Located on Sejong-ro, the main street going through the center of Seoul (formerly “Yukjo Street,” the main street along which all major government offices of the Joseon Dynasty were located), is the Sejong Center. The Sejong Center is housed in a hanok-style building and is the main cultural center of Seoul. After the Citizen’s Hall was lost in a fire in 1972, construction began on the Sejong Center in 1974 to provide Seoul citizens with a cultural space of their own. The building was completed and opened to the public in 1978. In 1973, after the Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to build the largest cultural space in Asia (at the time), first-generation Korean architect Um Deok-mun was given the task of designing the building, and in April 1978, the Sejong Center, with a total building area of 16,100 pyeong and investment of KRW 22.1 billion, was finally unveiled. At a time when the uneasy tension between North and South Korea was at its height, the Korean government requested that the building be built as a massive commemorative structure that would outshine the People’s Palace of Culture and Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyeongyang. Contrary to the presidential order that the facility have 5,000 seats, the architect incorporated only 4,200 seats. After a remodeling project, the number of seats in the Sejong Center was further reduced to 3,000.
The design of the Sejong Center reflects a traditional Korean architectural style, giving it its horseshoe-shape structure. The Grand Theater and Chamber Hall are connected by the Sejong M Theater.