The Symbol of the Korean Empire “Seokjojeon Hall at Deoksugung Palace”

During the late Joseon period, the Korean Empire was caught in the middle of power struggles between nations from around the world.

After the assassination of Empress Myeongseong and the emperor’s escape to the Russian legation, King Gojong changed the name of the kingdom from “Joseon” to the “Korean Empire” and restructured the organization of the royal family to reclaim national sovereignty.

The long-term construction and completion of Seokjojeon Hall was made possible because of Emperor Gojong’s strong belief that the hall was a symbol of the Korean empire itself and the authority of the royal family.

As such, Seokjojeon Hall reflects Emperor Gojong’s hope for the continued sovereignty of the nation, and, after the Japanese colonial era, continued to stand as a landmark of the late Joseon/early Korean Empire period. Today, the hall is open to the public as the Korean Empire Museum of History.

The museum continues to give visitors a glimpse into the heart and mind of Emperor Gojong as he fought for solitarily in a time of turbulence.

“Guui Intake Station” Where Art Flows

In April 2014, the Guui Intake Station was transformed into the Seoul Street Art Creation Center as the first base camp for street arts in Korea. The former Guui Intake Station began operation in 1976 and was the largest intake facility in Korea, producing 830,000 tons of water a day.

When the new Gangbuk Intake Station was constructed in 2011, the Guui Intake Station was rendered obsolete and remained closed until re-opening as the art creation center.

The Seoul Street Art Creation Center is a Mecca of arts and culture in Seoul that was created to help artists achieve their dreams. Though the center is currently in operation, it continues to undergo its miraculous transformation from an old and deteriorated industrial facility to a place of artistic vision; construction of the center is expected to be completed in 2017. Instead of the clean and clear waters that once flowed from the station, the center will now be providing the citizens of Seoul with a steady stream of art and culture.

Memories of Plenty “Namdaemun Market”

Created in the early Joseon Dynasty, Namdaemun Market was once a place full of vendors and shops that sold goods illegally; this well-known market became a legitimate market in 1897, along with the opening of Changnaejang Market at the site of the Seonhyecheong (tribute bureau) storage building.

After the market was established and the local railroad went into operation, the volume of people in the area increased sharply, and word began to spread about the variety and number of goods at the market. Although the quality of items sold at the market paled in comparison to luxury name brand goods, the Namdaemun Market soon was well known as the largest market for daily necessities in Seoul during the Japanese colonial era.

The market has a number of different nicknames, one of which is Ddokkaebi Market. A Ddokkaebi is a type of goblin in Korean folklore; it is said that the market has such a wide selection of merchandise that you can even find a Ddokkaebi’s magic club. The market is also known as “Yankee Market” for its number of goods smuggled from Japan such as cloth, cameras, and watches, as well as munitions from the US Military post sold after the Korean War. Another of the market’s nicknames is “Abai Market” (“abai” is North Korean dialect for “father”) due to the number of North Korean refugees who lived in the area.

The present-day market was constructed after a large fire destroyed many of the buildings in 1968. Today, goods are categorized by floor and the market is particularly sought out for its selection of kitchen utensils, silk goods, and crafts.

Dreams of Enlightenment and Autonomy at “Dongnimmun Gate”

Muakjae, located outside of the West Gate on the road to Beijing, was adjacent to the Yeongeunmun Gate and Mohwagwan Hall, where Korean government officials received Chinese envoys.

Yeongeunmun Gate and Mohwagwan Hall were major structures that symbolized the idea of “serving the Great”, an attitude that Joseon Korea held towards China. These two structures were demolished by Progressives such as Seo Jae-pil as part of efforts to sever ties with foreign nations. In their place, Dongnimmun Gate, the largest national project at the time, was built as a symbol of autonomy and enlightenment.
After undergoing renovations during the Japanese colonial period, Dongnimmun Gate was moved in 1978 during the construction of Seongsan-daero to about 70 meters to the northwest of its original location.
By repositioning the gate, the hope was that those who passed by the gate would stop and take a moment to reflect upon the unique history of Seoul and all those who had traveled in and out of the city.

