Publication of The Korea House, Rebuilt with Memories and Records
Writer : 재단관리자 Date : 2023-08-17 조회수 : 555

Publication of The Korea House, Rebuilt with Memories and Records

The history and hidden stories of the site “Korea House,” a witness to the modern and contemporary history of Korea

 The Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation (President: Choi Yeong-chang) has published the book The Korea House, Rebuilt with Memories and Records, which introduces the history of and stories about the Korea House.

The Korea House welcomed the news of national independence while living through the twists and turns of Korea’s modern history.

 The Korea House was built at the site of the House of Pak Paeng-nyeon, a civil official of the early Joseon Dynasty and one of the six martyred ministers. During the Japanese colonial rule, it was used as the residence of the Vice Governor-General, who was the second-in-command of the Japanese Government-General of Korea. It is also highly significant in that it was the place where the news of national liberation was first heralded. On August 15, 1945, Vice Governor-General Endō Ryūsaku summoned Yuh Woon-Hyung (a Korean politician) to the house to conduct negotiations on national security and the maintenance of public order. As such, the Korea House became the first place to take a tentative step toward national independence. 

․ The Early Joseon Dynasty: Private House of Pak Paeng-nyeon.

․ 1910s-1945: Official residence of the Vice Governor-General 

*A historic site where Korea took its first steps toward national independence.

․ 1945-1948: Managed by the United States Army Military Government in Korea.

․ During the Korean War: Official residence of General James A. Van Fleet (Commander of the Eighth US Army).

․ 1957: Opened as the “Korea House”, served as the presidential press office.

․ 1981: Reopened after extensive renovation work (1980).

From the official residence of the Commanding General of the Eighth US Army to the Korea House

 After Korea regained its independence, the house was managed by the United States Army Military Government in Korea and used as a recreational facility by the US Army. It was around this time that the house came to be called “Korea House”. Commanding General of the Eight US Army James A. Van Fleet* used the house as his official residence. 

* General James A. Van Fleet: During his tenure, he reestablished the Korea Military Academy, and after the Korean War, he founded The Korea Society, leaving behind many achievements related with Korean reconstruction and cultural projects.

 After the Korean War, the house was used as the Yeongbingwan (State Guest House) and as a Korean cultural experience facility. After the Bureau of Public Information was changed to the Presidential Press Office in 1955, the house underwent extensive renovation work in 1957. Since then, the Korea House has served as a venue where visitors can learn all about and enjoy Korea’s traditional lifestyle and culture. Back then, the building featured a mixture of traditional Korean, Western and Japanese styles, but in 1978 all of its buildings, with the exception of Ugeumheon (formerly Munhyangnu) Hall, were rebuilt in the traditional Korean style, and the house reopened in February 1981. 

 The current Korea House retains the signboard and the verse couplet carved on one of its pillars, which were produced by the best calligraphers of the time, namely Kim Chung-hyeon (pen-name: Iljung), Kim Gi-seung (pen-name: Wongok), Kim Eung-hyeon (pen-name: Yeocho), Oh Je-bong (pen-name: Cheongnam), and Im Chang-sun (pen-name: Cheongmyeong), for the reopening of the house in 1981. Full and accurate translations of the signboard and the verse couplet are included at the end of the book. 

The Korea House, the Birth of the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation

 The Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation started out as the Korean Cultural Heritage Protection Association, which was entrusted with the management of the Korea House in 1980. Located at Toegye-ro 36-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, the Korea House has developed and promoted the royal cuisine of Joseon and the traditional wedding ceremony of Korea since its reopening. While the previous Korea House was used as a place exclusively for foreigners to promote traditional Korean culture, after its reopening in February 1981 it was reborn as a “Korea House for everyone”. 

 The Korea House aims to promote traditional dishes based on royal cuisine and to popularize and preserve the traditional Korean wedding culture. In addition, its Traditional Theater plays the role of not only an “academy of Korean traditional music (Gugak) but also a sarangbang, or reception hall for Gugak musicians. KCHF Performance Arts Group has been led by the best dancers and choreographers of the times, including Hong Geum-san, Jeong Jae-man, Choi Hyeon, Park Byeong-cheon, Song Beom, and Guk Su-ho, while the Traditional Theater has long been the only theater where a traditional art performance takes place every day in Korea (up until the closure of the regular performance due to the COVID-19 pandemic). 

The Korea House continues to take on new challenges in line with the changing times. To respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has developed HMR(Home Meal Replacement) products such as Hyojonggaeng (a hangover soup consumed by aristocrats of the Joseon Dynasty) and Seolligaeng (abalone and galbi soup) and now sells them online. In addition, it launched its royal refreshment brand, Gohojae, in line with the current trend of the younger generation, who greatly enjoy consuming desserts and taking pictures. The Korea House Traditional Theater and Art Company stopped their regular performances after the COVID-19 pandemic and expanded their external performances to cater to audiences in diverse places. 

While turning over the pages of the book and following the passage of time with the Korea House, you will find yourself on a journey into Korea’s modern and contemporary history. The book The Korea House, Rebuilt with Memories and Records is available at the Korea House Café and the Art Shop “Sarang”. (※ Price: KRW 20,000/ Inquiries: 02-2266-9101~3)