It is a city that had grown from half a million to 18 million in 60 years. The 1960s mayor, Kim Hyeon-ok called it “aggressive construction”: the development of the Metro system; the sequenced opening up of areas to develop as the population grew; how attention was turned to south of the Han river in the 1970s; and the impact of both the 1988 Olympic Games and the 2002 World Cup. It also showed how the late 19th century opening up to being a cosmopolitan city was cut off before it started by the military take-over of the country by Japan during which many of Korea’s own historical buildings were destroyed. This made sense of another of the tangles of ultra-modernity and the past, the need to recreate facsimilies of much of what had been destroyed.
John Barker reports on art, architecture and modernity from the post-dictatorship International Business Zones of Seoul and ‘Dynamic Busan’.