Mapo Bridge: "Bridge Of Death"

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by tyrphoto, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Mapo Bridge is one of 27 bridges that crosses the Han River which divides Seoul in half, east to west. South Korea has the second the highest suicide rate of all countries in the world and has been ranked number one amongst economically developed countries for the past 10 years. For whatever odd reason, Mapo Bridge, amongst all 27 bridges, has the highest rate of "jumpers" (over 100 during 2007-2012) that attempt suicide by jumping off the bridge into the river 60 feet below and the success rate has been over half.

    Because of this, in 2012, Samsung Life Insurance and Cheil Worldwide (a marketing and PR firm) started the "Bridge Of Life Project" which was aimed to prevent suicidal jumps by placing signs with messages of hope all along the bridge. Each individual sign lights up as you near the sign. Unfortunately, after the project was completely shortly thereafter, 2013 saw 93 attempts which was nearly the total for the previous 5 years combined.

    Here are just a few of those signs...

    "How was your day today?"


    "If not, then"

    "How about a cup of coffee?"

    And a view of Mapo Bridge (left side, painted blue) from south of the Han River looking north. Image taken at 6:56pm (sunset at 7:03pm), although there was a lot of light pollution and haze.

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  2. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 25, 2012
    Interesting story about the bridge.
  3. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    it's interesting to know the story, those signs don't seem to be of much help against desperation though, a cup of coffee, really?
  4. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Thank you for the posting about this serious issue. Coming from outside Korean culture, viewing only a sampling of messages, or translation nuances, perhaps a different PR firm is in order. "How was your day today?" reinforces the reason for the visit, not a discouragement.
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  5. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    I tend to agree about the messages not being the most appropriate, at least coming from a western background. Myself included.

    The PR campaign seems to have failed as I alluded to in the original post how the following year, the number of suicide attempts increased dramatically. I believe the high rate of suicide here in Korea is a twofold situation in which there is great pressure to succeed starting at a very early age (around 5 years old) as well as great social pressures in different forms. Follow that up with a society that doesn't talk about suicide openly as it is seen as a mental disease and the shame that goes with it in a society such as this. Sad as it may seem, there really is no outlet to discuss one's feelings, even with those who are as close as family and friends. To discuss such things would be to show signs of weakness and is a subject that is basically seen as taboo.

    FWIW, the translations are accurate and as this was my first time on the bridge photographing it along with the area, I really didn't get it either. There was one message that I didn't even bother photographing as I thought it was pretty clueless as to the reasons why the message was even there. The message in Korean was "하하하하하하하하하하" which is a literal translation for someone laughing "Hahahahahahaha". My guess is that the idea behind it was to cheer up the person reading it with "sounds" of laughter but as someone who grew up in a western society, it just seems like a mocking laugh in that kind of situation.

    When I first heard about the bridge and the written words of encouragement, I had imagined that it was everyday people who were writing graffiti and letters taped to the bridge with real words of encouragement. Letters of hope and positive words from real people. This wasn't what I was expecting.
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  6. Gerard

    Gerard Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 12, 2015
    Vleuten, Utrecht
    Every culture has its taboos. Seen from that standpoint, these signs are a way of adressing the matter at hand, which is to be praised. In our western culture we had these taboos too, some still do.
    Thanks for sharing this moving story.
    I always appreciate to be informed of a context. Sometimes the 'thousand words' that a picture is telling are not enough.
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  7. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Gorgeous picture of the Mapo Bridge. I think the intent of the signs were to distract and change the thoughts - but I had no idea that coffee was that popular there.
  8. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Coffee is more popular here than any other metropolitan city in the world. Just to give you an idea how popular, Seoul has more Starbucks than any other city in the world with New York City being second. Then there are other coffee chains like Coffee Bean, Mango Six, Caffe Bene, Twosome Place, Angel-In-Us, Ediya, Kona, Paul Bassett, etc... They're all over the city. Last night I met some friends at a new pizzeria (great pizza and wings BTW) that just opened up by City Hall. A friend of mine gave me directions and said that when you see Starbucks and Paul Bassett, make a left. It just happened that there were two different Starbucks and two different Paul Bassett right around the corner from each other which confused the hell out of me.

  9. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Wow! It's amazing how much things can change in a little over a decade.
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