Slowly, Seoul regains its history, but controversy persists
Home > News > Slowly, Seoul regains its history, but controversy persists
3:36 | 26/05/2012 | 46

Slowly, Seoul regains its history, but controversy persists

But seoul's city wall was strategically built along the ridges of mountains, making the land contained inside the wall higher than that outside of its boundaries"...

Slowly, Seoul regains its history, but controversy persists

Seoul Wall (Hanyang Fortress). Significance : Historic Site No. 10, Completion : 2015

From Gwanghwamun Square to Seoul Station and the new City Hall, the city has been home to many restoration and development projects in recent years at a number not seen since the Park Chung Hee administration.

In the 1970s, the dictator restored historic structures by arguing that they were related to the important issue of national defense.
But in the ensuing decades that brought regime changes and tumultuous democratization movements, preservation efforts simply weren’t a priority for the government or everyday people.

Slowly, Seoul regains its history, but controversy persists

Its efforts are buoyed by increased awareness of cultural properties and the recent Unesco recognition of several Korean heritage sites, including the royal tomb in 2009, as well as by the return of stolen relics, like the case of the Uigwe royal protocol books last year.

Early this month, the government announced that it will continue such initiatives by restoring the Seoul wall by 2015.

“Korea is the only existing castle city in the world”, Mayor Park Won-soon said. “With the restoration, the Seoul wall will be a place of pride and an attraction for foreign tourists”.

A wall of tradition

According to historical records, there was a tradition during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) called sunseong, which literally means circling the fortress. Records say people of Hanyang (now Seoul) walked along the wall in pairs and that walking its entire length took one day.

The tradition carried on during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), but was slightly twisted. A news article from May 14, 1916, said that the merchants of Jongno walked around the fortress believing that this would bring them luck in their businesses.

The wall was first envisioned by King Taejo, the first king of Joseon, when he announced that Hanyang would be the new capital of his territory. First, he ordered the construction of Jongmyo, a shrine for ancestors, and Gyeongbok Palace, a home for himself. To complete his vision, he initiated the building of a protective city wall.

It took 197,470 people drafted from across the country only 49 days to complete the wall in 1396. It was 18 kilometers (11 miles) long and seven meters (23 feet) high.
The location once again gained the attention of the government during the Park Chung Hee era, the officials of which worked to restore it after many years of neglect. Today, about 12 kilometers remain scattered around the city.

Now, it’s going to be worked on again.

By 2015, Korea not only hopes to complete the restoration but also register the fortress as a Unesco cultural property.
For areas that are difficult to restore due to roads or other impeding structures, the city government will construct overpasses, leave special identifying marks or develop other creative alternatives.

“Seoul’s city wall is very unique”, said Ahn Chang-mo, an architecture professor at Kyonggi University. “Most fortress cities in other parts of the world are built on level ground. But Seoul’s city wall was strategically built along the ridges of mountains, making the land contained inside the wall higher than that outside of its boundaries”.

Slowly, Seoul regains its history, but controversy persists

Controversies and concerns

But the return of old Seoul is not without problems. Take, for instance, the heated debate about calligraphy on a signboard hanging on Gwanghwamun.

Gwanghwamun was restored on Aug. 15, 2010, to correct a distortion put in place during the Japanese colonial era. Originally, a hanging signboard was inscribed with Chinese characters as based on an ancient photograph.

The Chinese calligraphy in the photo is thought to be the work of a Joseon commander named Im Tae-young, who was in charge of restoring Gyeongbok Palace after it burned down during the Imjin War between Korea and Japan.

But just three months after the 2010 restoration, a crack was detected on the signboard. The Cultural Heritage Administration made a repair but is now also in the process of making a new one.

Some scholars have taken this opportunity to argue that instead of Chinese, the new signboard should contain Hangul calligraphy, as was the case in 1968 when Park Chung Hee restored the area that was altered during Japanese rule. They say that using Korean words would better embody the Korean spirit the location is meant to represent.

Further complicating the issue, others suggest putting Chinese and Korean together.

There is also a major problem with the restoration of Namdaemun: the budget.

