Korean Narrative: Underground City in Downtown Seoul

Su Un Taeh Kim(Jongno, Seoul)

Walking around downtown Jongno, it is easy to spot landmark historical buildings with their eye-catching grandeur and traditional architecture. However, just in Seoul there are only a handful of notable locations such as the usual 5 palaces of Seoul and other historical building from the Joseon Dynasty. If your stay in Korea has been longer than a couple months, its highly likely that you’ve visited these obvious tourists attractions. In this case, it is time to discover a hidden underground city from the Joseon dynasty that  lies beneath one of the numerous skyscrapers populating downtown Jongno.

Gong-Pyeong Dong Museum(공평동 유물전시관)

The Gong-Pyeong Dong museum (공평동 유물전시관) is a underground observatory that allows the visitor to travel into a 600 year old city with actual roads and remnants of medieval houses alongside countless artifacts that used to be daily-life tools for medieval Koreans. This medieval part of Seoul has been discovered during the construction of Centropolis tower, as the construction site was full of Joseon dynasty artifacts, acute roads and Yugu (base stones serving as ‘cornerstones’ and foundation of traditional Korean buildings). Thus, the government has ordered that the site be preserved and left intact from the construction that has already commenced. Luckily, the construction of the most ‘expensive’ building in Seoul has been completed just last year and the old medieval part of the city left intact. How? the building itself has been built on top of the historical site with the old remains transformed into a underground museum for preservation and observation. As a result, underneath Centropolis (the most expensive building traded in Seoul) lies 600 years of Joseon dynasty where you can get a glimpse of the housing of the nobility, bustling marketplace and even the road enjoyed by Kings.

The museum itself is with glass transparent floors that allows the visitor the walk over the old roads and houses. With addition of VR glasses, visitors can step on the remains of a building and witness how the building would have looked like, what the building was for and imagine themselves actually in that spot some 600 years ago. So, the next time you find yourself in downtown Jongno without anywhere to go and a wet back from the humidity, try some underground history and get some cool air(the museum is with top-notch air-conditioning).

☆ Photo Credit: http://kyu1128.tistory.com/93 & 서울역사박물관

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