The Freedom Center and International Freedom Hall were constructed on Namsan Mountain in the early 1960s by the military regime installed after the May 16 coup, which aimed to make Korea the main anti-communist outpost in Asia. At the time, it was a large-scale national memorial, but today, the Freedom Center is only remembered as one of architect Kim Swoo-geun’s earliest works.
The center (with one underground floor and seven aboveground floors) was originally built to be the main building of the Asia Anti-Communism Federation with an exposed mass concrete technique, which uses only bare concrete as the facing. However, today’s Freedom Center is covered in a coat of paint that completely conceals the concrete, which itself had been a symbol of the building’s commemorative function. First attempted by Swiss-French master of modern architecture Le Corbusier, the exposed mass concrete technique was applied to many subsequent works by his disciple, Kim Chung Up, as well as Kim Swoo-geun, leading the 1960s to become known as the “era of exposed mass concrete.” The Freedom Center’s structural beauty consists of a cantilever (a beam that protrudes from a wall or column) that turns up toward the sky—at a distance equal to that from the roof to the ground—and a massive colonnade. The central stairway that connects to the lobby area emphasizes the building’s authority.