Sunday, January 15, 2012

Our Humble Request (安居)

Before jetting off to Hong Kong, I bought National Geographic magazine to read away the 3.5 hour in flight journey. This issue has a special featured series about world's growing population (now exceeding 7 billion), and argues that urbanization is a desirable solution to the demographic challenges we are now facing.

It then introduces the world's top influential cities such as NYC, London, Paris, and Asian cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore, and Seoul. A special chart is provided to rate each city's key characteristics, for example, some are financial oriented and some cultural. Of which, Singapore is ranked strong in economy but weak in culture, not surprisingly. 

In describing how urbanization helps alleviate the pain of growing population, a special emphasis is placed on Seoul's urban development, and as I thought through it, it makes a reasonable choice, for Seoul is probably the only city in the world that rises from WW2's ashes to an affluent metropolitan harboring more than 10 million people - though we can name a number of cities who has transformed from poverty to prosperity, such as the other 3 Asian Tigers, but population-wise, none of them has managed it to the extent like Seoul - a city who has  subway systems, power and water supply that suffice its 10 million people, a city where half people own their apartments.

Yeondoo Jung's Evergreen Tower, 2011.
An art work of Yeondoo Jung is then provided - The Evergreen Tower. This photography work shows a portraits of 32 families residing in the Evergreen Tower. It says:

A Place Called Home
Seoul, South Korea
These apartments in the 25-story Evergreen Tower are identical, but each family adds humanizing touches to its 150-square-foot living room—from trophies and wedding pictures to a cross and a cuckoo clock. More than half of metropolitan Seoul's 24 million residents live in high-rises, deeming them safer, more energy efficient, and a better investment than single-family dwellings. (Source)

You know what. I have always thought of those identical city apartments as inhumane and chilly, but now I thought of it, it dawns on me that they are actually the most humane establishments of the baby boomer's generation, where they raise their family in a space, no matter how humble or simple, that shelters, warms, irrigates. 

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