Exhibition marks rebirth of former Seoul Station
By Do Je-hae
After more than three years of construction, the former Seoul Station officially re-opened as Culture Station Seoul 284 on Monday, with an opening ceremony hosted by the culture ministry and Korail, the nation’s main railway operator.
The space had been temporarily closed for the past few months to prepare for the official opening. The name is in reference to the building’s history, which was built in 1925 and was designated Historical Site No. 284 in 1981.
Upon re-opening, the main section (Jungang Hall) has been designated as a space for performances, events and cafes, while the second floor houses a hall that serves as a venue for exhibitions, academic seminars and business meetings.p
Various cultural events are planned to mark the occasion for the next few months, the highlight of which is a multicultural exhibition entitled “Ancient Future.”
“This exhibition will trace the history of the nation’s key landmarks in modern and contemporary history through showcases of graphic design and performing arts,” Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik said in his opening remarks at the station, Monday. “Through this exhibition, we hope to shed light on the various cultural transformations of the nation through the years.”
Works of renowned architects like the late Kim Su-geun (1931-1986), who designed the Jamsil Olympic Stadium, will be remembered during the event, which starts Monday and runs through June 15.
“The former Seoul Station is the symbol of our modern culture,” said Kang Joon-hyek, organizer of the exhibition. “We hope rebuilding this space as a hub for exhibitions and cultural performances will hopefully help citizens encounter culture in everyday life more often.”
The building was originally designed by Tsukamoto Yasushi, a professor at Tokyo University. Construction of the station started in June 1922 and was completed in September 1925. Due to its unique domed roof and large size, the station attracted much attention in its early years.
Yasushi was a student of pioneering Japanese architect Tatsuno Kingo, who greatly influenced the development of Japanese architecture, especially in Japan’s colonies. This is why Seoul Station has a strong resemblance to other major train stations throughout the old Japanese Empire, including the Tokyo and Manseibashi stations in Japan, old Taipei Main Station in Taiwan and Shenyang Station in China.
After Korea regained its independence from under Japanese occupation (1910-1945), the station’s name was changed from Gyeongseong Station to Seoul Station. During the Korean War (1950-1953), the station was partially destroyed but later restored.
A permanent exhibition will be on display to show the restoration process of Culture Station Seoul 284.
Special programs including a movie festival featuring train-related films and concerts will also take place on weekends until June 15.
Admission to all activities until June 15 is free. For more information, visit http://www.seoul284.org.