Remembering the Forgotten War: Seoul rebuilt
As the station continues its look at the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, Lewis Dodley revisits the painstaking rebuilding of South Korea and how its capital city came back bigger and better.
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Bombs fell like raindrops at times during the Korean War, leaving behind a path of near total destruction. Seoul, the capital city, was hit especially hard.
"It was flat as a pancake. There wasn't a building standing. If you go to Seoul, if you go to Korea today it is a metropolis. An economic miracle has occurred," said Congressman and Korean War veteran Charles Rangel.
Sparked by Japanese reparation money but fueled by the determination of the people, Seoul went from flat as a pancake to one of largest city's in the world. Economically, most people know the country for its electronics and cars, but South Korea is also a global leader in shipbuilding. The country is reported to be second only to China in the number of orders, with $9 billion in orders this year so far.
But in Seoul the progress has come at a cost. The sometimes strangling traffic jams rival those of New York City.
Because of the congestion, creating a better way to get around became a top priority. Now some 30 years later, the Seoul subway system is considered one of the world's best, serving a larger population than New York at less than half the price.
"The subway system in Seoul is pretty much all automated. The door is automatically controlled and we have a screening system for the safety of our passengers. We currently have nine lines running and plan to add three more lines in the future,' said one Seoul subway manager.
Just like New York, the subway in Seoul is like a stage. Vendors also try to sneak in illegal sales, but in the capital city, one doesn't get just a fast sales pitch -- they get a whole demonstration.
The system is also American friendly, with all critical messages available in English.
"In all honesty sir, the first thing I did when I got here is hit the subway. I need to feel back at home," said U.S. Army Specialist Johnathon Elkaim.
But even in the heart of Korea, many New Yorkers say there's no place like home.