LIFE&STYLE

[Eye Plus] The history beneath our feet

By Lim Jeong-yeo
  • Published : Mar 21, 2019 - 17:02
  • Updated : Mar 21, 2019 - 17:07

History is closer to people’s lives than in the musty pages of old books.

In the ultra-modern metropolis of Seoul, there is a place where a step into the lower ground of a high-rise office building can pull one into the city’s past, dating back to the 16th century.

It is Gongpyeong Historic Site Museum, a 3,817-square-meter space in the underground floor of Centropolis office building in Gongpyeong-dong, central Seoul -- the biggest historic site unearthed in Seoul to date. 


(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)


Visitors can walk through the remains of structures from Joseon era’s Seoul, then called Hanyang and later Gyeongseong. A 42-meter alley sends visitors off to the 16th and 17th centuries, and virtual reality goggles can guide them to virtually enter the insides of old houses.

Ceramics were the artifacts most found -- kitchenware and table utensils unearthed from the site are put on exhibit inside the museum. They reflect the culture with various sauces and foods fermented in olden times.


(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)


Groundwork stones for homes lie where they were found, with the addition of miniaturized houses that show what the remains would have looked like when they originally stood.

The Gongpyeong Historic Site was excavated in its entirety in 2015 during the area’s environmental maintenance work. In order to completely preserve the site, Seoul Metropolitan City offered an unprecedented area-ratio incentive to the Centropolis builders, allowing them to build one story higher in return for the underground space being given to the public.

This set an example for the preservation of historic sites in urban areas, later known as the “the Gongpyeong Rule.”

Located indoors, Gongpyeong Historic Site Museum is a suitable place to explore on days of less than favorable weather. Opening hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Mondays and Jan. 1.

(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)



Written by Lim Jeong-yeo
Photos by Park Hyun-koo