Beonsachang, Korea’s first modern weapons factory
Beonsachang, which refers to the weapons factory affiliated with the Arsenal Bureau that was built to produce modern weapons, is located inside the grounds of the Korea Banking Institute in Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. The roof-tiled Beonsachang, with its antique atmosphere, sharply contrasts with the modern architecture of the Korea Banking Institute building. It has been disassembled and reassembled for restoration purposes and was designated as Tangible Cultural Asset No. 51 by Seoul City. As “Beonsa” means “to cast by pouring molten metal into a clay mold,” “Beonsachang” implies that a weapon thus made creates a thundering noise and the ignition of the gunpowder creates a light as bright as day. The arched and horizontal windows and the triangular windows between the tiered roofs are said to have been used to allow the escape of the heat and smoke generated during the weapon-making process. The interior features both rafters and king post roof trusses used in Western-style wooden structures. In this respect, Beonsachang is a particularly unique building that modernized the traditional Korean roof structure. As the oldest existing brick building in the country and Korea’s first modern factory, Beonsachang served as a symbol of Korea’s will to achieve independent national defense King Gojong and the Joseon Dynasty during the period when Korea was under great pressure by Japan and Western powers.