July 1, 2022 / Competition: LA+ Interruption

Building Ojakkyo (오작교/烏鵲橋): Reimagining DMZ’s next 69 years 

Project team: Project lead; Dongsei Kim. Research Assistant; Elise Park. 

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bisects the Korean Peninsula. This 4-km-wide and 250-km-long military buffer zone has effectively divided the Koreans since the end of the Korean War (1950-1953). This “interruption” project reflects on the DMZ’s past 69 years and questions its potential to transform the current conflict into a positive and productive force for the next 69 years. 

Societies battle to eliminate their perceived adversaries. Nevertheless, I believe opponents and frictions can be transformed into productive power when framed in a novel way, just as the friction from rubbing our hands gives us the desired warmth on a frigid day. 

The “interruption” sits within the DMZ. More precisely, it is located where the DMZ’s Military Demarcation Line (MDL) and the Imjin (how South Koreans say and write it)/Rimjin (how North Koreans say and write it) River intersect. This is where the human-made political line is interrupted by the ecological flows of nature. This project intensifies natural flows to question the absurd ideological lines. 

The “interruption” is inspired by Chilseok Festival—originally a Chinese folklore (Qixi Festival) adopted by Koreans—where the crows and magpies come together once a year on lunisolar July the 7th to form a bridge (Ojakkyo) to reunite separated couple Altair (cowherd) and Vega (weaver girl) across the Milky Way. Japanese celebrate this day as Tanabata Festival, and the Vietnamese as Thất Tịch Festival. Rain on this day is said to be the couple’s tears. 

“Ojakkyo” is a vertical kit-of-parts pole infrastructure and a grave marker built over time. The project starts with 89,188 poles that symbolize the number of deceased separated family members. One additional pole will be erected each time one of the remaining 44,449 separated families passes away. Where the Imjin/Rimjin River and the MDL meet, the poles interrupt the river flows with a series of micro-hydro turbines to produce electricity for both Koreas. Underwater areas also become fish habitats. Poles on hilltops and valleys become micro wind turbines. Poles with greater exposure to the sun are clad with PV panels. Other areas of the poles become nesting areas for birds.

Link to the Competition


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