A Restoration

The redevelopment of downtown Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon is a monument to contemporary ‘eco-friendly’ urban design.

Once a natural creek flowing from East to West through the city, the Cheonggyecheon stream became heavily polluted in the 1900’s and was eventually covered by an elevated highway in 1968. In the early 2000’s, the Seoul Metropolitan Government initiated a mammoth restoration project with the primary aim of restoring the stream and reintroducing nature in to the city.

In this #FutureofCities story, US ambassador Eli Reed takes a stroll through the area and documents the citizens of Seoul’s daily interactions within their newly remade parks, plazas and cultural attractions. The photographs depict a Seoul remade, and prompt consideration on our cities’ increasing struggle to integrate nature within the urban environment.

  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 4.0, Shutter: 1/60 seconds, ISO: 2000)

    A father and his sons visit the Cheonggyecheon Museum in Seoul

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 4.0, Shutter: 1/60 seconds, ISO: 100)

    A Cheonggyecheon museum guide stands on a floor display with a video insert

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 4.0, Shutter: 1/60 seconds, ISO: 1600)

    Cheonggyecheon museum guide stands at an informational display

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 9, Shutter: 1/320 seconds, ISO: 100)

    A young woman stands on one of the Cheonggye Road bridges that covers the urban stream running through the Cheonggyecheon area in downtown Seoul.

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 5, Shutter: 1/1000 seconds, ISO: 50)

    A stone walkway enables city-goers to cross the urban stream running through the Cheonggyecheon area in downtown Seoul.

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 4, Shutter: 1/250 seconds, ISO: 320)

    A father plays with his son in the urban stream running through the Cheonggyecheon area in downtown Seoul.

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 6.3, Shutter: 1/320 seconds, ISO: 100)

    A woman walks past the Cheonggyecheon Museum in the Cheonggyecheon area in downtown Seoul.

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 4, Shutter: 1/160 seconds, ISO: 250)

    Visitors travel through a park area in the Cheonggyecheon area in downtown Seoul. The park was built on ‘green belt’ land that was previously swampland. Redevelopment has enabled this area to become a place where city life and nature can co-exist. The park has provided a peaceful place for Seoul’s citizens, as well as a rich habitat for fish and birds.

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/125 seconds, ISO: 100)

    A stone walkway enables city-goers to cross the urban stream running through the Cheonggyecheon area in downtown Seoul.

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 4, Shutter: 1/80 seconds, ISO: 100)

    City-goers relax on the bank of the urban stream running through the Cheonggyecheon area in downtown Seoul.

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 4, Shutter: 1/60 seconds, ISO: 200)

    A woman walks beneath Gwangtonggyo Bridge on the Cheonggyecheon stream in downtown Seoul. The bridge was originally built by King Taejong during the Joseon Dynasty in 1410, but was later buried under an elevated highway during Korea’s post-war economic development. As part of the restoration of the Cheonggye area, the bridge has been unearthed, restored and placed in a new location over the stream.

    Open fullscreen
  • #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Eli Reed

    #FutureofCities - A Restoration

    Sony α7R, FE 24-70mm f4 ZA OSS (F-stop: 11, Shutter: 1/125 seconds, ISO: 100)

    A boy walks through the shadows beneath Gwangtonggyo Bridge on the Cheonggyecheon stream in downtown Seoul. The bridge was originally built by King Taejong during the Joseon Dynasty in 1410, but was later buried under an elevated highway during Korea’s post-war economic development. As part of the restoration of the Cheonggye area, the bridge has been unearthed, restored and placed in a new location over the stream.

    Open fullscreen
Eli Reed

Eli Reed, Artisan Of Imagery

“Sony’s cameras have helped me document the world; the good and the bad. They’ve helped me photograph human suffering and sadness, as well as new possibilities and visions of a better future. “

Eli Reed has been a full member of the elite photography agency Magnum Photos since 1988, and a Clinical Professor at Austin’s University of Texas since 2005.

Eli joins the Sony Imaging Ambassadors with his #FutureofCities project A restoration; a photo series exploring the redevelopment of the Cheonggyecheon area in downtown Seoul.

Close