Systematic protection of cultural heritage items inside the four main gates, iconic structures for Seoul’s history and culture
In order to make Seoul, literally a city of history, Seoul City is mapping out measures to systematically protect cultural heritages inside the city’s four ‘Great Gates.’ The four gates are Heunginjimun (Dongdaemun) in the east, Donuimun (Seodaemun) in the west, Sungnyemun (Namdaemun) in the south and Sukjeongmun in the north. Since Seoul had been surrounded by a wall and the four gates as a capital of the Joseon Dynasty for about 500 years, there are a number of valuable cultural properties inside the four gates.
Besides efforts to protect and preserve cultural properties inside the four gates, Seoul has aggressively implemented projects to preserve traditional structures, including hanok (traditional Korean houses) and narrow streets, in areas where cultural assets are packed. As part of such work, Seoul launched a project to preserve Bukchon, a village replete with hanok. The project led Seoul to win an Award of Distinction in the 2009 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards in August last year.
However, as Seoul is renovating its downtown and valuable relics of the Joseon Dynasty are found in the process of the renovation projects, the city concluded that existing measures have a limit to comprehensively protect cultural properties. Accordingly, the city is drawing up the ‘Comprehensive Conservation Measures’ for cultural properties inside the four gates.
The comprehensive measures call for Seoul to map out ways to protect cultural assets in each area inside the four main gates, to comprehensively preserve and manage discovered relics and to build and provide a transparent database of excavation works. Those measures are expected to let construction firms know whether there are cultural assets in areas where they plan to renovate. So, the measures are expected to prevent a delay in a renovation project and a resulting increase in costs stemming from a sudden discovery of cultural relics.