Monday, 24 November 2014

Seoul's Jamsu-gyo: A Bridge To Environmental Awareness

Who doesn't want to stay in bed all day long? I always said that the best weekends aren't spent at home; they're bed. Ha-ha-ha!

But realizing I stayed in bed for too long that day, I decided to get out of my apartment and walk to wherever my lazy legs would take me.

So, I headed off to my favorite bridge in Seoul, the Jamsu Bridge, or Jamsu-gyo, perhaps the only bridge in Seoul where runners, cyclists, moms and their baby strollers, and international tourists share the entire length with buses and cars. This bridge has dedicated lanes for vehicles, pedestrians and people on bikes. It is also popular with tourists because it has been featured in several Korean movies and dramas, and most important, it's below the Banpo Fountain Bridge, the most popular bridge in Korea.

Heading out my apartment, I initially didn't want to bring my wallet with me, as I thought I was going out for a walk, and not to shop. But something urged me to slip that wallet into my jacket pocket, and I was glad I did. 

When I got to jogging path along the banks of the Han River, I bumped into a colleague in the office, Bruce, who also lives in the Hannam-dong neighborhood; he was also there for a walk. As I said, this path was popular, especially to those living near the Han River. It was even part of a HiSeoul marathon.
(The sign says "Eco Bridge Festival)
So, Bruce and I chatted away during our stroll with the intention of crossing the Jamsu Bridge, which from afar, was abuzz with some activity. Music was blasting, tents were up and no moving vehicles were on it.  I read somewhere that the bridge would be closed for something. 

And when we got there, we were welcomed by the Green and Blue Tayo Buses on display, a 119 First-Aid learning tent,  stalls of recycled products and the cool afternoon breezes of the Han River. That day, Jamsu Bridge became an eco-bridge; a venue of about 800 meters long in order to raise environmental awareness.
                           (Rock Lee quizzing Bruce)

And while checking out the stalls, we chanced upon a young Korean kid, Rock Lee, who quizzed us on the spot about the planet's endangered species. We later learned from his mom, Mrs. Jungmin Park, that Rock, who's perhaps the youngest environmentalist I have ever met, has passionately raised awareness on the plight of the people of Kiribati in Oceania, and has made a presentation at the Convention of Environmental Diversity
    (Very young environmentalists of Earth Kids Foundation)
Rock Lee and other kids had their own Earth Kids Foundation corner in the festival, and were busy engaging the crowd with their quizzes about endangered species and the environment.
      (Professor Yoon wearing an artist apron and his       visitors. Photo courtesy of Miss Jungmin Park)

Also participating in the festival was Professor Hoseob Yoon, a famous environmentalist and artist in Korea. An honorary professor at Kookmin University, Professor Yoon has a website, Greencanvas that features his impressive work and exhibitions. And I was very lucky I went out for a stroll that day because...he gave me a perpetual calendar which he personally designed!  It will be 2015 in a few weeks. Professor Yoon's calendar should be up on a wall on my apartment by then!

At the eco-bridge, there were also live performances, booths selling recycled items like pins, bags, scarves, trinkets and other curios. And since I luckily had my wallet with me, I was able to get my mom at home in the Philippines a few scarves which she asked me not to forget when I fly home next month. I wasn't sure if those scarves were recycled from something, but they definitely were much cheaper than those sold at the department store across my office. And they will fly with me to Manila for Christmas. From an eco-bridge in my mom in the Philippines!
                  (I bought the scarves from this Korean lady)
           (And I got a couple of neck wallets from this guy. 
          His wallets were made from recycled leather.)

On our way back to Hannam-dong, Bruce and I were glad we decided to go for a stroll that day. Meeting Professor Yoon, Rock Lee, his mom, Jungmin, and his friends of Earth Kids Foundation, shopping for scarves and neck wallets, and being reminded that we all should take care of the only planet we have, made an otherwise sleepy Sunday afternoon more interesting than just walking and losing a few calories.  

Now, I should be looking forward to another stroll. And perhaps, on another bridge. :-)


  1. Seoul has so many interesting bridges and I keep finding more that I never knew about. Thanks for showing this one off, we'll have to make a trip to see it next time we're in the big city.

  2. Good to see you've got something to take home from this event. I love these events and am happy that you decided on bringing your wallet. You never know when you'll happen upon some good buys at a surprise market! I hope you have fun while at home. I'm currently writing about a beautiful part of the Philippines (Palawan) and can't help but be jealous of you for calling that place home:) Take care over the holidays!

  3. It's always nice when a spontaneous little walk has you stumbling upon a festival or market you didn't expect! It's my favorite part about this city. And I second Carl's statement, so jealous you're heading to the Philippines over Christmas!

  4. Sounds like your impromptu walk turned out pretty good! I haven't been to this bridge, but your photos look great. The event sounds interesting, and definitely worth going to. You obviously met some interesting people too!

  5. I walked along that bridge! It's so cool to see kids passionate about such important topics. Sounds like your walk was well worth getting out of bed! (as hard as it is sometimes) I can't count how many times I've randomly stumbled upon a festival or event in Korea, that's one of the reasons I love living here!