The Memory of the Danginri Line “Seogyo 365”

When Subway Line 2 was first opened, a number of small theaters and unique cafés began to spring up along the entrance to Hongdae (Hongik University). This area soon became the main culture and arts street of Seoul; however, in the 2000s, large stores and cafes begin to flood the area, choking out many of their smaller and more unique competitors. In the midst of these sweeping changes stood Seogyo 365, a cluster of large and small shops lining the railroad tracks that wound among the bustling streets.

The buildings of Seogyo 365, which still stand proud in what was once known as 365 Seogyo-dong, were built in the 1970s along the Danginri railroad tracks, which have since disappeared from existence.
The low-rise buildings of Seogyo 365 stand at only two or three stories high and vary in width from 2 to 5 meters, making for a unique cityscape in this relatively modern area that continues to change. Even before the old Danginri Railway was closed, the buildings of Seogyo 365 were slated for demolition, but local residents, merchants, and architects fought to protect and preserve the historic area. The future of Seogyo 365 still remains somewhat uncertain—the fate of this charming area rests on the shoulders and patronage of tourists to the Hongdae area.

The Beginning of the Development of Gangnam “Hannamdaegyo Bridge”

Hannamdaegyo Bridge was originally known as the Third Hanganggyo Bridge. It was renamed during the Comprehensive Hangang Development Project in 1985. As a gateway to the Gyeongbu Express Way, Hannamdaegyo Bridge served as a way to help relieve some of the anxiety people felt after the war—giving city residents another way to flee across the river in the case of an emergency. The bridge was also built as a way to indirectly relieve some of the problems of overpopulation that plagued the Gangbuk area.

Construction of the Third Hanggangyo Bridge began in 1966 and was followed the next year by the opening of the Gyeongbu Expressway, both of which ushered in the development of the Gangnam area. The value of the land in Gangnam began to skyrocket around the time that the bridge was completed, leading to the emergence of “bokbuin” (women who made huge profits from real estate speculation) and the myth of Maljuk-geori (Horse-feed Street).

Prior to construction of the bridge, commuter boats had been the only means of transportation between Gangbuk and Gangnam. Yet now, the Hannamdaegyo Bridge, which has been widened to twice its original size, welcomes crowds of people to the ritzy Gangnam area as it quietly keeps the secrets of more difficult days long gone by.

The Transformation of the Public Facilities in Suwon “Family Women’s Hall”

The Paldal-gu area, an older section of the city, still contains the remnants of modern architecture built during the Japanese colonization of Korea. One of the buildings from this time that has been well preserved and maintained is the annex building of the Suwon Family Women’s Hall, which has also been designated a local landmark. Estimated to have been built at the end of the 1920s, this building was listed as a national registered cultural property in 2014 in recognition of its historical importance. With the exception of a few changes, the building has been maintained in its original form. When the building was first transferred to the Suwon City Government, it was used as a city government building, but was then used as the Suwon Cultural Center after the new city government building was constructed to the rear.
Along with the annex building, the old Suwon City Hall has also been listed as a registered cultural property. After serving as the Suwon City Hall for 30 years, the building continued to serve the city as an administrative building—first as the Gwonseon-gu Office in 1987 and then as the Family Women’s Hall starting in 2007. Although these two buildings are part of the old city, they continue to stand proud as monuments of Suwon’s administrative history. With the addition of a few key facilities for the good of local residents, the old cultural center and the city hall will continue to tell the story of modern Suwon for generations to come.

A space where time stands still, “Seonyudo Park”

Halfway across Yanghwadaegyo Bridge, which connects Hapjeong-dong and Dangsan-dong, there is a park floating on the river like a huge ship. Once the site of a water purification plant that supplied drinking water to the southwestern district of Seoul, when it was closed, the plant was reborn as Seonyudo Park, an ecological space on the Hangang River, using some of the old plant structures. By recycling industrial
facilities that have become obsolete, the history of this once famous spot on the Hangang River has been revived, and thus people call the Seonyudo Park as the “resurrection of the past.” The park fully utilizes the old structures of the water purification plant and features four thematic parks connected through a water circulation system and botanical garden. After eight months of design work and one and half years of construction, the small island that is home to Seonyubong Peak was transformed into an eco-friendly urban park. Through the industrialization and urbanization of Seoul, numerous industrial facilities have come to sprawl across the city, but as Korea’s electronics industry has grown, they become obsolete and have been, or are about to be, demolished.

However, through an agreement between citizens and specialists, the Seonyu Water Purification Plant was reborn as an urban park, a remarkable event that saw the city regain a once famous attraction on the Hangang River.

