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By 1945, when the nation was liberated from the Japanese colonial rules, the Cheonggyecheon was filled up with trash,
ground and sand swept from the bare mountains and severely contaminated with wastes from shabby makeshift houses built alongside. After the Korean War (1950~1953), even more people swarmed into Seoul to find their way and make their living and settled down along the stream.

Those living in houses near the stream suffered a lot due to the stench caused by the large amount of wastes flowing into the stream. Thus, the image of Seoul had also been severely affected.


It appeared that the handiest way to put an end to the multitude of shabby, makeshift houses and the dirty smell was to cover up the
stream with concrete. Finally, the work to cover it up with concrete
started as quickly as possible by August 1958, with the 136m section
near Gwangtonggyo completed in 1955 ahead of the remaining

In addition, a 5.6 km-long, 16 m-wide elevated highway extending
from Gwanggyo to Majang-dong was completed over the stream in
August 1971 after four working years. Thus, all makeshift houses
along the stream were demolished, freeing the place for some modern
commercial buildings.

A multitude of large and small tool, lighting, shoes, clothes, secondhand book stores were opened one after another along the concrete-covered stream, attracting some endless lines of customers. Every day there were hundreds of thousands of vehicles passing through the covered stream and the elevated highway. The area eventually became the busiest and noisiest sector in Seoul. No other area in Seoul can reflect the city's history of the past half-century better than the Cheonggycheon area, though.

By the end of the 1950s, it became a symbol of poverty and slovenliness, being filled up with trash and wastes. During the 1960s and 1970s, it was regarded as an example of successful industrialization and modernization. Then, in the 1980s and 1990s, it came to be regarded as a source of intense traffic, health and environmental issues.


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