As a journalist that covering technology, I often heard about the vision of turning a city into a smart city. A few weeks ago, I have a chance to discover the very first smart city in the world, Songdo. The name might not be familiar, but you see this city often than you might realize. Songdo appeared in many Korean drama or music video such as Psy’s Gangnam Style, Running Man, and most notably Descendants of the Sun.
Seeing what Songdo offers today, it is kinda amazing to know that Songdo was just a dump of sand 16 years ago. Built on reclaimed land in 2000, Songdo was home to a scattering of fishermen in Yellow Sea. Now, it is home to skyscrapers building and high-tech innovation.
The city is equipped with sensors to monitor temperature, energy use and traffic flow. Roaming on the street, you won’t see any rubbish trucks or trash cans on the apartment blocks. All household waste is sucked directly from individual kitchens through a vast underground network of tunnels. The waste will go to processing centres, where it’s sorted, deodorised, and treated to be kinder to the environment. Sound awesome right?
Traveling-wise, there are still not many things to experience in this city-in-a-box. It is still mostly empty in some part but worry not because it is safe. So, lets see what you can do here:
Though high-tech, Songdo was built with eco-friendly environment. 40% area in Songdo is park and you will easily find people who bike or walk to work. Be careful though to the reckless driver. Central Park is undeniably the center of Songdo with the size of 101-acre. The park was completed back in 2009 and was loosely based/modeled on New York’s Central Park.
The manmade waterway is filled with sea water, and water taxis travel through the park. You can rent a boat or canoe to cruise around. If you choose to walk or bike, you can see some of the combination between art and tech installation scattered around the park. The park was divided into five different themes. You can find nature by wandering in its forest or feeding the rabbits and the deers. To understand the city, visit the Compact Smart City. Inside, they have short presentation video about the city and few exhibition.
There is also a giant cultural space named TriBowl which modeled after three bowls turned upside down. Each of the bowl represents sky, land, and sea. Wandering in this park, feels like being in an architect’s master plan; everything was calculated and designed well.
At glance, Songdo Convensia might remind you to Rumah Gadang or Sidney Opera House. The latter, might seem to be the inspiration. Songdo Convensia is a state-of-the-art convention center with five spacious floors. It is use for various exhibition events and performances.
Coming inside this building, you will greeted by its exquisite exterior and interior designs which is a reminiscent of the luxurious Sydney Opera House. They have tourist information center, small library, and small cafe.
Naturally, it has become a popular venue for television programs, performances, and fashion shows. Walking few blocks away from Convensia and Central Park, there are few small parks modeled on world famous landmark such as Louvre in Paris.
One of the things that represent South Korea is shopping and Songdo don’t missed on that. However, because it is Songdo, the shopping arcade was also built differently as NC Cube Mall/Canal Walk Shopping Street is not just a shopping mall that has a form of building, but it is a street mall. Come here at night and you can see the beautiful lights and scenery.
Eat and drink
Songdo has several restaurant and cafe around. An’s Bakery has the finest selection of cake, bread, and cookies. Not far from An’s Bakery, there is Dal. Komm coffee shop which was one of the filming location for Descendants of the Sun.
How to get here
Songdo is located near Seoul but the transportation system kinda take long route to reach. It would save time to take a taxi to Convensia Daero or Central Park.
If you take the bus, choose bus no 1301, 9000, 9100, and M6405.
If you choose Metro, take Line 1 and transfer to Incheon 1 Line at Bupyeong. Thus, get off at Central Park