Tuesday 24 July 2012

Introducing Incheon

Incheon is a port city and forms Seoul's gateway to the seas. This makes for a relatively poor city since the money which comes in flows directly towards it's close neighbor. In the past Incheon was used as a strategic point for military actions by Russia, Japan, China and the U.S.A. All these different cultures have influenced the face of the city, especially in its oldest parts. Incheon must be the only place in Korea where you can walk into a Japanese style house located in China Town and find a North American fireplace in the living room! It's also the only city in Korea which has a China Town. Other remarkable elements which remind of Incheon's turbulent history are a general MacArthur statue in a park called 'Freedom Park', a soup which is originally made out of the edible leftovers of North American soldiers which in adopted form is still available today, and a remarkable number of anglo-saxon colonial style buildings.
Next to this Incheon is the stage for one of the most terrible movies ever made, Inchon, which tells the story of the 1950 invasion of Inchon during the Korean War which was masterminded by general MacArthur.

As I wrote in the post 'Introducing Baedari', Incheon is undergoing major developments. This process started about 20 years ago and still hasn't reached it's final stage. In the mean time the city pretty much went broke and seems not to be able to finance further development. This gives the city a certain feeling of uncompleteness I felt less in for instance Seoul. With Korea being one of the MIKT countries, Incheon surely will develop much more in the near future. Let's hope that by that time the idea of cultural heritage also applies to the urban landscape for the Korean government.

Worth mentioning as well is that the local government has designed a character for certain parts on Incheon (it's a bit unclear to me which parts, but for sure the harbor and the airport). It's called 'Worldee' and it is based on a seagull (ears & hair), an airplane (ears), and waves (feet). You can spot Worldee in many different parts of the city in many different roles (like a policeman, sailor, tourist, etc).

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