Published Date : Dec 23, 2021 / Edited Date : Oct 18, 2022
Time Travel to Seoul of 100 Years Ago via Stonewall Walkway
When you look across the street from the large grass plaza in front of Seoul City Hall, you can see a stonewall walkway along some sidewalk trees. At the end of the walkway, there is Daehanmun Gate, the main gate of Deoksugung Palace. Inside the street to the left of Daehanmun Gate, you can find beautiful autumn foliage. The street is called “Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway” and it is linked to Jeongdong-gil, another famous walking path in downtown Seoul.
The surrounding area started to be called “Jeong-dong” after “Jeongneung,” the tomb of Queen Sindeok, the second wife of Yi Seong-gye, founder of Joseon. Here King Gojong dreamed of the beginning of the Korean Empire at the end of Joseon dynasty. It is also the first region in Korea where new civilizations arrived as consulates of Western countries began to be established. Keeping the history of the late Joseon dynasty and the painful memories of the Japanese occupation of Korea, Jeong-dong is a large museum in of itself that has the records of the modern history of Seoul.
Jeong-dong has a romantic and relaxing walkway that reminds visitors of Korean history. Let’s enjoy the autumn landscape of Jeong-dong while looking back on the past of a hundred years ago at the center of a rapidly changing Seoul.
A Pleasant Stonewall Walkway
There is a saying that couples that walk together along Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway will end up breaking up. This spread because of Gyeongseong Family Court which was located on the left side of the walkway, currently the site of the Seoul City Hall Annex. In the past, married couples walked down the stonewall walkway together to visit the family court and parted at the Jeong-dong Samgeori (Three-way Intersection) going their separate ways. However, today, many couples visit Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway on their date. One side of the meandering walk is covered by the beautiful traditional stonewall and the other side of it shows a series of modern constructions and gardens, allowing visitors to enjoy the changing landscapes.
Another factor that makes this walkway pedestrian-friendly is the city’s urban architectural measure. It is designated as a one-way road to reduce traffic and the winding road reduces the speed of vehicles. The heights of the roadway and walkway are the same, which makes people feel the walkway as wide. The walkway is also considered as a park with art benches and ceramic tiles, which were established as part of a public art project.
The classic and imposing building of the Seoul Museum of Art shows the harmony of a Renaissance-style front and a modern rear. In fact, this place has been the site of several historic buildings. It was the site of Yugyeong Gongwon, Korea’s first modern educational institution, and Pyeongniwon, Korea’s first modern court. During the Japanese occupation, Gyeongseong Court, designed by Jozaburo Iwai and Keiichi Sasha, was used as the Supreme Court there. Then, the building was reborn as the present Seoul Museum of Art by preserving the appearance of the front and changing the inside.
The preserved portico* of the front of the building and the main building show contrast of two different materials. While the dark brick set like a folding screen creates a background, the bright granite portico in front stands out. The delicate sculptures that form the arches of the entrance and windows show at a glance that they are the European architectural style left in Korea.
* Portico: A colonnade installed in the front or entrance part of a building.
As you enter the building, you will find a bright three-story hall. This hall mediates between the façade* of the preserved building from the 1900s and the interior space of the museum opened in the 2000s. The light shining from the ceiling seems to connect the past and the present. Climbing the wooden stairs from the second to the third floor, you can feel the contrast between the arched windows and modern ceiling.
* Façade: The face of a building, especially the principal front that looks onto a street or open space.
Seoul Museum of Art
61, Deoksugung-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
#Seoul_Museum_of_Art #Seosomun #Renaissance_Style
Korea’s First Western-style School Building in Original Shape From 1910
When you come out from between the administration building of the Seoul Museum of Art and the Seoul Registration Office, you will see a red brick building that looks like a Renaissance-style mansion on a low hill. You can see its back and if you go up the hill next to it, you will reach the front of the building with a large lawn. This building was used as the east pavilion of Paichai Hakdang, the first Western-style school in Korea, initiated in 1885 by Appenzeller, a Methodist missionary from the United States. Built in 1916, it remains as the Appenzeller/Noble Memorial Museum, showing the modern architectural style of the time. The three dormers and the pediment* on the door are impressive.
* Pediment: A triangular ornament used on a roof or door as a distinctive feature of Western classical architecture.
Unlike another school building of the same style, which was built with granite as the main material in the shape of a medieval fortress, this building resembles a typical house built with bricks. It is a two-story building, but the attic and semi-basement makes it have four-story vertical composition. The building is not wide, and it shows a balanced proportion, geometrically structured, symmetrical from the central entrance. If you take a closer look at the window, you can see that the square is divided once more into rectangles to enhance the sense of proportion.
When you reach Jeongdong-gil, you will see a red brick wall that is naturally linked to a stone wall. Under the brick wall that is slightly floating with a colonnade, you may have the curiosity about the interior space. Then, you will find four large pillars that are holding a lintel* inscribed with “Jeongdong Theater” in powerful strokes. Jeongdong Theater is a space that inherits the spirit of modern and contemporary art, continuously develops new performances, and provides high-quality stage performances. It was opened in 1995 to restore “Wongaksa,” the first modern theater of Korea.
