Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Changdeokgung : from station to station to ashes to ashes

The other day*, I was not fully convinced by the final project of tunnel between Jongmyo and Changdeokgung : once more, priority was given to cars over public transports, pedestrians and bicycles. And instead of bringing two areas closer, it's as if a new mountain were erected to pull them further apart...

But yesterday, I was pleased to learn that, on the Western side of the tunnel, both gas stations facing Donhwamun (Changdeok Palace main gate) would be removed : until then, only one of the two (I didn't know which one - in Gwanhun-dong / West) or Unni-dong / East) was planned for destruction.

I already voiced my outrage to see the main entrance to a UNESCO World Heritage, Changdeokgung, be disgraced by those gas stations, but I was confident change would come : Jongno-gu intends to extend Insadong tourist area towards Jongmyo, reviving Donhwamun-gil and Sulla-gil on the way. And indeed, the place has dramatically evolved over the past few years, not always for the better : anticipating conservation laws, many Hanok owners replaced their traditional houses with modern structures more fit (to their eyes only of course) for business, ruining the atmosphere.

So it's decided now : the two gas stations will be destroyed in 2012, and the following year two new buildings will be inaugurated : a Royal Life History Digital Gallery (궁중생활사 디지털전시관), and a Traditional Art Hall (돈화문 국악예술당), likely to lure many tourists this side of Yulgokno. I hope the architecture will be more responsible and sustainable than recent tourist traps but anyway, it'll beat oil spills.

Seoul Village 2010

* see "
Jongno-gu renovation - continued"

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