When I first arrived nearly three years ago, the city center was in the finishing touches of a revitalization project. The Cheonggyecheon Stream had been uncovered, creating beautiful walkways all the way to the Han River and the wonderful Gwanghwamun Plaza had been opened in front of Gyeongbukgong Palace and the US Embassy, showcasing several beautiful statues of heroic Koreans from antiquity.
What caught my eye though, was still under construction.
“Surely this isn’t a permanent structure,” I thought as I stared at the giant box sitting at the end of the plaza. I didn’t know at the time, but that giant box, artistically covered in colorful glass held a work in progress.
In August 2010, the box was removed, unveiling Gwanghwamun, the front gate to Seoul’s central palace, Gyeongbukgong .
Gwanghwamun Gate was originally constructed in 1395, and was destroyed by a Japanese invasion in the 16th century, only to rebuilt centuries later. In the early 20th century, it was again the Japanese who changed the structure, dismantling it and moving it slightly to the southeast to accommodate the Governor General’s offices.
However, during the revitalization of downtown Seoul, it was decided that the gate should be moved back to its original location. Painstakingly, the structure was deconstructed and rebuilt in its current, original, location, between Gwanghwamun Plaza and Gyeongbokgung Palace.
The shot above was taken during my last visit to downtown Seoul in February 2012, days before I left the country to start my six months of travel. It is definitely one of my favorite pictures from my entire time in the beautiful country of Korea.