Dreams of Enlightenment and Autonomy at “Dongnimmun Gate”
Muakjae, located outside of the West Gate on the road to Beijing, was adjacent to the Yeongeunmun Gate and Mohwagwan Hall, where Korean government officials received Chinese envoys.
Yeongeunmun Gate and Mohwagwan Hall were major structures that symbolized the idea of “serving the Great”, an attitude that Joseon Korea held towards China. These two structures were demolished by Progressives such as Seo Jae-pil as part of efforts to sever ties with foreign nations. In their place, Dongnimmun Gate, the largest national project at the time, was built as a symbol of autonomy and enlightenment.
After undergoing renovations during the Japanese colonial period, Dongnimmun Gate was moved in 1978 during the construction of Seongsan-daero to about 70 meters to the northwest of its original location.
By repositioning the gate, the hope was that those who passed by the gate would stop and take a moment to reflect upon the unique history of Seoul and all those who had traveled in and out of the city.