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Research on Gyeongbokgung’s rear garden to be conducted at Cheong Wa Dae

The official Open Cheong Wa Dae website (CHA)
The official Open Cheong Wa Dae website (CHA)
A study of Gyeongbokgung’s rear garden -- the site of Cheong Wa Dae -- will be conducted more than two months after the former presidential office was opened to the public.

The Korea Association for Architectural History, which won the bid to conduct the research, has 120 days to report its findings, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration on Monday.

Historical records show that the area functioned as part of the rear garden of Gyeongbokgung, the main royal palace during the Joseon era (1392-1910). In the 1860s, King Gojong used the garden as the venue for regular civil service examinations and martial arts examinations.

The upcoming study will serve as a reference and resource for drawing up plans for the preservation of the former presidential office grounds, according to the CHA and the architecture association.

The CHA suggested that research be conducted on four major categories -- an analysis of the current status of Gyeongbokgung’s rear garden, the garden’s historical significance, a database of its current status and survey and analysis of its cultural heritage value.

Meanwhile, the Culture Ministry and the CHA, an affiliate of the ministry that is currently in charge of Cheong Wa Dae’s operations, appear headed for a collision over the future of Cheong Wa Dae compound.

On July 4, the Culture Ministry officially announced that the compound could be turned into a “cultural complex.” On the same day, the CHA, which has consistently put “preservation” at the forefront of its agenda, abruptly delayed a press release on its research plans and further steps to register the compound as cultural heritage.

On Wednesday, the CHA released the result of a survey of 1,000 Cheong Wa Dae visitors that showed that 40.9 percent of respondents hoped the grounds “to be maintained in their original condition.” The survey was conducted between June 22 and June 26 by the CHA’s Cheong Wa Dae operations team. By contrast, 15.2 percent answered that they looked forward to an “arts and cultural space” with museums or exhibitions.

More than 1.25 million visitors had visited the grounds as of Wednesday, according to the CHA.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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