[KS] New restoration projects for Seoul

Stefan Ewing sa_ewing at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 1 16:17:04 EST 2006

Dear KS list members:

After the tearing down of the Chungangch'o^ng government offices and the 
restoration of Kyo^ngbokkung and Ch'o^nggyech'o^n, urban heritage projects 
in Seoul are continuing apace.

Recently, Jiyul Kim et al. mentioned some of the contributing events leading 
up to the Yushin Constitution of 1972.  One such event was the "1.21 
Incident," the Blue House raid of 21 January 1968.  A direct consequence of 
that incident was the closing to public access of most of Bugaksan--the 
mountain behind the Ch'o^ngwadae, Kyo^ngbokkung, and Ch'angdo^kkung--and the 
section of Seoul's old city wall that runs along the top of the mountain.

As it happens, the Cultural Heritage Administration (Munhwajaech'o^ng) just 
announced on 24 January of this year, the restoration and gradual reopening 
between April 2006 and October 2007 of the entire northern section of the 
old wall, from Waryong Park in the northeast to Ch'angu^imun, the old city's 
northwestern gate.  Smack-dab in the middle is Sukcho^ngmun--the "main north 
gate" corresponding to Sungnyemun (Namdaemun) in the south--which will be 
accessible starting this April from Hongnyo^nsa, a temple to its northeast.

(The gate never functioned as a major entry point into the city.  Many old 
maps do not even show any roads leading to or away from it.  As Andrei 
Lankov hinted at on this list in November 2004, the gate never seems to have 
served much more than a purely symbolic purpose 

In the same press conference, the CHA also announced the restoration of 
Kwanghwamun to its original appearance and location, slightly to the south 
and off-axis from its current position.  According to the plan, the road in 
front of Kyo^ngbokgung will be realigned, and the Ministry of Culture and 
Tourism and the US Embassy will apparently move to new locations, to make 
way for a new plaza.  Kwanghwamun will be dismantled this coming October, to 
be reopened in 2009.  (That any of this will actually happen remains to be 
seen: the English Dong-A Ilbo article cited below states no agreement has 
yet been reached with the various parties concerned to implement these 
ambitious plans--including the Seoul Metropolitan Government!)

Incidentally, despite the demolition in 1908 of the most accessible and 
visible sections of Seoul's old city wall in the Tongdaemun and 
Namdaemun-So^daemun areas, most of the wall surprisingly remains intact: 
over the top of Namsan in the south, and in a broad semicircle from 
Tongdaemun to the site of So^daemun, along Nakt'asan in the east, Bugaksan 
in the north, and Inwangsan in the west.

- Dong-A Ilbo (Korean): 
- Dong-A Ilbo (English): 
- Kukmin Ilbo: 

Background information:
- Sukcho^ngmun: http://100.naver.com/100.php?id=797640
- Seoul So^nggwak (Wall): 

Yours sincerely,
Stefan Ewing

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