Cheonggyecheon Stream

Cheonggyecheon Stream running through the heart of Seoul
Cheonggyecheon Stream running through the heart of Seoul

Cheonggyecheon Stream is an 8.4 kilometer (5.2 mile) waterway and public space that runs from west to east through the heart of downtown Seoul. During the Joseon Dynasty, the stream was known as Gaecheon, meaning open stream.

Over the years, the stream which brought national pride, was refurbished many times by the orders of multiple kings.

During the reign of King Taejong, who reigned from 1400 to 1418, the banks were strengthen and bridges were built.

Refurbishment work became a national project during the reign of King Yeonjo, who ruled from 1724 to 1776.

The stream was renamed to Cheonggyecheon during the Japanese occupation. During this time, attempts to cover it up were unsuccessful.

Frame houses on the Cheonggyecheon Stream during the early 1900s
Frame houses on the stream during the early 1900s

Makeshift houses were built on the banks of the water after the Korean War. Over the next few years, trash and waste from residents living in the area caused conditions to deteriorate and become an eyesore for the city.

In 1958, work started to convert the waterway into an elevated highway. In 1976, work was completed on the 5.6 kilometer (3.4 mile) concrete highway.


In July 2003, work began to remove the elevated highway and restore Cheonggyecheon to its original beauty. Work took over two years to complete which included pumping 120,000 tons of water back into the dry stream and restoring Gwangtonggyo Bridge and Supyogyo Bridge.

In September 2005, Cheonggyecheon was reopened to the public. This new landmark is now a popular destination for tourists and locals who want to experience natural beauty and wildlife in a large, urban city.

Stone crossing at Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul
Stone crossing