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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Culture Station Seoul 284, Seoul Jung-gu: Ye Olde Seoul Railway Station


Built in 1925, Seoul Train Station which is located at 1 Unification Road/Tongillo, Bongnae-dong 2-ga 122-28 beonji, Seoul Jung-gu; served as the gateway to Seoul for 80 years. But in 2004, the city added the KTX (Korea Train Xpress) bullet train and built a corresponding new station. Although the old Seoul Train Station was left unused, in 2011, it was renovated and built anew as a multicultural center. Along with the idea of renovation, the train station was renamed "Culture Station Seoul 284" through a publicized naming contest. Culture Station Seoul 284 represents a train station that is the center of a culture network located in Seoul as well as Korean Republic Historical Landmark No. 284

In 1900, when the Seoul to Incheon railway line was established, Seoul Station, built of wood, began its operations. The original name of Seoul Station was Namdaemun Train Station. In 1925, Southern Manchuria Railway Incorporation transformed the Seoul Train Station, using the Renaissance style. The train station was renamed to Gyeongseong/Keijou Train Station from Namdaemun Train Station. However, after the Gwangbokjeol, it was renamed to Seoul Train Station. In 1960, two more stations were added, one in the South and one in the West, due to the rapid development of Seoul and increasing demand for public transportation. In 2004, a new private company closed down the Seoul Train Station and built a new one. After the restoration of the train station in 2011, it became Korea's multicultural space named Historical Seoul Train Station.

When you first enter Cultural Station Seoul 284, you will see the Main Hall, the dome, and its 12 stone pillars. To replicate the original station, builders of the train station created an elevator for disabled people where the convenience store was once located. In place of the ticketing office, they installed a heating and air conditioning system. On the ceiling of the train station, there is a stained glass depicting Korean traditional dancing called “Kang Kang Su Won Le." You can learn about the train station by renting an audio set from the place where the ticketing office once existed. In the past, ticket prices differed by class (first, second and third).  Also, the ticket on the class determined which waiting room the individual could wait for the train. The third class waiting room was located to the right of the main hall and the first, second, ladies and VIP waiting room was located to the left of the main hall. This space is now being used as an exhibition hall.

The 2nd floor Recovery Exhibition was once used as a barber shop and restroom when it was first built. The train station was re-built in the same architectural form as the original. The finish, windows and decorations are displayed. The original wooden window frames and crevices are re-used to display the exhibit. “Seoul Train Station Grill” was known as the best Western restaurant during the Japanese occupation. This place, along with the Main Hall, are considered the most beautiful spaces of the Seoul Train Station. There is a spacious large eatery, food preparation room and a small restaurant in between the large eatery and office space.

After restoring the train station to its 1925 structure, any act damaging cultural property is forbidden by the Cultural Protection Law.  Culture Station Seoul 284 preserves cultural value and at the same time, we pursue active cultural space by connecting the past to the present.  Starting with the art project called Countdown, experimental and alternative plans followed and after the Japanese occupation, the Railroad Transportation Office, used by the US army, preserves the original form and used as a small theatre.