Circles and Squares

Insights into Korea's Sudden Rise

Bicycles as environmental symbols

One of the weirdest things you will find in Korea is the use of bicycles as decoration. Many chick cafes, office buildings and markets will have an attractive bicycle parked in front to indicate some sort of environmental awareness and give a down-home feeling to the place.

Useless bicyle

Useless bicyle

The odd part is that these attractive bicycles are never used. This bicycle in the window of a consulting firm’s office is typical. The attractive bicyles just sits there all day long  to be observed. Bicycles are little more than symbols of another possible Korea that simply does not exist. We find a parallel in the extensive bike paths that were built under President Lee Myung Bak. These paths go on for miles, but they are often cut off from residential communities by freeways and otherwise extremely impractical to use. In many cases, one must brave dangerous traffic to get to and from them. There really has not been any serious effort to integrate the bicycle into Korean society.

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One response to “Bicycles as environmental symbols

  1. Charlie Marlow April 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    This use of bikes to appear chic and trendy is quite clever. Many people consider bicyclers themselves to be smug, imputing the same motivations to them. Bicycles also carry a message of being not rushed and being non-techie, no matter the realities of zipping through traffic illegally and buying the most advanced, expensive bike ever.

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