Friday, August 27, 2010

Gwanghwamun reconstructed and unveiled

... in 1968.

(From Seoul Through Pictures 4)


kushibo said...

I enjoy it when you do things like this.

Why, oh why, didn't they get it right the first time?!

Your thoughts, matt, on whether Park Chunghee's calligraphy should have been included in the reconstruction?

matt said...

Park's calligraphy, not so much, bit I thought this argument (from this article) was interesting:

"Lee Dae-ro, director general of the Hanmalgeul Association, or Korean Language Association, has insisted that the signboard should be written in Hunminjeongeum, the original form of Hangeul created by King Sejong. Lee has also pointed out that the name Gwanghwamun, or “Spreading Enlightenment Gate,” was first assigned to it during Sejong’s rule in 1425. When the gate was first built in 1395, it was named Sajeongmun, or South Main Gate.

“Since the reconstruction is happening right now when Koreans use the Korean alphabet, following exactly what was there in the Joseon Dynasty does not reflect the true meaning of the restoration of a cultural asset,” said Lee."

I like the idea that you don't have to be 100% faithful to the previous dynasty - I guess the same goes for Park's rule as well...

Michael Sean Gallagher said...

Long time reader and former Seoul expat. Great work, always thought provoking, and sincerely hope to be reading this for years to come.

On a rather tangential note, do you happen to have Seoul Through Pictures 1 & 2? I have 3 & 4 and they are so incredibly good, but 1 & 2 seem impossible to find. It is a shame as these types of books help to paint a narrative of Korea that non-Koreans can understand. I sincerely wish they would print more.

All my best!

matt said...


Thanks for the kind words. Unfortunately Books 1 and 2 are, I'm quite sure, long out of print. I bought the first 2 or 3 volumes in 2002 and 2003. There is also a 5th volume with photos from the 1970s (published in 2008), but it seems Seoul Selection doesn't have it in stock anymore.