* Lintel: A horizontal support across the top of a door or window.
The theater is in the basement and on the first floor, there is a large outdoor yard. The red bricks on the floor are linked to the wall surrounding the building. Just like the courtyard of Deoksugung Palace surrounded by stone walls and trees, the outdoor yard of Jeongdong Theater is surrounded by brick walls and trees, making you feel as if you are in a small garden inside a hanok. On the large front wall, there is “Myth, Play, and Vision of the Planets,” a three-dimensional artwork of Jeon Soo-cheon. A statue of the pansori master Lee Dong-baek of 19th century is stands facing the yard, showing the unique colors of Jeongdong Theater as an art center.
43, Jeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
#Jeongdong_Theater #Brick_Wall #Art_Garden
A Road Engraved with Unforgettable Painful Wounds
Walking along Jeongdong-gil, where the stone walls, historic modern buildings made of red bricks, cafes and shops are standing in harmony, and climbing the hill on the right of the Canadian Embassy in Korea, you will find Jeong-dong Park with the traces of the old Russian legation. The area of Jeong-dong Park was once the site of the Russian legation. The building of the Russian legation was destroyed during the Korean War, and now there remains only a white three-story stone tower. This place is also engraved with the painful event of Korea, that is, Agwan Pacheon.*
* Agwan Pacheon: King Gojong and the crown prince taking refuge in the Russian legation for a year since 1896, feeling threatened after the Queen Min’s Assassination in 1895. “Agwan” here refers to the Russian legation.
Gojonguigil (“the path taken by Gojong”), which runs from Jeong-dong Park to Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway, is the route of passage taken by King Gojong who escaped from the surveillance of Japanese. In commemoration of the 120th anniversary of Agwan Pacheon in 2016, three-meter-wide stone walls were built along the 110-meter path and it was officially opened to the public in 2018. The tall stone walls on both sides obscure the view and make the path quieter. While 120 meters seem short, how long would it have been to King Gojong who had to move without being noticed by Japanese surveillants? How about taking a walk along the path taken by King Gojong to look back on the painful modern history of Korea? The path will remind us of the preciousness of a historical place that we need to restore and protect.
Buildings and architecture form a city, and cities come together to form a country. And that’s why architecture reflects the history and culture of a city as a component of the city. Seoul X Archibear’s A Tour of Seoul’s Streetside Architecture was designed to provide a fresh perspective on the city by sharing the anecdotes of architectural culture while traveling around South Korea’s capital.
Well-built and distinctive architecture can serve as a piece of art carved in our city. And in Seoul, which is rich with diverse history and characteristics, there are beautiful buildings that are worth paying a visit. We hope that this special series helps promote Seoul as an ideal travel destination and invite everyone to experience the hidden architectural beauty in Seoul’s everyday life.
A Tour of Seoul’s Streetside Architecture series was produced by Visit Seoul in collaboration with ArchiBear, a brand created by the architectural culture and travel content company, Haas Studio.
Curious to get more information on architectural tourism in Seoul?
Reservations must be made at least three days prior to the tour date.
Group reservations up to 3people are being accepted on the line.
Additional reservations are?permitted for pre-existing reservations that do not exceed the limited number of three people per group and may be made one day prior to the tour date by 5 PM.
Reservations for the following month are available from the 15th of the current month.
Masks are required for participation in all tour programs.
Please refrain from participating in any tour programs should you be experiencing any symptoms, including fever, coughing, congestion, muscle pain, stuffy nose, and/or sore throat.
Temperature readings will be conducted for all participants prior to the tour. Those with a reading over 37.5°C are prohibited from tour participation.
Reservations for tourists 14 years & under without an accompanying adult or guardian shall be canceled on site.
[As of one day prior to the tour date] All reservations shall be canceled in the event of emergency particulate matter reduction measures taken and/or inclement weather conditions, including excessive heat waves, typhoons, heavy rain, and more, that may impede Seoul Guided Walking Tour operations.
The Seoul Guided Walking Tour administration office and tour guide affiliates are not responsible for any accidents that happen to occur during the tour program.
Reservation shall be made at least 1 week before the tour day.
The course is for tourists with mobility problems (Senior, people with disability, stroller user).
You may not use the course without an assistant (or companion) ※ At least one assistant shall accompany a tourist with mobility problem ※ In case of electric assisting device users (electric wheelchair, electric scooter users), one assistant may accompany up to 4 tourists with mobility problem
Reservation may be canceled when a guide is unavailable on the desired date and course.
Seoul Guided Walking Tour Office (02-6925-0777) will contact you to confirm reservation. (At least 5 days~1 month before tour day) Reservation may be canceled when Seoul Guided Walking Tour Office cannot reach you for more than 3 times.
Seoul Guided Walking Tour Office and Seoul culture and tourism guide are not liable for the safety accidents during the Seoul Guided Walking Tour.
All reservations are canceled when Seoul Guided Walking Tour is unavailable due to Particulate Matter Reduction Measure or other weather conditions (heat wave, typhoon, heavy rain). (As of the date before the tour day)