Korea plans to construct a hall to commemorate the original gate, which burned down in 2008, next to the restored Namdaemun. However, while the Cultural Heritage Administration wants the Seoul city government to cover 70 percent of the costs, the Seoul Metropolitan Government wants to split costs with the national government 50-50.

All parties involved view cultural restoration as important, but as with many government initiatives, there are sticking points, especially when it comes to logistics.

Quarrels continue over crumbling treasures
Quarrels continue over crumbling treasures

Seoul Wall (Hanyang Fortress). Significance : Historic Site No. 10, Completion : 2015 From Gwanghwamun Square to Seoul Station and the new City Hall, the city has been home to many restoration and development projects in recent years at a number not seen since the Park Chung Hee administration. In the 1970s, the dictator restored […]

Struggles of girl groups point to crises in K-pop
Struggles of girl groups point to crises in K-pop

Seoul Wall (Hanyang Fortress). Significance : Historic Site No. 10, Completion : 2015 From Gwanghwamun Square to Seoul Station and the new City Hall, the city has been home to many restoration and development projects in recent years at a number not seen since the Park Chung Hee administration. In the 1970s, the dictator restored […]

Perfect autumn weather in Seoul
Perfect autumn weather in Seoul

Seoul Wall (Hanyang Fortress). Significance : Historic Site No. 10, Completion : 2015 From Gwanghwamun Square to Seoul Station and the new City Hall, the city has been home to many restoration and development projects in recent years at a number not seen since the Park Chung Hee administration. In the 1970s, the dictator restored […]

Cultural festival becomes Korea-China bridge
Cultural festival becomes Korea-China bridge

Seoul Wall (Hanyang Fortress). Significance : Historic Site No. 10, Completion : 2015 From Gwanghwamun Square to Seoul Station and the new City Hall, the city has been home to many restoration and development projects in recent years at a number not seen since the Park Chung Hee administration. In the 1970s, the dictator restored […]

TVXQ to go on another global tour
TVXQ to go on another global tour

Seoul Wall (Hanyang Fortress). Significance : Historic Site No. 10, Completion : 2015 From Gwanghwamun Square to Seoul Station and the new City Hall, the city has been home to many restoration and development projects in recent years at a number not seen since the Park Chung Hee administration. In the 1970s, the dictator restored […]

Suzy releases new CF for Lemon Sugar

Suzy releases new CF for Lemon Sugar

Suzy showcases her angelic smile in a recent CF, watch it below:
Seol Kyeong-gu on cherry tomato diet

Seol Kyeong-gu on cherry tomato diet

Actor Seol Kyeong-gu is going on a Cherry Tomato diet to lose weight. He”s losing the weight he gained for a movie, for another movie. Seol Kyeong-gu gained over 10...
[Album Review] Strawberry Milk – “Jackpot”

[Album Review] Strawberry Milk – “Jackpot”

STRAWBERRY MILK The twin members of the adorable band Crayon Pop have formed a sub-unit, Strawberry Milk. With Crayon Pop, Choa and Way had released high-energy, feel-good...
Notre Dame Player With Pornstar: Freshman Wideout Justin Brent Attends Knicks Game With 42-Year-Old Lisa Ann

Notre Dame Player With Pornstar: Freshman Wideout Justin Brent Attends Knicks Game With 42-Year-Old Lisa Ann

(Photo : wikipedia.org) Notre Dame freshman wide receiver Justin Brent attended a New York Knicks game on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden with 42-year-old pornstar, Lisa...
[DEBATE] Do you generally support or oppose idol-turned-actors?

[DEBATE] Do you generally support or oppose idol-turned-actors?

Just the other day, an article about veteran actor Choi Min Soo showing his dislike for singer-turned-actors garnered a lot of attention as netizens agreed with him and...
Fans celebrate BTS” 500th day since debut on Twitter!

Fans celebrate BTS” 500th day since debut on Twitter!

