SEOUL, KOREA, September 5, 2017 – Now, the citizens and visitors are allowed to walk on the once-closed part of the Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway, one of the most popular pedestrian streets especially during the fall foliage season.
The 100-meter part of the walkway, from the back gate of the British Embassy to Korea to the front of the residential building for the Embassy personnel, had been occupied until recently by the British Embassy since 1959 and remained off-limits to the public for nearly 60 years. However, it has restored and was opened to the public as of August 30, 2017.
Historically, this part of the walkway had been usually used for both congratulatory and funeral ceremonies by King Gojong, the twenty-sixth king of the Joseon Dynasty and the first Emperor of Korea, and King Sonjong, the second and the last Emperor. It also served as the main road leading to the Seonwonjeon Hall, where portraits of former kings were enshrined and where ancestral rites were performed, the Russian Legation, and Gyeonghuigung Palace.
In October 2014, the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) started to request the British Embassy to restore and return it to the public. Then Mayor Park Won-Soon met with then-Ambassador Scott Wightman in November of the same year, and the two had a consensus about the need for its restoration. In May 2015, the SMG and the Embassy signed a memorandum of understanding and have since been working together for the restoration.
Since then, the SMG had repaired the pedestrian roads and wall of this part, and installed new streetlights in cooperation with the British Embassy and the Cultural Heritage Administration.
Because the stonewall walkway that has restored this time is relatively low and more curved, visitors are able to enjoy a more peaceful view of the palace at a very quiet atmosphere. The red-colored wall confronting the stonewall, and British-style red brick-made building make this place more traditional and also exotic. At night, soft and ambient lightings add more picturesque beauty to the palace.
The restored walkway is some 100 meters out of the 170 meter-long walkway on the British Embassy’s compound. Remaining 70 meters are still off-limits. The SMG plans to discuss further with the British Embassy to restore the remaining one as well.
Meanwhile, the Cultural Heritage Administration is working on the restoration of the King Gojong’s Trail, which will be completed within this year. This trail will be connected to the Deoksusung stonewall, Jeongdong Park and finally the Jeongdong-gil, making it an uninterrupted pedestrian road.
Mayor Park said, “It is very meaningful to return some part of the Deoksugung stonewall walkway to our citizens. We expect that this area will be a historic trail and also a signature place where well explains about Seoul City’s vision to become a walkable city.” He also added that he would continue his efforts to restore the remaining part of the walkway in order to make this road an all-connected walkway.