(The levelling of the Ahyeon overpass marks the latest attempt to improve the environment of South Korea's sprawling capital
Elevated expressways were a key feature of Kim's projects, and the first to be built was the Ahyeon overpass. It was intended as part of a never completed link road running from east to west across the capital. To cope with the massive increase in population and traffic during the 1980s, 101 expressways were built. They were quick to put up and much cheaper than extending the underground. This policy reflected "the speed-oriented, top-down urban planning methods of the old days," says Kim Ki-ho at Seoul University.
"Elevated expressways were a necessary evil to keep traffic moving," the conservative daily Dong-A noted on 6 February. "But the fewer there are, the better."
Apart from spoiling the view, one of the main problems of the various new structures was how quickly they wore out, becoming a serious hazard. In 1995, Seoul residents were horrified when the Sampoong department store collapsed, claiming 502 lives. A year earlier, 32 people were killed when part of the Seongsu bridge over the river Han subsided. The city was spending about $7.5m a year on upkeep and repairs for the Ahyeon overpass.
Via Bert Guevara