600-year-long History of the Seoul City Wall Museum Featured in One Place
Opening Ceremony of the Seoul City Wall Museum
Date July 31, 2014, Venue, Seoul Design Support Center, Dongdaemun Castle Walls Small Park
I am very pleased to see you all here today. I am Park Won Soon, mayor of Seoul. I am delighted to congratulate you, along with all citizens, on the opening of the Seoul City Wall Museum at this castle park, from which Naksan Mountain Trail begins. Few cities still have a city wall right next to the downtown area like Seoul. With rapid urbanization, city walls in most cities around the world in both Eastern and Western nations have disappeared. Few cities around the world, including Beijing, Tokyo, Paris, or Rome, have preserved the city walls as perfectly as Seoul. The reason that the well-preserved city hall still remains in this city is that it was built following the ridges of the four main mountains surrounding the center of Seoul.
Seoul City Wall is a cherished cultural heritage, built in harmony with nature, as well as a compelling element of the cityscape. It is also a great cultural milestone, and forms part of an eco trail for citizens. Surely it deserves to be called the pride of Seoul.
However, the wall is no longer what it used to be. It was damaged under the name of modernization during the Japanese colonial rule and the time of great tumult following the Korean War, and much of the original shape has disappeared following reconstruction work. This is unfortunate and deeply regrettable. As soon as I took office, I began in earnest to work to revive the Seoul City Wall to make it a living symbol and the pride of Seoul. Through our comprehensive plan, ‘Creating a historical city, Seoul’, which is designed to bring our city’s history back to life, we are attempting to accomplish our goal of perfect preservation of the wall steadily, one step at a time.
While preserving and maintaining the original form of the wall, we began connecting the broken sections, turning the story of the wall into a tourism asset, and developing neighborhoods nearby the wall. We also made the Seoul City Wall Guidebook, a comprehensive guide to the project. However, those tasks simply could not be accomplished with the effort of the city alone. They were the result of cooperation between private experts, civic organizations, and local residents, and the public and private sectors will join us on this journey.
Today’s opening of the Seoul City Wall Museum is also part of our efforts. The historical museum will allow visitors to honor the past and present of the wall, realizing its true meaning and value. Although it is impossible to bring the 600-year history and 18.6 kilometers-long fortress into this small place, we will continue to steadily build information centers one at a time, with the museum as a foothold, telling a story of each section winding along the wall. To do this, I emptied the official residence of the mayor in Hyehwa-dong. Starting here in Naksan, the information center will be set up at the foot of Inwangsan and Namsan Mountain in the near future.
Of course, it may seem much greater to construct a new landmark for the city; however, it is also valuable and important to discover and preserve the hidden treasures we already possess, bringing their energy into our daily lives and transform them into renowned landmarks. With the opening of the museum today, we will go full speed ahead on this valuable project.
I appreciate the stakeholders of Seoul Museum of History for your hard work in helping us open the museum. Thank you so much. I would like to ask for your endless affection and efforts so that the Seoul City wall can be with Seoul citizens forever. I also politely ask for the sincere interest and cooperation of all of those who are attending the ceremony today. I will do everything in my power to assist you. Once again, I congratulate you on the opening of the Seoul City Wall Museum. Thank you.