This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

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I’m not sure what they put in the water in Seoul, South Korea, but it seems to be doing wonders for the Seattle Times’ James Vesely:

With about 70,000 workers, day and night, 24/7, the people of Korea tore down their old viaduct and installed an ancient river, pushing about 120,000 tons of water a day through miles of the city.

Gone are the slums, back are the ducks. Gone is the rule of traffic above the shops and in its place, the riverwalk of all riverwalks, miles and miles in a straight line to the sea — a grand canal called Cheong Gye Cheon.

How did they do it?

In-ken Lee, director-general of urban planning, led the project under the mayor’s supervision. Lee remembers the time as a coming together of the city, with notorious negotiations with some 4,000 shopkeepers who wanted the viaduct to remain.

“We met every week with the mayor to discuss progress,” Lee said in an interview this past Tuesday. “Every Sunday morning, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.”

I’m thinking: Smokes, that’s a serious commitment.

Indeed. Commitment means sticking to a vision and executing on it. Interesting, then, that just weeks ago a glum, dejected Vesely was calling for a retrofit of the Seattle viaduct on the grounds that he was tired of all the bickering and cajoling (you know, the stuff they call “politics”).

Maybe the Seoul smog did him some good, and he’ll return to Seattle with a renewed sense of commitment.

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