45. Bumingwan, a Composite Cultural Space in Gyeongseong


In 1935, Bumingwan, the country’s first multi-purpose performance venue, was built opposite the Gyeongseong-bu Office (present-day Seoul City Hall). The building, which is currently used as the Seoul City Council building, was an ultra-modern building equipped with heating and air-conditioning systems, a 1,800-seat auditorium, and ancillary halls.

The opening of a municipal facility dedicated to the performance arts led to the invigoration of creative stage dramas. After the country’s liberation, the building was used as the National Assembly building. With the launch of the local autonomy system, the building came to be used by the Seoul Metropolitan Council. It is one of the few landmark buildings dating back to early modern period left in Seoul.

44. Jeonggwanheon in Deoksugung Palace, a Royal Tea House


Around 1900, Emperor Gojong ordered the overall repair of such buildings as Jeonggwanheon Hall, Dondeokjeon Hall, Guseongheon Hall, Jungmyeongjeon Hall, Hwanbyeokjeong Hall, in Deoksugung Palace. The restoration work took seven years to complete.

Jeonggwanheon Hall was built in 1900 at the highest point in the palace grounds as a venue for the king’s entertainment. After Seonwonjeon Hall, a building where the portraits of former kings were kept, was destroyed by fire in 1901, Jeonggwanheon Hall was used temporarily to keep the portrait of King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, under the name Gyeongundang Hall.

Jeonggwanheon Hall, the country’s first western-style building, built with high-quality materials by first-rate architects, may be regarded as a representative structure of Imperial Korea.

43. Ttukseom Reservoir (Water Supply Source)


When was the piped water supply started in Seoul? With the opening up of the country towards the end of the 19th century, the population of Hanyang (present-day Seoul) increased rapidly. Small streams and neighborhood wells were mostly contaminated; epidemics spread rapidly. Foreigners in the country, where the piped water supply was not started yet, had to buy clean potable water from people carrying ceramic water jars in a wooden frame on their backs.

In 1903, Emperor Gojong granted the right to install a piped water supply system to Americans H. Collbran and H. Bostwick, who started the country’s first power supply business. Ttukseom Reservoir was thus completed in 1908.

The piped water supply system was closely associated with the power supply. Power was needed to operate a steam turbine to supply water to distant places. Ttukseom was selected as the site of the reservoir, as it was a suitable place to take clean water from the Hangang (River) and collect firewood used for power generation for the steam turbine.

The purified piped water was supplied to places within the four main gates to Seoul and the Japanese military base in Yongsan.

42. Seoul Meteorological Observatory


The country’s first modern meteorological observation was carried out at the Incheon Meteorological Observatory founded by Imperial Japan right before the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). However, Imperial Korea (1897-1910) also started making meteorological observations on its own around that time. Meteorological observatories were also erected in Pyongyang and Daegu in 1907.

In 1949, the Central Meteorological Office (CMO) was established. In 1990, the CMO was upgraded to the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA).

The Seoul Meteorological Observatory building was first built eighty years ago as the Gyeonggi-do Municipal Gyeongseong Rain Gauge Station and has been used as a meteorological observation station ever since. The building is an early-modern hexagonal structure with a round column at the center.


40. Nakwon Musical Instruments Arcade

By the late 1960s, Seoul needed to make wider roads with the rapid increase of the population. Seoul City decided to build a four-lane road linking Yulgok-ro with Jongro and a multi-purpose apartment above the road as part of an effort to meet the new demands.

That was how the Nakwon Musical Instruments Arcade came into being as an unprecedented building above a road in 1969. It also had a cinema and a bowling alley, in addition to being the country’s largest musical instruments arcade. In the 1970s and 1980s, it became a favorite destination of young lovers and the No.1 composite cultural facility in Seoul. Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to renovate the arcade as a historical and cultural heritage site.

41. Chungdong First Methodist Church


American missionary Henry G. Appenzeller, who founded Paichai Hakdang, a predecessor of Paichai High School, in 1885, also founded the country’s first Protestant church Bethel Yebedang (chapel), using a private Korean house in October 1887. This ultimately gave rise to Chungdong First Methodist Church.

39. The Salvation Army Building


The old Central Hall of the Salvation Army is now used as the Salvation Army History Museum. The four columns of the entrance and the roof create a strong impression as an imposing structure. The porch flooring is made of concrete slabs. The corridors and stair railings are made of wood. The offices are on the first floor and worship services spaces are on the second floor. Triangular wooden beams support the ceiling, which displays a unique esthetic quality. Bramwell Booth, the first Chief of Staff of the Salvation Army, paid a visit to Korea in 1926. Then, members of the American Salvation Army raised funds in commemoration of his 70th birthday and spent them on the construction of this building. The work was started in November 1927 and completed in 1928. The building was used as the Salvation Army College for Officer Training until 1989. Part of its spaces came to be used for the Salvation Army Korea Territory and the building was called the Central Hall of the Salvation Army.

38. The French Embassy in Seoul


The French Embassy building is said to be the acme of contemporary architecture in Korea. The architect Kim Jung-eup, who designed the building aged 38, said, “With this work, I took my first steps as an architect.” In fact, Kim Jung-eup gained the contract by winning the open competition for the design of the embassy building organized by French Ambassador to Seoul Roger Chambard.

Kim Jung-eup spent most of his time at the construction site. The building was completed in 1962 after three years of work. The most noticeable thing about the building is the roof separated from the body of the building. The gentle upward curve of the roof looks like the eaves of a traditional Korean house. The bulky columns supporting the roof exude a grandiose air.

The construction of the French Embassy building marked a turning point in the contemporary architecture of Korea.


37. Gilsangsa Temple

This temple is located in a neighborhood at the foot of Samgaksan (referring to the three peaks, namely, Baegundae, Insubong, and Mangyeongbong, of Bukhansan Mountain). Even its entrance has a unique atmosphere unlike that of other temples. Its entrance consists only of an Iljumun (One Pillar Gate) with a lofty roof, while ordinary temples are supposed to have a Sacheonwangmun (Gate of the Four Heavenly Kings) and a Burimun (Gate of Non-Duality) at the entrance.

Until the 1970s, the Gilsangsa Temple used to be an upscale gisaeng (Korean geisha) house where politicians engaged in closed-door meetings. Its owner, Kim Yeong-han (1916~1999; aka Jinhyang), became a gisaeng at the age of 16. At 22, she met the poet Baek Seok, whom she came to regard as the love of her life. The two met each often for years, but she could not marry him due to her social status as a gisaeng. Later, the poet defected to the North and never returned.

Left alone in the South, she applied herself to academic research. In the 1950s, she opened a Korean restaurant, Daewongak, in Seongbuk-dong. The restaurant came to be known as one of the three leading gisaeng houses in Seoul in the 1970s, when closed-door politics reached its extreme.

After discovering the non-materialistic philosophy taught by Monk Beopjeong, she decided to donate the Daewongak to him in 1987, but he flatly rejected her proposal.  However, she persisted for ten years until, finally, the monk gave in and it was transformed into Gilsangsa Temple.

36. The Atelier of Gwon Jin-Gyu, a Specialist in Terracotta Sculptures


This atelier was made over a period of two years by sculptor Gwon Jin-gyu, who produced his artworks here from 1959, the year in which he returned home from Japan, until his death in 1973. Gwon specialized in realist terracotta sculptural works. After his death, Korean artistic circles named him a representative sculptor of the late 20th century. His sister donated the atelier to Seoul City, which is responsible for repairing and preserving it, in 2006. It is registered as a Seoul Cultural Heritage.

35. The Art Museum of Park No-Su, a First-Generation Artist of Korean Painting


The house of painter Park No-su (1927-2013), located at 34, 1-gil, Okin-dong, will be opened to the public as the Park No-su Art Museum and run by the Jongro-Gu Office. The building was built by an architect named Park Gil-ryong around 1937, using a combination of Korean and western styles. Mr. Park No-su lived in the house from 1973 until 2011.

The first floor consists of ondol-heated rooms and a wooden floor space, while the second floor consists of a wooden floor space, along with three fireplaces. The house has been expanded and repaired on several occasions, and has been registered as Seoul City Cultural Heritage Material No.1.

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.