The First Missionary Site in Incheon “Naeri Church”

On April 5, 1885, on Easter Sunday, missionary Henry Appenzeller and his wife disembarked at Jemulpo Port, stepping foot in Joseon Korea for the first time. The couple began their missionary work by holding church services in a small thatched-roof cottage before moving to a cozy white chapel with lime plaster walls in 1895 and founding the first women’s church in Korea. After officially establishing the church, dubbed Naeri Church, the Appenzellers expanded their residence to accommodate their increasing congregation, and dedicated a new church building on Christmas morning in 1901. The new building, which later became known as the Jemulpo Wesley Worship Hall, was the first modern worship hall in Incheon and became a base for missionary work along the eastern coast of Korea.

The Jemulpo Wesley Worship Hall was torn down in 1955, and the cast iron bell of Naeri Church was moved from place to place. Finally, in 2012, the worship hall was rebuilt and the bell was returned to its rightful place.

Joseon was the land that captured the hearts of the Appenzellers, and Jemulpo was where the couple’s mission work began, but it was the Wesley Worship Hall that was the true base of the Methodist Church in Korea and the beginning of the modern era of Jemulpo.

The Memory of the Danginri Line “Seogyo 365”

When Subway Line 2 was first opened, a number of small theaters and unique cafés began to spring up along the entrance to Hongdae (Hongik University). This area soon became the main culture and arts street of Seoul; however, in the 2000s, large stores and cafes begin to flood the area, choking out many of their smaller and more unique competitors. In the midst of these sweeping changes stood Seogyo 365, a cluster of large and small shops lining the railroad tracks that wound among the bustling streets.

The buildings of Seogyo 365, which still stand proud in what was once known as 365 Seogyo-dong, were built in the 1970s along the Danginri railroad tracks, which have since disappeared from existence.
The low-rise buildings of Seogyo 365 stand at only two or three stories high and vary in width from 2 to 5 meters, making for a unique cityscape in this relatively modern area that continues to change. Even before the old Danginri Railway was closed, the buildings of Seogyo 365 were slated for demolition, but local residents, merchants, and architects fought to protect and preserve the historic area. The future of Seogyo 365 still remains somewhat uncertain—the fate of this charming area rests on the shoulders and patronage of tourists to the Hongdae area.

The Beginning of the Development of Gangnam “Hannamdaegyo Bridge”

Hannamdaegyo Bridge was originally known as the Third Hanganggyo Bridge. It was renamed during the Comprehensive Hangang Development Project in 1985. As a gateway to the Gyeongbu Express Way, Hannamdaegyo Bridge served as a way to help relieve some of the anxiety people felt after the war—giving city residents another way to flee across the river in the case of an emergency. The bridge was also built as a way to indirectly relieve some of the problems of overpopulation that plagued the Gangbuk area.

Construction of the Third Hanggangyo Bridge began in 1966 and was followed the next year by the opening of the Gyeongbu Expressway, both of which ushered in the development of the Gangnam area. The value of the land in Gangnam began to skyrocket around the time that the bridge was completed, leading to the emergence of “bokbuin” (women who made huge profits from real estate speculation) and the myth of Maljuk-geori (Horse-feed Street).

Prior to construction of the bridge, commuter boats had been the only means of transportation between Gangbuk and Gangnam. Yet now, the Hannamdaegyo Bridge, which has been widened to twice its original size, welcomes crowds of people to the ritzy Gangnam area as it quietly keeps the secrets of more difficult days long gone by.

The Transformation of the Public Facilities in Suwon “Family Women’s Hall”

The Paldal-gu area, an older section of the city, still contains the remnants of modern architecture built during the Japanese colonization of Korea. One of the buildings from this time that has been well preserved and maintained is the annex building of the Suwon Family Women’s Hall, which has also been designated a local landmark. Estimated to have been built at the end of the 1920s, this building was listed as a national registered cultural property in 2014 in recognition of its historical importance. With the exception of a few changes, the building has been maintained in its original form. When the building was first transferred to the Suwon City Government, it was used as a city government building, but was then used as the Suwon Cultural Center after the new city government building was constructed to the rear.
Along with the annex building, the old Suwon City Hall has also been listed as a registered cultural property. After serving as the Suwon City Hall for 30 years, the building continued to serve the city as an administrative building—first as the Gwonseon-gu Office in 1987 and then as the Family Women’s Hall starting in 2007. Although these two buildings are part of the old city, they continue to stand proud as monuments of Suwon’s administrative history. With the addition of a few key facilities for the good of local residents, the old cultural center and the city hall will continue to tell the story of modern Suwon for generations to come.

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