I lived and worked in Seoul, the megalopolis capital of South Korea, with 25+ million inhabitants, working on an English language teacher visa. Seoul’s population density is DOUBLE New York City’s.
Unfortunately like many Asian cities, Seoul suffers severe pollution and is a sprawling concrete jungle of utilitarian and industrial structures . Most of Seoul’s historical architecture was lost or severely damaged in war and occupation in the 20th Century. To their merit, the Koreans have reconstructed the historically significant temples, palaces and other structures.
Beginning in 2003 work began on the reconstruction of Cheonggyecheon, a small river running through downtown, which had been buried under an elevated highway that slashed through the heart of central Seoul. This ancient river was originally widened and landscaped in the 1700s as part of flood control efforts, and its name derives from the Korean word for “as water should flow”.
The restoration project of this historical river is over 5km long! Some stages were completed while I was still working and living in Seoul. Often I went downtown with friends on a weekend just to walk the newly opened stretches of the river. It is a brilliant example of urban design and the recovery of history. Here’s a short documentary on the project: