Seoul, Together we stand (3min 8sec)
Birthplace of the Youth Cultural Movement: Seoul YMCA
After the conclusion of the Eulsa Treaty in 1905, many patriots wanted to materialize their passion for independence and civilization through the YMCA movement. Their request to the International Committee of the Young Men’s Christian Associations of North America to establish a YMCA branch in Korea through the two missionaries Underwood and Appenzeller led to the creation of the Hwangseong Young Men’s Christian Association (today’s Seoul YMCA) in 1903. However, the Japanese Governor-General of Korea forcibly renamed the ‘Hwangseong Young Men’s Christian Association’ to the “Joseon Central Young Men’s Christian Association” and scrapped some of its education programs. Seoul YMCA, however, did not despair under such hardship and focused its energy on strengthening Koreans’ capabilities and skills and encouraging their enlightenment. It also engaged in an economic reform movement to revitalize the national economy. In 1967, after liberation from Japan, Seoul YMCA built a new building in 1967, because its original building had been burnt down during the Korean War, and embarked on the basic task of reviving its business by engaging in various activities and programs. Today, Seoul YMCA serves a crucial role in building a healthy regional community by devoting itself and conforming to the purpose and spirit of the YMCA movement.
Center of Korea’s Politics: National Assembly Building
At 48, Uisadang-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, previously 1-1 Yeouido-dong, you will find the National Assembly building, which occupies one-eighth of the entire Yeouido area. It is located in the center of Yeouido and is considered to be the best single assembly building in Asia. However, there were many difficulties before construction of the National Assembly building could begin. Although the Lee Seung-man administration, which had used the current Seoul Metropolitan Council building, decided to build a new building for the administration and selected the design of a young architect, Kim Su-geun, the plan was completely scrapped as a result of the April 19 Revolution and the military coup. The May 16 military coup led to the suspension of the construction plan, but ironically the building was constructed during the Park Chung-hee presidency. Back then, a massive investment was funneled into the construction, which caught the stern attention of the public, but some of the building’s architectural characteristics are still deemed inappropriate as they failed to reflect the opinions of the general public. As a symbol of the democratic politics of the parliament, the National Assembly building was built solely with Korean technologies, reflecting the hopes of the people. It has sometimes been mired in conflict and arguments over the past 40 years, but hopefully, many Koreans still have high expectations of the parliament to achieve truly communicative politics.
Persistence of Korean Landscape Painting: House of Yi Sang-bom
Seochon was a center of refined tastes and literature for low-level government officials and people in the late Joseon dynasty. The house of Yi Sang-bom, one of the six major Oriental painters, is located at the end of the twisting alley in Seochon. From 1942, when the great painter bought a hanok next to his studio, three generations of his family lived there until 1972, when the painter passed away. Cheongjeon Yi Sang-bom used a room at the end of the haengrangchae (one of the buildings placed near the front gate where servants live) and used the two rooms next to his room as guest rooms: one room facing the front gate for male guests and the other facing the vestibule for female guests. This effectively separated the living space from the space for social activities. When he drew an illustration of Son Gi-jeong for the Donga Ilbo, he was jailed for erasing the Japanese national flag off the sportswear that Son Gi-jeong had been wearing. After this incident, which was unknown to the public, the painter devoted himself to painting in a quiet and cozy mountain village, later to be remembered by many people as a source of peace and relaxation.
A Place for Modern Industrial Education: The Historical Record Archives of Korea National Open University
In the northeast area of Gyeongseong (as Seoul was known during Japanese Colonial rule), the National Industrial Institute, the first public school in Korea, was established in 1907. Japan pushed ahead with its plan to set up a two-year industrial school that would be separate from the existing four-year agricultural-commercial-industrial school, after curbing higher education for Koreans and secured the land in the most underdeveloped region in Gyeongseong to build a school and train highly-skilled workers. In 1912, Japan constructed a new building to serve as the Central Research Laboratory, where studies and researches on various industries would be carried out, and even built the three-year Gyeongseong Industrial College in 1916. Later, the Korean peninsula was liberated from Japan and endured the Korean War, which resulted in the destruction of the buildings. Only one building, incorrectly identified as the National Industrial Institute, remains intact. The building was mistaken for the National Industrial Institute because it was built with the same wooden architecture method as the National Industrial Institute. However, Ju Sang-hun, PhD of Architecture at Seoul National University, through a review of the geostrophic drawing of the Central Research Laboratory area, written in 1912, discovered that this building had been the Central Research Laboratory. The Central Research Laboratory is now the only western-style wooden building that is still standing. Therefore, the discovery of its mistaken identity is one of the important discoveries in Korea’s modern architecture history.
Aspiring to Democratization: Former Yeongdeungpo Prison
It is expected that Yeongdeungpo Prison, which opened under the name Bucheon Prison in 1949, will soon be gone. The prison is planned to be demolished to make way for a large residential and commercial complex.
Many well-known people were incarcerated at Yeongdeungpo Prison, a 67,696-square-meter land with 14 prison sections with an 800-persons capacity and 42 detention houses with a total capacity of 1,500 detainees. Among the many incidents that occurred there, the torture and killing of the Park Jong-cheol particularly raised the profile of the prison. Lee Bu-yeong (then secretary general of the Democratic Unification Movement), who was imprisoned there for leading the Incheon Incident on May 3rd, 1986, disclosed via a prison guard that Park Jong-cheol had been tortured to death by the Daegong Investigation Group in Namyeong-dong, resulting in the outbreak of the June Pro-Democracy Movement, and ultimately the Democracy Movement of 1987. Today, Yeongdeungpo Prison, stand as a witness to democratization, modern Korean history and the cruel treatment of political prisoners of that time, and it is about to be demolished. The prison was open to the public for only one day in Aril.
The Center of Student’ Protests against Japan in Bukchon: Choong Ang High School
On the grounds of Choong Ang High School, located in corner of Gye-dong in Bukchon, there is an old antique-looking building that seems to have been frozen in time since Bukchon first established. The school was founded by patriots at the end of the Korean Empire, when Japan clearly expressed its intention to invade the nation. Giho Heunghakhoe (an enlightenment movement group formed by patriots in 1908 in Seoul), established mainly by Giho members in 1908, opened a private Giho school in Hwadong, Jongno-gu, the northern part of the area formerly known as Hanseong. The present-day campus of Choong Ang High School consists of the main building, eastern building, and western building, all of which are significant historical structures. All of the buildings were built based on a historical style influenced by the pursuit of independent advancement and development of the nation during the Japanese colonial period. This school is considered to be a landmark in Bukchon, and is deemed quite exotic by many. Inside the school, you can find the March 1st Memorial Hall, which was the sleeping quarters used by the school teachers, who planned the March 1 Pro-Independence Movement, making it an ideal place to commemorate the March 1 Pro-Independence Movement. The June 10th memorial monument pays tribute to students who distributed Korea’s national flag and shouted for independence on the funeral day of the last emperor, Sunjong, of the Korean Empire.
119-Year-Old Love for Korea: Underwood Memorial Hall
Horace Grant Underwood (Korean name: Won Doo-woo) was the first Underwood to form a relationship with Korea. He entered Korea through Jemulpo on April 5th, 1885. After arriving in Korea as a missionary, he established the Underwood Hakdang (meaning “school” in Korean) through an orphanage project, as well as the Gyeongsin School, providing a remarkable level of education. Horace Grand Underwood contributed to Korea’s national development through his commitment to missionary, educational, and voluntary activities and by establishing churches and educational institutions in Korea with his strong determination and faith. To commemorate the Underwood and the spirit of his family, the family’s house in Yeonhui-dong home was turned into the Underwood Memorial Hall as tribute to the spirit of the founder and the dedicated efforts that the family made. Although the building originally consisted of two stories, only the first floor was restored, some of the building was destroyed during the Korean War. Inside the memorial hall, Underwood’s office has been restored to its original state based on the historical research of Dr. Won Il-han. Underwood’s actions showed his love for Korea, and that love for Korea, and Yonsei University, still live on today.
The Hub of One-day Trips Anywhere: Seoul Express Bus Terminal
After the opening of the Gyeongin Expressway, the first highway in Korea, in April 1969, the 1970s witnessed the beginning of the “express bus era.” Of particular importance is the Express Bus Terminal in Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu, in Seoul. This place is the main terminal for buses bound for, or coming from cities on the Gyeongbu, Guma, and Yeongdong expressways. This was a time when people could go anywhere in Korea within seven hours, which led to increasing traffic volume as well as new trends. The express bus drivers and their female assistants, dressed in nice uniforms, were regarded as the pilots and flight attendants of ground-based travel, consequently, these jobs became some of the most popular jobs. Although this was a great innovation in transportation, many passengers endured great inconvenience as each bus company used a different terminal. However, since most of the population of Seoul was concentrated in Gangbuk (the northern part of Seoul), the terminal in Gangnam (the southern part of Seoul) caused even more inconveniences for express bus companies as well as for passengers. In 1981, on the previous location of a temporary bus terminal, a new eleven-story building was opened the Seoul Express Bus Terminal. It was the largest bus terminal in Asia, was designed separate departure and arrival areas on the third floor.