonggyecheon Stream to be strangely familiar because the final area of the game’s first mission takes place there. Thankfully there were no North Korean soldiers or swarms of deadly drones when I visited.