Sunday, 30 November 2014

Fast And Furious: The Gangbyeon Expressway

         (Gangbyeon Expressway as seen from Hannam-dong)

My Hannam-dong neighborhood in the Yongsan District in Seoul is just right next to a major bridge, the Hannam Bridge. This bridge connects the traffic between Yongsan-gu in the north and Gangnam-gu in the south. That's why in the morning, the traffic is heavy going north for those heading to their offices and businesses around Myeong-dong and Jongno areas, while in the evening, the heavy traffic goes towards the opposite direction. 

Although the traffic along the Hannam Bridge is heavy enough, right below it, on the Yongsan side, is the Gangbyeong Expressway, where the number of vehicles is a hundredfold more than that on the bridge.

The Gangbyeon Expressway snakes along the northern banks of the Han River, serving as a major artery for thousands of cars, vans, trucks and motorbikes that are usually heading to the northern areas of Seoul. 

And one evening, during the rush hour, I walked towards the edge of the neighborhood, not to count the cars, but to actually to spot the moon that night, which according to the news, would be one of the brightest during the year.

But sadly, the brightness of the full moon was eclipsed by my interest on taking some photographs of the traffic along the expressway below, which was then further eclipsed by the brightness of the headlights of the vehicles. 

I have never ventured walking on the Hannam Bridge all these years. It was scary to be standing along the narrow space on the side of the bridge designated for pedestrians who want to stroll, run, or in the case that night, take silly pictures of the moving transportation equipment below. Ha-ha-ha!

I always thought that people who have no business being on a bridge would always be there to, well, jump from it. I wasn't strolling along the bridge, nor I was on a bike crossing it. If you were on one of the vehicles passing by, what would you think if you see a guy standing still on the bridge, facing away? But if you see him with a selfie stick, would you think he was taking his last known selfies? Ha-ha-ha!

Anyways, as I said, it was scary standing on that narrow pedestrian space because the rushing buses and cars just swished and swooshed next to you. Not that their tailwinds created a noisy sonic boom, but anything could happen around a vehicle running 60 km/h.

   (Gangbyeon Expressway as seen from Hannam Bridge)

So, after taking a few photographs, and not bothering to count all the vehicles (ha-ha-ha!), I was out of there. And I was making my way home, I wondered at what time would the traffic actually ease up. Maybe midnight, when, I guess, most of the commuters have made it to their destinations. 

If you drive along the Gangbyeon Expressway every night on your way home, you might just have contributed to my pictures. And the next time you're traveling this expressway and see someone standing still on the Hannam Bridge above, I assure you it wouldn't be me. Ha-ha-ha! 

And if you're one of those fast and furiously bad drivers in the city who think that traffic lights are just a suggestion, or that pedestrian lanes are just decorative white stripes painted on the road, do have some respect for the traffic rules and pedestrians. Most of the culprits in my neighborhood are those drivers of flashy cars and ones with diplomatic plates. 

And if you're one of those thousands of bus commuters passing through the Hannam Bridge, do have a safe journey. Everyday.

By the way, I also looked up that night.


  1. I love taking pictures of traffic as well! It does get a little nerve-wracking standing on a bridge looking out. But at the same time, it's a cool experience having people zoom by in their cars while you are stationary. Awesome photos!

  2. I really loved your shots of the traffic. Night photos are still something that I struggle with. If you have any tips on how to pull those awesome ones off (iso/shutter/speed/etc), that'd be awesome! Thanks for this.

    1. Thanks, Carl. Sorry, I'm also in need of some technical lessons regarding my DSLR. Only one photo above was actually from my DSLR.

  3. Not having a car and mostly using the subway, I have not yet even really seen the crazy traffic of Seoul. Your pictures of the highway are very sweet! Makes me want to go walk across one of the many bridges soon!

  4. We have crossed this bridge before and it really is scary when it shakes from the cars and buses rushing underneath. Good photos as well.

  5. That bridge sounds a bit scary to stand upon! Yikes! It seems like anything can happen with crazy Korean drivers behind the wheel- I have seen some really bad driving since being here, and often have to close my eyes while riding around with my husband...

  6. ugh traffic in seoul can be such a nightmare! but you found a way to make it seem like a nice thing. not an easy thing to do!

  7. Thanks for this interesting post! I really enjoy reading about the intricacies of urban development in Seoul. Really gorgeous photos.

  8. The moon is pretty but I also would be distracted by the cars. I think you should do a long exposure of the traffic, you would probably get a beautiful photo!