When I first arrived in Seoul, I immediately noticed that in front of every big building, there always is a sculpture or a piece of art calling the attention of everyone passing by. I guess it's the tradition here in Korea, to upstage your neighbor with a bigger sculpture.
Some works of art don't impress, while others are just too huge to be ignored. And while some huge sculptures seem like an expensive waste of real estate, a few are worth it.
And one piece that actually impresses is the Hammering Man in front of the Heungkuk Life Insurance Building in the Gwanghwamun area.
The first time I saw it was when I wandered around the area on my way to the Seoul Museum of History years ago. With the height of 22 meters, the sculpture of a giant with a very big hammer can't be missed. It's silhouette was like from a Tim Burton movie.
I wonder how much steel was needed for this 50-ton installation. The artist Jonathan Borofsky created the Seoul version of the Hammering Man in 2002, and in 2008, it was "moved closer to the main street in order to interact fully with the urban landscape". Of course, it was meant to interact with the landscape, and not with pedestrians. Ha-ha-ha!
I think the move was a good decision; it caught my attention from afar. It wouldn't have been obvious if it stood on the side of the building, hiding it from view.
And tonight, as I leave the Cinecube Cinema inside the Heungkuk Insurance Building, I took some photos of the giant. And next time, when you're in the Gwanghwamun area and happen to see a giant with a hammer next to a tall building, it's the Hammering Man.