34. House of Yun Geuk-Yeong

Yun Geuk-yeong (1903-1988) wrote lyrics and music for many children’s songs. His nickname is Bandal Harabeoji [meaning “hte grandpa who composed the famous children’s song Bandal” (Half Moon)].

In 1926, he published the country’s first collection of children’s songs, including Bandal. In the same year, a recording was made of these songs. He met Bang Jeong-hwan, a children’s movement activist, in 1923, while studying in Tokyo. The two men organized the Saekdonghoe, an association dedicated to the cultural movement for children. In 1924, he launched the Dalia Society, the country’s first singing group, to encourage Korean children to remember and enjoy the country’s own songs rather than allow themselves to be influenced by Japanese songs. The Dalia Society did much to distribute Korean children’s songs, including Bandal, and performed a children’s musical, In Search of Parangsae (Blue Bird), the first such musical ever performed in the country.

Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to purchase Yun Geuk-yeong’s house, which his son has kept since his demise in 1988, and open it to the public under the name Bandal Harabeoji’s House by June 2015.

33. Bulgwang Blacksmith with 60 Years’ Experience

Bulgwang Blacksmith is one of the remaining blacksmiths left in Seoul. The smiths, Mr. Park Gyeong-won and his son, spend their day striking red-hot pieces of iron on the anvil. They make hammers, axes, and farming tools such as hand hoes, scythes, scrapers, and so on. While the reporter was there, an elderly lady bought a hand hoe to tend her flower bed, and a middle-aged man bought a solid-looking axe, perhaps to prepare firewood for his stove.

Tools made by traditional methods last much longer than their machine-made cousins. That is why stoneworkers and woodworkers have been regular customers here for many years. Nowadays, many things are mass produced and cheap. People discard them easily after using them. Compared with such goods, the things made at this workshop are like works of art. Mr. Park Gyeong-won has stuck to the traditional way of making iron tools for more than sixty years. He is not merely an ironsmith but a craftsman, the reporter thinks.

32. Gimpo International Airport


Gimpo International Airport, the country’s first airport, was built in 1942 and used for military purposes until 1957. It was designated as an international airport in 1958 and, two years later, in 1960, the government took over control of the airport from the U.S. military. Thereafter, the airport served as the main gateway to the country during important international events such as the 1986 Seoul Asian Games and the 1988 Seoul Olympics. With the dramatic increase in the number of young people leaving the country for backpack travel and family members seeing them off at the airport, the authorities encouraged people to hold welcoming and farewell ceremonies at home. Gimpo Airport now serves as a hub airport for domestic flights and is diversifying its business operations by attracting major shopping malls and other commercial facilities.

31. Chungjeong Apartment, the First Apartment in Seoul


This old, green-painted building is situated right next to the sidewalk in Chungjeong-ro. Its ground floor is occupied by various stores. The three nameplates made of different materials at the entrance inform visitors that it is an old building. According to the building register, it was completed in August 1937. It was named Toyota (or Pungjeon in the Korean way) Apartment after the Japanese owner during the colonial period.

The three four-story (with a basement) buildings give on to a triangular courtyard. Its central heating system was an object of envy for many Koreans at that time. During the Korean War, it was used as a facility for North Korean troops and then for UN troops. In 1975, the building was purchased by Seoul Bank and then sold to forty-seven households.

30. Hangnim Dabang (Teahouse) Since 1956

Hangnim Dabang was a popular meeting place for students of Seoul National University who discussed how to carry out the democratization movement over a cup of coffee. It was also a favorite meeting place for people from music, fine art, and drama circles.

The teahouse was opened in 1956 across the street from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Seoul National University (SNU) in Dongsung-dong. Students liked looking at the stream as it flowed by the school compound from their seats near the window on the upper floor of the teahouse. The name of the school’s annual campus festival, Hangnimje, was borrowed from the teahouse.

SNU was relocated elsewhere some time ago, but the teahouse is striving to be reborn as a favorite meeting place for visitors to Daehangno in the neighborhood, seeking integration between tradition and modernity. It holds a regular classical music listening session and encourages its regular customers to keep in regular contact with each other through its home page. Its aims to become a favorite meeting place for people of all ages.

29. Imun Seolnongtang, a Native Dish of Seoul


There are several theories about the origin of the name seolleongtang (ox bone soup), the most plausible being that it stems from the food served immediately after a sacrificial rite held by the king at the Seonnongdan Altar to pray for a good year.

The Imun Seolleongtang restaurant has specialized in this dish since 1904. Regular customers speak highly of the special flavor of the dish served at this restaurant which, unlike other seolleongtang houses, prepares the soup with ox spleen, and also sells cooked ox spleen as a separate dish. Very few restaurants serve the latter dish as most people do not really like its unusual smell or the texture of the mushy meat. The wooden building and its iron cauldron have been replaced with a modern concrete building and an ultra-modern pressure cooker, but locals feel that the ox bone soup served at other houses cannot possibly compare with the dish served here.

