A few months ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a feature article on Lee Myung-Bak, the then-presidential candidate (and now president) of South Korea. As an aside, the article said that as mayor of Seoul, Lee had ordered an elevated highway torn down to unearth a buried stream and turn it into a park. Of course, I couldn’t let that pass without doing more background reading.

The stream that was restored is called Cheonggyecheon, and the success of its restoration helped launch Lee’s presidential candidacy. Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon web site has a link to an interesting Discovery Channel Asia documentary (411 MB Windows Media video file, 47 mins), which covers engineering, environmental and archaeological aspects of the project. (Yes, of course, I’ve already watched it!)

While reading up on Cheonggyecheon, I remembered that Taipei had a similar situation. After more research, I found out that Xinsheng Road follows the path of an old canal, and that when he was mayor of Taipei, Ma Ying-jeou also proposed daylighting the canal (although not the part that’s under the elevated Xinsheng Expressway). And now Ma is running for president of Taiwan! In east Asia, tearing down roads is becoming the clear path to launching your presidential career.