Friday, April 2, 2010

Sajik-dan enshrined, Naeja-dong revived ?

Scaffolding off, Sajik Park exposes its newly restored wall : the traditional stone, wood, and tile construction protects Sajik-dan more efficiently and elegantly than the awful iron fence that used to welcome visitors to that prestigious shrine, the pendant to Jongmyo West of Gyeongbokgung*.

Now Hongsalmun looks again like a gate and not just an isolated monument. And the rites performed in Sajik-dan move closer to their recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage.

This restoration also paves the way for the great Jongno-gu project to redesign the historic Yulgokno-Sajikno axis. I guess it will include traffic lights with pedestrian crossings somewhere between Medong-gil / Pilundae-gil and Naejadong-gil, as well as (speaking of paving the way) decent sidewalks on both sides of Sajikno along Naeja-dong : removing the overpass was a nice first step, but you get tired of potholes.

The Southern half of Naeja-dong is about to change too, and I hope for the better. A first meeting was held last month between residents and local authorities, generally the initial stage for redevelopment, but new regulations also confirmed the protection of hanoks and this area has quite a few to save. The Western part is occupied by the massive headquarters of Seoul Metropolitan Police and at the other end there's a big officetel (Blois), a church, and a collection of medium-sized buildings. In between, an intricate network of small streets full of hanoks, most of them restaurants, marked by Jangchunggo-gil : the only street cutting fully the block between Sajikno and Naejadong-gil is slightly curvy and hilly, and most houses on the Eastern side are traditional ones, which gives it an interesting charm and potential. I often wonder how it would look if both sides were "rehanokized". It would not only save the existing cluster, but also create a very interesting touristic and gastronomic spot opposite Chebu-dong and on the way to Sajik-dan or Sungok Art Museum.

Furthermore, it would also make sense from an historical point of view : this is precisely the place where all the catering was prepared for festivities at the Gyeonbokgung, between the palace and the shrine celebrating harvests and food.

Seoul Village 2010

* "Inwangsan's Great Wall and Seoul's Royal "T" Time". We already mentioned the restoration of this wall (see "The Sandwich").

see other Seochon related posts, including "Baekundongcheon / Gwanghwamun-gil - A River Runs Through It"

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