28. Choi Sun-u’s Old House, a Model of Simplistic Traditional Beauty



Mr. Choi Sun-u (pen-name: Hyegok; 1916~1984) is regarded as one of the three leading figures from Gaeseong, along with Hwang Su-yeong (a Buddhist art historian) and Jin Hong-seop (a fine art historian). He left his mark on the history of fine arts in Korea in his capacity as the director of the National Museum of Korea and as an art historian.

His book Leaning against the Baeheullim Pillar of Muryangsujeon Hall has become a must-read book for anyone interested in the beauty of Korean traditional architecture. He wrote the book in this house, which is a fine example of the “ㅁ”-shaped Korean-style houses commonly found in Gyeonggi Province. It is presumed to have been built in the 1930s. He lived here from 1976 until 1984. At present, the women’s quarters is used as an exhibition space, the east-wing servants’ quarters as an office, and the west-wing servants’ quarters as a meeting room.

When the house was in danger of demolition due to redevelopment of the area in 2002, the National Trust of Korea raised the necessary funds and took charge of it, preserving as a cultural heritage.

27. Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA)


The building of the Seoul Museum of Art was built during the colonial period in 1928 as Gyeongseong Court on the site of Pyeongniwon (Hanseong Court), the country’s first court. After the country’s liberation, the building was used as the Supreme Court until the latter’s relocation to a new building in Seocho-dong in 1995, and has been used by the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) since 2002.

The building was built on a site elevated by about 6 meters, perhaps to signify the authority of a high court. In 2002, the building was reborn as a modern exhibition space after refurbishment work, although its 1920s façade was fully preserved. It was designated as Cultural Heritage No. 237 in recognition of its architectural and historical significance.

26. Central Hall of Cheondogyo Religion


Three million followers of the Cheondogyo Religion decided to donate 10 won each in order to build the Central Hall. They collected 270,000 won and started the work in July 1919. The hall was completed in February 1921. They gave the rest of the money to the March 1919 Independence Movement.

At first, Cheondogyo’s leader, Son Byeong-hui, planned to build a hall sized 1,200m2. However, the Japanese colonists would not issue a building permit on the pretext that the planned building was too large and looked dangerous, having no supporting columns in the center. The group managed to obtain a building permit by reducing the building’s size by half.

The two-story building is built of red bricks and granite stones and has a four-story central tower.  Total floor size: 700㎡; land size: 1.5 acre. Iron angles were used to install the roof. Accommodation capacity: 1,000 people. Granite stones were brought from a quarry in Changsin-dong. It is also the place where Bang Jeong-hwan (pen-name: Sopa) carried out a movement for children.

25. Ewha Hakdang School


Ewha Hakdang was opened in 1886 by an American missionary named Mary Scranton. At first, she taught a student at her private house in Jeong-dong. In February 1887, Emperor Gojong gave the first girls’ school in the country the name Ewha, literally meaning “pear blossom. A symbol of the royal family, the pear blossom was associated with purity and brightness.

In 1886, the school’s first building, a Korean-style house measuring 600m2 with a tiled roof, was built in Jeong-dong. As the number of students increased, work began to demolish the existing building in 1897 and replace it with a two-story western building, Simpson Hall, which was completed in 1915. The school became the country’s first educational institution, comprising elementary, middle, and high schools, and a university.

In the early 1930s, Ewha Woman’s University was relocated to Sinchon, and its first building, Pffeiffer Hall, was built in 1935 in Sinchon.

24. Paichai Hakdang School


Paichai Hakdang School, a predecessor of Paichai High School, was a modern private school founded by the American missionary Henry G. Appenzeller in 1885. King Gojong presented the school with a hanging board bearing the school’s name, Paichai, meaning a “house for training useful talented people.”

The school helped students from poor households earn tuition fees through jobs created within the school. Meanwhile, Sammun Publishing, operated by Paichai students, strived to enlighten the public by publishing the Dongnip Shinmun (by Seo Jae-pil) and the news bulletin of the Hyeopseonghoe (enlightment movement association).

With the relocation of Paichai High School elsewhere, only the East Wing remains of the original structure built in 1916, which is now used as a history museum.

23. Yakhyeon Cathedral


Towards the end of the 1800s, the area between Malli-dong and Seoul Station was a medicinal herb field (“yakhyeon” in Korean), giving rise to the name of Yakhyeon Cathedral. The western-style building was built on the site where many Catholics were executed.

The country’s 100-year-long persecution of western religions ended in the 1880s. Yakhyeon Cathedral was built in 1892 based on plans drawn up by French priest George Coste. It was the first western-style cathedral built in the country (six years ahead of Myeongdong Cathedral).

It is said that the inside of the cathedral is brighter (with the light shining through the stained glass) than that of any other cathedral in the country. It used to be called the “Main Cathedral outside the four Main Gates of Seoul.” (Myeongdong Cathedral was known as the “Main Cathedral inside the four Main Gates.”)

It was the first christian structure built in the country. As such, it has witnessed the history of Catholicism in Korea from a low hill outside Seosomun for the past 120 years.