The Gandhi of Korea, “Ham Seok-heon Memorial Hall”

Ham Seok-heon’s House in Ssangmun-dong, Dobong-gu, will open its doors in September to serve as a memorial hall. After a year of remodeling, the old house where Ham once lived has been modified into an exhibition room and various spaces for citizens, while preserving as much of its original form as possible.

The memorial hall contains 400 relics, including books Ham read, books he wrote, his daily supplies, and video reels and audio recordings of his lectures. Also, it features a greenhouse, where the plants and flowers that he planted and tended still grow, as well as guest rooms where visitors can stay overnight, a feature which distinguishes it from other such memorial houses.

Known as the “Gandhi of Korea” and “a man who shouts into the wilderness,” Ham is still remembered by many people, who pay tribute to him as such. In the memorial hall, the story of Ham Seok-heon is reborn as the voice of seeds.”

The first private school in Suwon, “Adams Memorial Hall”

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, with a total length of 5.7 kilometers and spanning an area of 1.2 square meters, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the masterpiece of King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty and features dozens of facilities, including four gates, especially Paldalmun Gate.

Near Hwahongmun Gate, north of Hwaseong, there remain the vestiges of Suwon’s vivid history of modern education. In the middle of the campus of the old Samil School, which has been expanded into a middle school, commercial high school, and industrial high school, stands Adams Memorial Hall, which was a school building during Korea’s modernization period.

This school building was constructed in 1923, the year of the 17th anniversary of the opening of the Samil School, which made its start by holding classes in just a few rooms in a church. Minister Nobel, who managed churches in Suwon at the time, began construction of the school with the support of the Adams Church, after which the Adams Memorial Hall was named.

Operating out of church buildings, Samil School started teaching dozens of students, and with the assistance of western missionaries, a new school building (now Adams Memorial Hall) was built to accommodate hundreds of students.

During the Japanese colonial period, the founders of Samil School were dedicated to saving their homeland through education, and their noble ideal has been cherished here for 100 years.

The cradle of secondary education, “Jeongdok Public Library”

Trekkers down from Inwangsan Mountain or tourists to Bukchon often visit this famous spot in Hwa-dong, Jongno-gu.

It was the location of Kyunggi High School, the most renowned school for elite students in the 1980s, and became Jeongdok Public Library when the school moved to Gangnam.

It is also the scene depicted in Inwangjesaekdo (“After Rain at Inwangsan Mountain”) painted by the famous Jeong Seon of the late Joseon Dynasty, Korea’s 216th national treasure. At the time of its construction, the school building was equipped with modern facilities, such as steam heating, and was later designated as a registered cultural property.

In 1976, when Kyunggi High School moved to Gangnam, the school was renovated to serve as a public library for citizens. The school held its last commencement ceremony on the 75th year since its foundation.

Now, the old school yard serves as a place for students and citizens to reminisce and remains a place infused with youth and love, especially for those who spent their youth here in the 1970s and 80s.

Bank buildings of the Incheon Treaty-Port era, “18th and 58th Bank Buildings”

During Korea’s modernization period, the street in front of Incheon’s Jung-gu Office was the center of Japanese leased territory. Shaped like a grid, the street was also the center of Japanese finance in Incheon.

In front of the old Japanese consulate (presently Jung-gu Office), there were three private banks. The numbers attached to the banks were their license numbers according to the ordinance of the national bank of Japan.

After Korea’s liberation, the 18th Bank building housed banks and commercial offices, but is now used to exhibit modern architecture from the Incheon Treaty-Port era and houses miniatures of modern architectural structures that have been lost or preserved. Just next to it stands a two-stry stone building that was once the 58th Bank, with its head office in Osaka.

The interior of these buildings have been changed somewhat due to repairs and renovations carried out so they could be used as banks and offices, but the exterior walls and pillars and left and right vertical windows still retain their original shapes and styles. These Japanese financial institutions were regarded as forward bases for exploitation; however, during Incheon Treaty-Port era, and even now, they attract the attention of citizens and tourists as cultural properties reminiscent of Korea’s past.

