Seoul City Wall: The Center of Seoul, a City of History and Culture
Opening Ceremony of 2014 International Symposium on Seoul City Wall
Date October 29th, 2014 | Venue Multi-purpose Hall, Seoul City Hall
It is a great pleasure to be here today. I am the mayor of Seoul, Park Wonsoon. I am honored to be holding the International Symposium on Seoul City Wall today with you, and I am deeply grateful to the citizens and researchers for attending. I would especially like to thank and welcome Dr. Tamás Fejérdy, Massimo Carmassi, Ryu Chunkai, Simiz Shigeatsu, and Nibra Erturk. Seeing so many people here, I can feel a tremendous passion and enthusiasm among you for Seoul City Wall.
Seoul is a beautiful historical and cultural city in which traditions and modernity are mingled together. It is a city where two thousand years of history are alive. Seoul City Wall is a fortress, with Korean traditional thoughts, ideas, and technologies embedded within. It is considered very rare in that it has a unique form and structure harmonized with the surrounding nature.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is therefore pushing forward with enlisting the wall as a UNESCO world heritage site in order to preserve the wall, which has been with us for centuries, and to pass down its precious value to future generations. In November 2012, it was enlisted as a potential world heritage site. We will keep on striving to enlist the Wall as a world heritage site until we get to share its value and meaning with citizens around the world.
In order to preserve and maintain the wall, the government shifted its direction from restoration and reconstruction to preservation of the original, and is implementing the Master Plan for Preservation and Maintenance of Seoul City Wall (2013). Rather than connecting disconnected sections, they are being preserved through visual connections, by repairing signs and marking traces of disconnected sections to facilitate more people visiting the wall. As part of the plan, I moved out of my residence in Hyehwa-dong to another residence. The old residence is becoming a tourist information center of Seoul City Wall.
To cooperate with citizens, 135 citizens have been appointed as guides, and the Seoul City Wall Culture Festival is held every year to connect citizens to the wall and share its value. In addition, the areas around the wall, of which development had been restricted, are being regenerated into historical heritage villages in harmony with the wall.
In order to create a future and pass its value on to the next generation, we are strengthening academic research projects with experts in various fields related to the wall. Moreover, recording and scholarly publications are being carried out to pass on the achievements to future generations. For example, Seoul City Wall Exhibition Hall was opened recently near the Heunginjimum gate to promote its historical and cultural values.
Seoul has been growing into a giant city through rapid development since its liberation from colonization. During its history of glory and shame, parts of the wall and the old city structure have been destroyed. Through continuous efforts, however, we are finding traces of the wall long thought lost to history. These are great references for its context and history.
The English author Shelley once said that history is the poetry of legends written by time on humans’ memories. I don’t think history is something that is just given to us. Only when we all remember, share, and preserve the fruit of our memories, do they finally become history.
This year’s symposium will be a meaningful opportunity to exchange thoughts on the scientific conservation and creative intervention of city walls with experts on cultural heritage preservation. We would like to raise the value of Seoul City Wall by sharing instances where precious historical heritage was saved from destruction, and we would like to find preservation methods suitable to our circumstances. Please share your insights into the preservation of Seoul City Wall. Your concerns and participation will make Seoul a more historical, global, and cultural city. Thank you very much.