29. Imun Seolnongtang, a Native Dish of Seoul

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There are several theories about the origin of the name seolleongtang (ox bone soup), the most plausible being that it stems from the food served immediately after a sacrificial rite held by the king at the Seonnongdan Altar to pray for a good year.

The Imun Seolleongtang restaurant has specialized in this dish since 1904. Regular customers speak highly of the special flavor of the dish served at this restaurant which, unlike other seolleongtang houses, prepares the soup with ox spleen, and also sells cooked ox spleen as a separate dish. Very few restaurants serve the latter dish as most people do not really like its unusual smell or the texture of the mushy meat. The wooden building and its iron cauldron have been replaced with a modern concrete building and an ultra-modern pressure cooker, but locals feel that the ox bone soup served at other houses cannot possibly compare with the dish served here.




28. Choi Sun-u’s Old House, a Model of Simplistic Traditional Beauty

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Mr. Choi Sun-u (pen-name: Hyegok; 1916~1984) is regarded as one of the three leading figures from Gaeseong, along with Hwang Su-yeong (a Buddhist art historian) and Jin Hong-seop (a fine art historian). He left his mark on the history of fine arts in Korea in his capacity as the director of the National Museum of Korea and as an art historian.

His book Leaning against the Baeheullim Pillar of Muryangsujeon Hall has become a must-read book for anyone interested in the beauty of Korean traditional architecture. He wrote the book in this house, which is a fine example of the “ㅁ”-shaped Korean-style houses commonly found in Gyeonggi Province. It is presumed to have been built in the 1930s. He lived here from 1976 until 1984. At present, the women’s quarters is used as an exhibition space, the east-wing servants’ quarters as an office, and the west-wing servants’ quarters as a meeting room.

When the house was in danger of demolition due to redevelopment of the area in 2002, the National Trust of Korea raised the necessary funds and took charge of it, preserving as a cultural heritage.




27. Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA)

 

The building of the Seoul Museum of Art was built during the colonial period in 1928 as Gyeongseong Court on the site of Pyeongniwon (Hanseong Court), the country’s first court. After the country’s liberation, the building was used as the Supreme Court until the latter’s relocation to a new building in Seocho-dong in 1995, and has been used by the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) since 2002.

The building was built on a site elevated by about 6 meters, perhaps to signify the authority of a high court. In 2002, the building was reborn as a modern exhibition space after refurbishment work, although its 1920s façade was fully preserved. It was designated as Cultural Heritage No. 237 in recognition of its architectural and historical significance.




26. Central Hall of Cheondogyo Religion

 

Three million followers of the Cheondogyo Religion decided to donate 10 won each in order to build the Central Hall. They collected 270,000 won and started the work in July 1919. The hall was completed in February 1921. They gave the rest of the money to the March 1919 Independence Movement.

At first, Cheondogyo’s leader, Son Byeong-hui, planned to build a hall sized 1,200m2. However, the Japanese colonists would not issue a building permit on the pretext that the planned building was too large and looked dangerous, having no supporting columns in the center. The group managed to obtain a building permit by reducing the building’s size by half.

The two-story building is built of red bricks and granite stones and has a four-story central tower.  Total floor size: 700㎡; land size: 1.5 acre. Iron angles were used to install the roof. Accommodation capacity: 1,000 people. Granite stones were brought from a quarry in Changsin-dong. It is also the place where Bang Jeong-hwan (pen-name: Sopa) carried out a movement for children.




25. Ewha Hakdang School

 

Ewha Hakdang was opened in 1886 by an American missionary named Mary Scranton. At first, she taught a student at her private house in Jeong-dong. In February 1887, Emperor Gojong gave the first girls’ school in the country the name Ewha, literally meaning “pear blossom. A symbol of the royal family, the pear blossom was associated with purity and brightness.

In 1886, the school’s first building, a Korean-style house measuring 600m2 with a tiled roof, was built in Jeong-dong. As the number of students increased, work began to demolish the existing building in 1897 and replace it with a two-story western building, Simpson Hall, which was completed in 1915. The school became the country’s first educational institution, comprising elementary, middle, and high schools, and a university.

In the early 1930s, Ewha Woman’s University was relocated to Sinchon, and its first building, Pffeiffer Hall, was built in 1935 in Sinchon.




24. Paichai Hakdang School

 

Paichai Hakdang School, a predecessor of Paichai High School, was a modern private school founded by the American missionary Henry G. Appenzeller in 1885. King Gojong presented the school with a hanging board bearing the school’s name, Paichai, meaning a “house for training useful talented people.”

The school helped students from poor households earn tuition fees through jobs created within the school. Meanwhile, Sammun Publishing, operated by Paichai students, strived to enlighten the public by publishing the Dongnip Shinmun (by Seo Jae-pil) and the news bulletin of the Hyeopseonghoe (enlightment movement association).

With the relocation of Paichai High School elsewhere, only the East Wing remains of the original structure built in 1916, which is now used as a history museum.




23. Yakhyeon Cathedral

 

Towards the end of the 1800s, the area between Malli-dong and Seoul Station was a medicinal herb field (“yakhyeon” in Korean), giving rise to the name of Yakhyeon Cathedral. The western-style building was built on the site where many Catholics were executed.

The country’s 100-year-long persecution of western religions ended in the 1880s. Yakhyeon Cathedral was built in 1892 based on plans drawn up by French priest George Coste. It was the first western-style cathedral built in the country (six years ahead of Myeongdong Cathedral).

It is said that the inside of the cathedral is brighter (with the light shining through the stained glass) than that of any other cathedral in the country. It used to be called the “Main Cathedral outside the four Main Gates of Seoul.” (Myeongdong Cathedral was known as the “Main Cathedral inside the four Main Gates.”)

It was the first christian structure built in the country. As such, it has witnessed the history of Catholicism in Korea from a low hill outside Seosomun for the past 120 years.




22. Daehan Hospital, Leader of Medical Service Standards

 

Upon its opening in 1908, Daehan Hospital was an ultra-modern facility, and few other hospitals in East Asia could rival it in terms of its size and the quality of its facilities. It laid the basis for modern medical science in Korea, recruiting a large number of doctors, establishing a treatment system based on specialties, and running a 4-year medical science course.

Designed by a Japanese architect belonging to the Takjibu (Finance Ministry), the building was erected on the site of Hamchunwon Garden, the rear garden of Changgyeonggung Palace, and a clock tower was erected at the center of the entrance.

Built according to classical western architectural techniques, including the Baroque style, it was regarded as one of the three leading structures in Seoul in the early 1900s, along with the buildings of the Choseon Bank (present-day Bank of Korea) and the Oriental Development Company.

Daehan Hospital was used by Imperial Japan in its attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of Joseon, but it was a result of the efforts made by Imperial Korea (1897-1910) for modernization.




21. Seodaemun Prison

 

Imperial Japan forced the Joseon government to sign the Eulsa Treaty, thus depriving the country of its sovereignty. The first thing that Imperial Japan did in Korea was to build Seodaemun Prison, a large wooden building that could accommodate more than 500 inmates, being more than twice the size of all the country’s prisons combined.

In 1910, the Japanese colonists staged a fake assassination of the Japanese Governor-General in Korea and threw 105 Korean independence activists into this prison on trumped-up charges. With the emergence of the March 1919 Independence Movement, the number of inmates in the prison quickly exceeded 3,000. Many independence fighters were tortured and killed here. The inmates were also forced to produce military supplies in a facility within the prison.

After the country’s liberation, the prison was used to accommodate peoplewho protested against the military dictatorship. Seodamun Prison has witnessed the twists and turns of the country’s modern history.

 




20. Samillo Changgo Theater in Myeong-dong

 

Opened in 1975, the Samillo Changgo Theater has earned itself a significant place in the history of performance arts in Korea by producing many actors and actresses (including Chu Song-ung, Park Jeong-ja, Jeon Mu-song, Choi Jong-won, Yu In-chon, and Myeong Gye-nam) and directors.

During the dictatorship period, the theater introduced experimental works by young stage artists and was regarded as a culturally liberated zone for artists and audiences alike. However, Myeong-dong gradually turned into a commercial district and the theater was closed down due to financial difficulties, although it was eventually reopened thanks to the efforts of cultural and art circles and support from the government.




19.Hyochang Stadium, Korea’s First International Soccer Stadium

 

Hyochang Stadium, the country’s first international soccer stadium, was built in October 1960. The 23,000-seat facility consists of a soccer field with an athletics track running around it. The stadium is still used for various purposes. At first, the government planned to relocate patriots’ tombs in the area elsewhere to build the stadium, but the work was stopped due to stiff opposition. After Seoul was selected as the host city of the 1970 Asian Games (although the games were not actually held in Seoul in the end) in June 1959, the stadium was built without relocating the tombs. Hyochang Park, where the tombs of patriots Lee Bong-chang, Yun Bong-gil, Baek Jeong-gi and Kim Koo among others are located, was designated as Historic Site No. 330.




18.Pyounghwa Market

 

This wholesale clothing market, the largest of its kind in the country, developed along the Cheonggyecheon (Stream). It was given the name Pyounghwa (Peace) because many of the storeowners wished for the country’s peaceful unification with the North.

Many of the market’s storeowners crossed the 38th parallel from the North during the Korean War, and quite a few of them went into business with just a sewing machine or two to make a living. They lived in ramshackle huts along Cheonggyecheon (Stream).

In 1962, their situation improved and they moved their equipment into newly built modern buildings, but they still relied on the cheap labor of people living in the nearby ramshackle huts. The employees’ working conditions were very poor. Jeon Tae-il, a member of the Cheonggye Clothing Workers’ Union, burned himself to death in protest against the poor working conditions in November 1970.