Site of the Student Independence Movement, “Seungdong Church”

If you walk from Tapgol Park through the small alleys toward the entrance of Insa-dong, you will find Seungdong Church, which was a main building in the area before the street became known as Insa-dong. Though it is now overshadowed by skyscrapers, it was once a magnificent monument erected against the backdrop of Bukhansan Mountain. Through an expansion project to increase the number of seats near the main gate, the round and arched windows at the facade of the church were removed, and the two entrances were combined into one. Though it has lost much of its original form through such modifications, the main building has been designated as a Tangible Cultural Property of Seoul Metropolitan City for its historical value as the starting place of the March 1st Independence Movement in 1919. At a time when there was strict discrimination between the nobles and commoners, Seungdong Church appointed a butcher, then the lowest social class, to the position of church elder, according to the spirit of Christianity, and such idealism was translated into the birth of the independence movement. Now, the church stands silently tall in Insa-dong, the street of Korean culture.

Defender of Korea’s national cultural heritage, “Gansong Jeon Hyeong-pil’s House”

On a desolate mountain road in Banghak-dong, Dobong-gu, where the Bukhansan Mountain trail begins, there sits Gansong Jeon Hyeong-pil House, the restoration of which has been underway since it was designated as a registered cultural property in 2012. After his uncle, who had raised him, died, Gansong built a tomb near the house and continued the family business, and now he is buried here as well. Built around 1900, the traditional Korean house served as the base from which his father, a major landowner, controlled crops in Hwanghae-do and Chungcheong-do. After the death of Gansong, the main house in Jongno-gu was demolished and repair work was carried out on Jeon Hyeong-pil House using the materials collected from the main house. However, the house became abandoned and suffered severe damage since the 1970s. Gansong was a collector of cultural relics, and although the scale of his collection, gathered over several decades, is not known exactly, they include many national treasures. During the Japanese colonization period, when Japanese collectors aggressively acquired cultural properties of the Joseon Dynasty from all across Korea, leveraging their money and power, Gansong practiced the generosity and nobility befitting his class. Inside the restored house, one can sense his ideal and the passion with which he tried to preserve the essence of Korean culture.

The first Catholic medical center in Korea, “Catholic Center”

The Catholic Medical Center was opened in 1936 with 25 beds in a wooden two-story building, and three years later, it was renamed “Myeongdong St. Mary’s Hospital.” It is now called the Catholic Center and is located at the intersection of Samil-ro and Myeongdong-gil, a street bustling with 1.5 million people every day.

The initial purpose of the center, which had long been the façade of Myeong-dong along with Myeong-dong Cathedral, was to serve as Myeongdong St. Mary’s Hospital, the nation’s first catholic hospital. It was also the first building to use aluminum curtain walls in Korea. The curtain walls were made by folding aluminum plates (for the inner walls of the partitions) by hand on the construction site. In 1961, a new hospital, featuring 75 curtain wall units and 300 beds, was completed. And in 1966, an annex building was built next to the main building, but later on, the hospital was relocated to Yeouido, after having stood in Myeong-dong for 50 years. Since then, the building has been transformed into a catholic center filled with offices and other facilities. The modern design of the old St. Mary’s Hospital contrasts with Myeong-dong Cathedral, and its original architecture has been relatively well preserved, symbolizing the experimentalism of an architect who tried to modernize architectural technology in Korea’s past.

The birth of Jajangmyeon, “Incheon Gonghwachun”

When Incheon became the leased territory of Qing China in 1884, the first Chinatown in Korea was built. This Chinatown is the symbol of the Incheon Treaty-Port era, when the area became filled with Chinese foods and culture. jajangmyeon, the first food Koreans regularly went out to eat, was originally noodles mixed with the soybean paste of Shandong Province and was a quick meal eaten by Chinese laborers working on the piers of Incheon Port.

The old Gonghwachun building was designated as a registered cultural property in 2006 and became a museum of jajangmyeon in 2012. Known as the birthplace of jajangmyeon, Gonghwachun has been revived as a popular destination in Incheon Chinatown. The museum preserves the history of jajangmyeon and the overseas Chinese who, at the time of the opening of the port, emigrated to Incheon to seek out the “Korean Dream.” The museum building, erected around 1908, is a two-story house with a courtyard built in a Chinese style, featuring brick walls and a wooden-trussed roof (10.18 meters high). The founder, Woo Hee Gwang, moved to Incheon from Shandong in 1907 and built the Shandong Center, an accommodation facility for Chinese merchants that was later renamed to “Gonghwachun” in 1913. At that time, jajangmyeon was a common food for laborers working on the piers, but has now become a beloved localized Chinese dish with about seven million serving consumed daily at 24,000 Chinese restaurants nationwide. From the Treaty-Port era to the mid-1980s, when the port was closed, Gonghwachun prospered and became a popular destination in Incheon. Now, it is a special museum that preserves the old memories of Incheon Port.