[Blog] Places in Korea – Cheonggyecheon Stream (청계천)

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서울 (Seoul) is much like any other major metropolis: a TON of traffic, people, and tall buildings. However, running right through the heart of the city is a little piece of nature called 청계천 (Cheonggyecheon). With 다리 (bridges), 징검다리 (stepping stones), and an impressive 폭포 (waterfall), this nearly 11km flow of water that runs from east to west has witnessed Seoul’s transformation throughout its 600+ years as the capital of Korea.

In 1394, during the Joseon Dynasty, King 태조 (Taejo) decided to move the 수도 (capital) of Korea to 한양 (Hanyang), the former name of 서울 (Seoul). The capital city grew around the stream, separating the northern and southern parts of the city. Back then, 청계천 was known as 개천, which literally means “open stream” or “creek” and became part of 서울의 sewage system. The stream was fed by tributaries that flowed down from the mountains which surrounded the city, thus was often bone-dry in the spring and fall, but frequently overflowed/flooded during the summer rainy season.

청계천 starts at 청계천 Plaza and stretches 8 kilometers to 살곶이공원 (Salgoji Park).

[The spiral cone shape statue that you can see in 청계천 Plaza.]

At 청계천 Plaza, there are always lot of events going on, from small open concerts to exhibitions. The closest subway station to this area is 광화문 (Gwang-hwa-mun) station.

Renaissance of History and Culture (restoration)

This fountain was designed by Swedish sculptor Claes Oldenburg and is aptly titled “Spring.” The 20-meter high sculpture was unveiled in 2005 and “…was designed to embrace the environment and nature by including water and light to feature the significance of the stream’s restoration” (joongangdaily.com)

On steamy summer nights (or any other night) in Seoul, people gather at 청계천 to hang out and cool off. Coming to the stream is as much of a cultural activity as it is temporary relief from the sweltering heat of Seoul summers.

The waterfall is just one of the many great attractions of the restored 청계천 area. There is shopping nearby at 명동 (Myeongdong), as well as the Chinese Embassy, 광화문 (Gwanghwamun), Seoul City Hall, and many street food vendors!! If you find yourself hungry while visiting Cheonggyecheon, fear not!! You can eat to your heart’s content!

The natural environment of the stream is accompanied by beautiful drawings, photos, musicians, and twinkling lights in the winter time.

The gentle flow of Cheonggycheon downtown Seoul draws citizens and visitors alike. Coming to Cheonggyecheon is as much of a cultural activity as it is a temporary relief from the sweltering heat of Seoul summers. Cheonggyecheon is a great place to hang out with friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, or family!

Cheonggyecheon Plaza is roughly a 2,500 square meter area located at the starting point of 청계천. The square, created based on the design of Korean traditional 보자기 (a colorful cloth used for wrapping), features the elegant beauty of traditional stonework that is colorful, yet tasteful

Whether you’re taking a stroll along the water, viewing the stream from the street above, or sticking your feet into the clear flow, you are experiencing an incredible amount of Korean history.

Written by: Stephanie Morries
Photography by: Hyunwoo Sun


  • http://www.sweettidings.blogspot.com Christy

    I always see this gorgeous place in k-dramas! It just looks so dreamy at night! Wish I could visit this sweet spot someday.

  • Megan

    This looks amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gabriela-Bernal/1698118859 Gabriela Bernal

    거기 한 번 가 봐야겠죠~
    사진에 아주 멋져 보여거든요 :)

  • Frank

    You said “Coming to the stream is as much of a cultural activity as it is temporary relief from the sweltering heat of Seoul summers” twice.

  • http://no Edward

    Such an amazing place.

  • Francis

    Is that where Kyeongeun-ssi shot the video of her 7 random Korean words?

    Very beautiful. I would like to see it personally.

  • myra

    what a lovely place… ^_^

  • rigo

    Very lovely place
    Nice pictures

  • Nina

    One of the most amazing places there in Korea …the first place that i will visit it when i will be there …so beautiful ^__^

  • Inna

    Really beautiful! It’s really worth seeing!
    Thank you for this interesting article with awesome pictures!!!

  • Saba

    It’s really beautiful~lovely~pretty~
    The pictures were awesome~
    Thanks

  • Googims

    I think I saw this place in K-Drama Lie To Me (the only thing that interested me from that drama) and I was curious where this was located….

  • Din

    이 장소에 가고 싶어요, 하루.

  • NurDd Violetz

    i’d been here last september…really miss this place..love it so much!!

  • CM

    Thanks for the brief history and description of Cheonggyecheon Stream and Plaza. I was there in the summer of 2011. It is true that it is really relaxing just to watch the water flow by. Because my hotel was very close, I was able to go to the stream and plaza several times.

  • Sebastián

    I cant believe such a wonderful stream used to be covered by a noisy crowed highway less than 10 years ago! Its amazing how you guys were able to recover this beautiful creek for the people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marina-Lee/528652396 Marina Lee

    Wow, pictures are amazing! It seems, that Cheonggyecheon looks even better on photos than it’s in reality:). Liked walking along this stream with my Korean friend a lot.

  • anna

    Hello! could you pleace tell us about 이태원? Thanks!

  • Noura

    if I go to Korea this place will be the first place I’ll go to ♥

  • Sabina

    in these days i can walk in Seoul streets with the help of “google maps”. Firstly I started to walk from Deoksu palace street to 청계천Plaza.It’s really interesting for me. Seoul is a nice city. I hope one day i’ll be able to come South Korea.

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