Seoul City said it will widen the scope of the academic excavation survey for the ‘Jongmyo Square Sanctuarization Project.’ The survey on the public square, in front of the Jongmyo Royal Shrine, commenced in November 2008 to gather the basic materials for turning the square into a sanctuary.
The Jongmyo Royal Shrine, added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1995, is a Confucian shrine (Historic Site No. 125) dedicated to the memorial services for the deceased kings and queens of the Korean Joseon Dynasty (1392~1910). But, the image of Jongmyo Square has become tarnished due to the disordered activities and facilities there.
The widened survey conducted by the Seoul Museum of History will cover the western part of Jongmyo Square (costing 5 million won) from March to October. So far, Jongmyo Square has presented a shameful visage to the foreign tourists who visit the Jongmyo Royal Shrine because it has been frequently used for social gatherings, street demonstrations and as a place of business for sidewalk vendors. To tackle these problems, Seoul City and Jongno-gu decided to launch the ‘Jongmyo Square Sanctuarization Project’ in 2007 and started cleaning up the square. From November 2008, they began an academic excavation survey to restore the historical and cultural assets in the square.
The project put its focus on restoring a number of cultural assets, including Eodo (a king’s path), Hongsalmun (a red gate leading into the ceremonial area), Hamabi (a commandment stone that requires everybody passing Jongmyo to get off their horse), Eojeong (a king’s well), Pimat-gil and Sulla-gil. Also, Jongmyo Square will be decorated with a cluster of trees similar to those inside the Jongmyo Royal Shrine.
In the future, the Jongmyo Royal Shrine is expected to become a venue that shares the value of history and culture with the citizens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, by building an axis of ‘green culture’ linking Changgyeonggung (Palace), Jongmyo, Seun Arcade and Namsan, it is expected to become one of the most representative sites for history and culture in Seoul for people of all ages.