Which landmark is synonymous to Seoul?
Some asked me to build a skyscraper in Seoul. Others suggested I build an opera house.
I guess they could be necessary at times.
These things cannot represent Seoul, however.
Seoul has six hundred years’ history, Bukhansan (Mountain) and Dobongsan (Mountain), and Seoul Fortress Walls. Still, I am reminded of the meaningful heritages that we failed to protect, or even destroyed with our own hands.
Therefore, I have decided to restore such precious valuable heritages during my time as mayor of Seoul.
The Yulgok-ro area will be one of the sites.
As recently as 1931, the path from Jongmyo Shrines and Changgyeonggung Palace was surrounded by beautiful, lush greenery protected by walls.
Note, however, that the walls were undone during the Japanese colonial rule to make way for Yulgok-ro.
Seoul Metropolitan Government will restore 498 meters of the old wall by the end of next year.
Once it is complete, the wall will be restored after 83 long years. Joseon Gojeokdo (picture of Joseon’s heritage sites) published in 1931 and Donggwoldo (picture of the east palace) drawn in 1907 will be used as reference in the restoration process.
After numerous technical reviews, it has been decided that all the walls will be restored in the original location. We have had specialists from the Cultural Heritage Administration and Cultural Relic and Historic Site Committee, and architects were asked for their advice and review.
The foundation will be a perfect replica of the original, but there will be a tunnel covered with dirt and greens at the 300-meter mark.
The garden above the tunnel will have different oak tree species, hackberries, lace shrubs, azaleas, and other indigenous flora that also grow in Changgyeonggung Palace and Jonmyo Shrine.
The path inside the tunnel will have bicycle-only lanes and pedestrian roads on both sides.
Bukshinmun Gate, a structure replaced with a Japanese-style overpass when the colonial government separated the palace from Jongmyo Shrine in 1931, will be restored as part of the project.
Kings were said to have used this gate when paying Jongmyo Shrine an unofficial visit.
And another thing!
The road structure of Yulgok-ro in front of Changgyeonggung Palace will be improved, too.
The 690-meter bottleneck area between Donghwamun Gate and Wonnam Junction was always congested; due to its close proximity to a protected heritage site, however, expanding is out of the question. Nonetheless, we found a way around the regulation, and the road will be a 6-lane street once the construction is complete.
Suffice it to say, we caught two birds with one stone.
We hope to improve Seoul, a capital with 600 years’ history, by restoring lost cultural heritages that were damaged during the colonial rule. As you can see, the city is recovering its charm one bit at a time.