Friday, December 26, 2008

The Zero Milestone and More

Seoul zero milestone
The Gwanghwamun Public Square has a zero milestone at its center. Around the zero milestone are four landmarks that indicate the four directions of North South East and West, and another twelve landmarks in the form of the twelve animals symbolizing longevity. Inside the circle formed by these twelve animal-shaped sculptures, are the actual distances from Seoul to the nations[sic] 53 major cities by highway, and the distances from 64 cities around the world, measured in straight line.

Thus reads the English panel of the plaque upper left, below; to the right is a detail of one of the animals of longevity; the bottom pics are close-ups of two milemarkers.

explanatory plaque, clockwise, Hangeul, English, Japanese, Chineselongevity animal detail
mileage markermileage marker

Admiral Yi Statue: In the background of the large shot of the zero milestone above, you can see a pedestaled statue, partly blocked by a road sign. That's Admiral Yi Sun-sin, one of Korea's great heroes, overlooking Sejeongro Boulevard in Jongro-il-ga. Admiral Yi saved the country from Japanese aggression in some 23 battles during the latter part of the sixteenth century; his strategic brilliance, together with his invention of kobukson or 'turtle ships'--the world's first ironclads--cemented his position in Korean esteem.

Admiral Yi statue, under construction

Admiral Yi, from eastAdmiral Yi, from west

Hammering Man: The 'Hammering Man' in Seoul is the largest (at 72 feet) of a series of such kinesthetic sculptures created by Jonathan Borofsky; there is a list of his public works at his website. In an interview with CMM (Carnegie-Mellon Magazine), also available at his webpage, he comments on the Seoul Hammering Man:
It’s a symbol for the worker in all of us. I used a very traditional hammer image. We still have people who use hammers, of course, to build, but it can be anybody who works with their hands. My vision was to have as many of these hammering around the world at the same time as possible to tie us in as one installation, one people working.

Hammering Man, by Jonathan BorofskyHammering Man, by Jonathan Borofsky

Bosingak Site: "This is the site of the Bosingak Bell Tower, the bell that was rung to announce the time. The bell tower was built in 1396, and the bell was rung to signal the opening and closing of the city gates. It was also rung to alert the citizens when there was a fire.
"In 1413 the bell tower was moved to what is now the intersection of Jongno [where it is now]. In 1440 it was expanded to 5 kan (a kan is the interval between pillars) along the east-west axis and 4 kan along the north-south axis. The bell tower was burned down several times due to war and fire and each time it was rebuilt. ..."

Next to the tower, was this pleasant sculpture installation, obviously depicting a traditional classroom, but beyond that I am clueless.

I took all these shots yesterday; I got off a couple stops past City Hall (green line) and walked west, knowing I would find at least Admiral Yi on my way to the Plaza with the skating, etc. Let me just add, the wind was frozen air funneling through the skyscraper canyon of the Big City--so you better appreciate these pics! Oh, and Happy Boxing Day.

No comments: