Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Wood, Water, and Stone in Western Seoul

This Saturday, April 29, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm, I’ll be leading a cultural excursion for the Royal Asiatic Society to the areas around Guam Park, Yangcheon Hyanggyo, and Magok-dong. Along the way, we’ll visit museums dedicated to Joseon era physician Heo Jun and landscape painter Jeong Seon (and compare the scenes in his paintings to surviving sites nearby). We’ll also visit the 600-year-old Yangcheon Hyanggyo, a Confucian shrine and academy (which I first visited here), descend into a Japanese-built tunnel dating from World War II, and take in views of the Han River from Mt. Gungsan.

The excursion will end with a visit to Magok Cultural Center, a former pumping station constructed in the 1920s and the only remaining colonial-era agricultural structure in the city, now restored as an art space, as well as the Lake Park near Seoul Botanical Garden. 

To learn more about the tour, or to sign up, see here.

As I mention in this Korea Times article, titled, "Tracing southwestern Seoul's underappreciated history," I lived near this area for over a decade and watched first-hand as Magok turned from a large stretch of farmland to a nearly-completed urban development. This, and changes in how the past has been documented in this area, will also be discussed on the excursion.

Many of my encounters with this area have been documented on this blog. Mentioned in the article is my first visit to Yangcheon Hyanggyo in 2007, the opening of the long-dormant Magok Station in 2008, a review that same year of plans to develop the Han River, including Magok lake park, a look inside Magongnaru Station in 2009, five years before it opened, the last days of a village on Magok's edge that same year, and the near-completion of the first phase of Magok's development in 2014.

A few more photos:

Yangcheon Hyanggyo as it looks today.

The Japanese-built tunnel from WWII under Gungsan, near Yangcheon Hyanggyo.

A now-removed diorama of Yangcheon Prefecture (Gangseo-gu) that once stood in the Heo Jun Museum.

Magok Pumphouse in 2008, before its restoration.

Magok Pumphouse, now the Magok Cultural Center, after its restoration.

Jeong Seon's painting of Soyojeong, the rocks now known as Gwangjubawi, from the early 1740s.

Gwangjubawi as they look today in Guam Park.

The big hill of dirt made up of the earth displaced from digging AREX's tunnel through Magok, 2009.

Magongnaru Station Exit 1, 2009.

Magongnaru Station Exit 1, 2022 (Kakao Map)

Magongnaru Station in 2009. The loops of cable on the floor are where the gates will go.