Architecture in Korea changed a lot between 1850 and 1950. It was, in my opinion, the most interesting architectural period in Korean history. During the late Joseon period, Western and Japanese influence led to a greater variety of building designs. At first, this architecture came in the form of foreign government buildings, but the traditional Korean cityscape took on more American, British, German, Russian, French, and Japanese styles as the foreign population grew. Even the traditional hanok started to take on slightly different forms. Unfortunately, much of Korea’s traditional architecture was lost during colonization – especially its old town fortresses and thousands of hanok. Industrialization in the 1960s and 1970s only added to the destruction of early modern buildings. The tragedy is that the Korean government still does little to protect the country’s old buildings despite having already lost so much. Today, Korea’s traditional urban vistas are completely gone.
This blog is a series of photo essays that seek to document the few remaining early modern structures on the Korean peninsula. It is in no way an apologetic response to Japanese Imperialism. Rather, I simply want to raise awareness for Korea’s early modern tangible remains. Admittedly, the blog’s title is now a bit misleading as I sometimes cover information from before and after colonization. The historically significant buildings in Korea have been registered and protected by the government or private owners, but the rest – the ones that haven’t been demolished in the name of progress – often seem to remain by accident. While I can’t always find information on the histories of these buildings, I do photograph and map them out. It is my goal to document as many pockets of remaining early modern architecture as possible during my time here in Korea.
Building locations and info footnotes are at the bottom of each post. If you think you see an error somewhere, please comment or send me a message! 🙂
If you’re interested in using some of these photos for something, feel free to get in touch with me. To see the entire Flickr gallery, click here.