Home of Korea's last Empress to be demolished

September 2011

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Home of Korea's Last Empress at Ogin-dong 47-133
The home of Korea's Last Empress at Ogin-dong 47-133

Despite protests by architects, academics, and members of the public, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is allowing plans to demolish the surviving hanoks of the family home of Korea's Last Empress, the Empress Sunjeong (순정황후 윤씨, 1894–1966)(as of September 2011).

Sunjeong was the second wife of Sunjong, the Yunghui Emperor ( 융희제, 1874– 1926). Sunjong was the last emperor of the Joseon Dynasty, reigning from 1907 until 1910. The remnants of her family home are clearly visible today as a cluster of hanoks at Ogin-dong 47-133, to the West of the Kyongbok Palace

The reasons for demolition are not hard to see. This last cluster of hanoks is surrounded by modern houses, small apartment blocks, and a scattering of commercial buildings. The remaining hanoks are now the only undeveloped part of the district.

Asked to explain why the demolition was being allowed, an official of the The Cultural Heritage Administration admitted that the hanoks were of cultural and historic interest but said there was no money available to enable their preservation and restoration. In any case, the Seoul government has already built a modern replica as part of the Namsangol Folk Village.

It is certainly true that restoration and repair are needed in Ogin-dong. The hanoks are currently home to six low-income families who share a chaotic courtyard cluttered with their washing and possessions. The tile roof has been covered with plastic sheeting to prevent rain leaking through. Untidy though it may be, the building's structure is intact and in surprising good condition.

While there is no money to be found for preservation, the same is not true for redevelopment. The site was put up for auction at the start of September. While there are no details available of the purchaser or his plans, local residents affirm confidently that the current occupants will be obliged to move out in October or November when the hanoks will be demolished.

Seoul City's replica is no more than a sterile attempt at facsimile, built using more modern techniques than were used by the craftsmen who hand-carved the original buildings. The Ogin-dong hanoks were built using high quality Korean pine and were decorated with traditional carved details that indicated a noble family.


Ogin-dong 47-133 in September 2011 Seoul City's replica

Extraordinary as it may be, Seoul City is adamant that it has no legal powers to halt demolitions



Queen Yun's House Queen Yun's House - Replica in the Namsan Folk Village
This house is believed to have been a house of Queen Yun of the late Chosun Period. The wing-shaped brackets support the roof frame. The parapets along the staircase to the main gate, the gable of the kitchen, column edges, and the middle tiding bar have very elaborate decorations. It is an excellent example of an upper-class house in the late Chosun Period. This house is a replication of the original, located in Ogin-dong, Chongno-Gu. "Queen Yun" was one of the additional titles held by Empress Sunjeong.


Historical Notes

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empress_Sunjeong
Empress Sunjeong







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