BTS fans are celebrating a special anniversary day for the boys by trending a custom hashtag and flooding pictures of the group on Twitter. Currently, “#BTS500Days”...
Boyfriend to hold first Seoul concert

Boyfriend to hold first Seoul concert

Six-member boy group Boyfriend will hold its first solo concert in Seoul next month, according to its agency, Starship Entertainment.Although it is the group”s first...
Jessica takes photo with Chris Evans, Nicole Kidman, and Jessica Alba

Jessica takes photo with Chris Evans, Nicole Kidman, and Jessica Alba

Former SNSD member Jessica is photographed standing alongside the big-named celebrities as she attended the “2014 Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-AM” on October...
Strawberry Milk release another MV making for “OK”

Strawberry Milk release another MV making for “OK”

Cute twins ChoA and Way who debuted as unit “Strawberry Milk” share another behind-the-scenes of their “OK” MV. The clip is much longer this time,...
SECRET”s Sunhwa and Lee Jang Woo ask fans to watch “Rosy Lovers”

SECRET”s Sunhwa and Lee Jang Woo ask fans to watch “Rosy Lovers”

“Rosy Lovers” co-stars SECRET”s Sunhwa and Lee Jang Woo cuddled up to support the upcoming MBC drama. The two stars, who play a couple in the drama,...
IU says not to worry about her after wisdom teeth removal

IU says not to worry about her after wisdom teeth removal

Singer IU let fans know that they shouldn”t worry about her after her wisdom teeth removal. On October 23, IU wrote to her official fan cafe, “Hi! I”m...
Secret”s Sunhwa and Lee Jang Woo share a couple-like selcas

Secret”s Sunhwa and Lee Jang Woo share a couple-like selcas

Co-stars Secret Han Sunhwa and actor Lee Jang Woo from the new MBC drama “Rosy Lovers”  pose for some sweet selcas and appear like real couple. Sunhwa posted...
Victoria supports and cheers for her Super Junior sunbaes

Victoria supports and cheers for her Super Junior sunbaes

f(x) Victoria makes a visit to her Super Junior sunbae at KBS today showing her support. She uploaded photos with Kyuhyun, Heechul, Kangin, and Eunhyuk taken backstage during...
Super Junior showcase a short acapella version of “This Is Love”

Super Junior showcase a short acapella version of “This Is Love”

Promoting a non-dance track this time, Super Junior take on a challenge by singing a short part of their song “This Is  Love” in acapella. While the vocal...
VIXX take 2nd win with “Error” on Music Bank

VIXX take 2nd win with “Error” on Music Bank

VIXX take home their 2nd win with their new song “Error” at today”s broadcast of KBS Music Bank. The group is up against a strong contender Kim Dong Ryul...
Big Bang releases special stamp sets

Big Bang releases special stamp sets

Special-edition stamps depicting Big Bang will be released later this month in Korea, China and Japan. According to YG Entertainment, the boy group”s agency, three...
Get That K-Pop Look: Jung Eunji's Airport Fashion

Get That K-Pop Look: Jung Eunji's Airport Fashion

Welcome to this week”s Get That K-Pop Look, where we showcase an original K-Pop outfit and give you tips on putting together your own similarly styled, affordable...
'Be Your Own K-Pop Star' With Idol Inspired Halloween Costumes [GIVEAWAY]

'Be Your Own K-Pop Star' With Idol Inspired Halloween Costumes [GIVEAWAY]

  (Photo : *) Enter to win a K-Pop inspired Halloween costume. Calling all cosplayers and Halloween enthusiasts! Kpopstarz has partnered up with Purecostumes.com for...
2NE1 to skip out on all year-end award ceremonies, only CL to perform at “SIA”

2NE1 to skip out on all year-end award ceremonies, only CL to perform at “SIA”

2NE1 will not be attending any of the year-end award ceremonies except for the upcoming “Style Icon Awards” (“SIA“). A rep from YG Entertainment announced...
Sung Joon’s Photoshoot With Ceci Magazine

Sung Joon’s Photoshoot With Ceci Magazine

Actor Sung Joon has wrapped up filming for KBS “Discovery of Love”. Recently, this actor drew attention of people by showing off his allure and manly photoshoots with...