There is a figure who played a decisive role to promote the fierce independence movement of Korea and the brutality of Japan on March 1, 1919. It is Albert Wilder Taylor, a temporary correspondent of the Associated Press and the first person to disseminate overseas the Declaration of Independence of the March 1st Movement.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) completed its restoration of Dilkusha, the house which Albert W. Taylor built and lived in while in Seoul, and opened it to citizens on Mon, Mar. 1 as a historical museum in commemoration to serve as a reminder of the spirit of independence. It has been about 80 years since Albert W. Taylor was expelled by Japan in 1942 and the house abandoned.
Located in Haengchon-dong, Jongno-gu, Dilkusha is a red-bricked Western-style house with a basement and two stories built by Albert W. Taylor (1875–1948) in 1923 while living in Seoul. It was designated as National Registered Cultural Property No. 687 in August 2017. The name of the house “Dilkusha” means “Palace of Heart’s Delight” in Sanskrit, named so by his wife Mary Linley Taylor.
Albert W. Taylor, the owner of Dilkusha, came to Korea (then Joseon) in 1896. He worked as a supervisor of a gold mine in Unsan, Pyeongan-do Province and operated a gold mine in Chungcheong-do Province. He also worked as a special correspondent of the Associated Press, and contributed to reporting the brutality of the Japanese Empire to the international community by covering the March 1st Movement and reporting the Jeam-ri Massacre.
In 1919, when his wife gave birth to their son, he discovered a copy of the Declaration of Independence of the March 1st Movement from a bed in Severance Hospital. He hid the copy under the bed of his newborn son and reported it to the world inconspicuously avoiding the surveillance of the Japanese Empire.
After the Taylors were expelled by the Japanese Government-General of Korea according to the deportation order of foreigners in 1942, Dilkusha had long been abandoned and dilapidated.
The SMG signed an MOU with related institutions (i.e. Ministry of Economy and Finance, Cultural Heritage Administration, Jongno-gu Office) in 2016 for the restoration of Dilkusha. The SMG conducted research in 2017, started restoration in 2018, and completed construction in December 2020 to create the Dilkusha Museum.
The living rooms on the 1st and the 2nd floor of the Dilkusha Museum were restored to show how they looked when the Taylors lived in the house. The rest of the space was reborn into six exhibition rooms to shed light on the living arrangement of the Taylors in Korea and the reporting activities of Albert W. Taylor.
In addition, Dilkusha is an archetype that shows the western architectural method and mode of living in Korea during the 1920s and 30s. The house was built using “rat-trap bond,” a unique French brick masonry method of wall construction, in which bricks are placed in vertical position, and has great significance in Korean history of architecture.
The opening ceremony of Dilkusha Museum was held in the front yard at 4 PM on Fri, Feb. 26, 2021. It is open to the public starting on Mon, Mar. 1, 2021. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9 AM to 6 PM. Admission is free, but visitors should make an online reservation for a guided tour (four sessions per day, 20 individuals per session). Reservations can be made on the SMG’s Reservation for Public Service website (yeyak.seoul.go.kr).