Stage of Back-door Politics, that Became Part of Traditional Culture: “Samcheonggak”
Under the orders of Korea Central Intelligence Agency, an engineer corps was sent halfway up Bukhansan, the main mountain in Seoul, to build a large-scale hanok (traditional Korean house). This building was named Samcheonggak. The Park Chung-hee regime, which had been negotiating with North Korea to conclude the South-North Joint Communique, built Samcheonggak to host closed-door negotiations with the North, but failed to do so because of the failure to meet the construction deadline. Samcheonggak consists of six structures, including four hanok, built by Korea’s best carpenters and with the highest-quality wood, and Ilhwadang and Yuhwajeong, both notable for their delicate and attractive hanok features. It has been used as a place to host dinners for North Korean representatives, and confidential meetings between high-ranking officials during the military dictatorship, serving as a place symbolizing the closed-door politics of the past. Samcheonggak, which had previously been off-limits to general citizens, was opened as a restaurant in the 1990s, but closed down in 1999 due to financial difficulties. After the restaurant closed down, a luxury villa was planned to be built there, but the plan was never materialized. Later, the building escaped demolition after being designated as a Cultural Heritage Site by Seoul City. After renovations, Samcheonggak was reopened as a traditional cultural performance hall in 2001 to give citizens a place to relax, enjoying Korean culture.