30,000 shoes tower over Seoul overpass

Shoes Tree, a 17m-tall art installation made of over 30,000 worn-out shoes, will be revealed on Saturday (May 20) to mark the opening of the city’s first highway-turned-park, Seoullo 7017.
Shoes Tree, a 17m-tall art installation made of over 30,000 worn-out shoes, will be revealed on Saturday (May 20) to mark the opening of the city’s first highway-turned-park, Seoullo 7017.PHOTO: KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Workers hang worn-out shoes on Shoes Tree on Seoullo 7017, Seoul’s soon-to-open pedestrian-friendly park, near Seoul Station.
Workers hang worn-out shoes on Shoes Tree on Seoullo 7017, Seoul’s soon-to-open pedestrian-friendly park, near Seoul Station.PHOTO: KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Workers hang worn-out shoes on Shoes Tree on Seoullo 7017, Seoul’s soon-to-open pedestrian-friendly park, near Seoul Station.
Workers hang worn-out shoes on Shoes Tree on Seoullo 7017, Seoul’s soon-to-open pedestrian-friendly park, near Seoul Station.PHOTO: KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

SEOUL (Korea Herald/Asia News Network) - A 17m-tall art installation made of over 30,000 worn-out shoes will be revealed outside Seoul Station on Saturday (May 20), marking the opening of the city's first highway-turned-park, Seoullo 7017.

Titled simply Shoes Tree, the work was designed and installed by environmental artist Hwang Ji Hae. Flower seeds have been planted inside each shoe.

The pedestrian-friendly park, modelled after New York's iconic High Line, stretches for about 1km and links seven surrounding areas, including Seoul Station and Namdaemun Market, to 12 pedestrian walkways.

"We invited Hwang to install Shoes Tree to give a meaning of urban restoration to visitors of Seoullo 7017," said Choi Kwang Bin, the Seoul Metropolitan Government's city gardening department.

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"Both Shoes Tree and Seoullo 7017 are given new life with new meaning, reborn as a creative upcycling art and a unique park, respectively."

The reason Hwang used shoes to create a tree was to remember the historical significance of the Yeomcheon-gyo handmade shoes street, located behind Seoullo 7017, the artist was quoted as saying.

The city restoration project of Seoullo 7017 began four years ago to make use of an old overpass that once served as a major road connecting western and central Seoul.

Public calls for its removal had mounted after a safety assessment classified the outdated overpass as dangerous in 2006.

The "70" in the name Seoullo 7017 refers to 1970, when the Seoul Station flyover was constructed, while 17 is a reference to the number of walkways connected to it and 2017, when its construction was completed.

Shoes Tree will be exhibited until May 29.

Citizens can participate on the opening day by bringing their own shoes, drawing flowers and hanging them on Shoes Tree.

A variety of events involving citizen participation will take place at Seoullo 7017 and continue until June 18, the city said.