Sungryemun, located in Jung-gu, Seoul, was constructed in 1398 when King Taejo ruled Joseon, and became embroiled in controversy over whether it would be replaced as national treasure number one. The current Sungryemun is guarded by a fence, and one can only look at it through from afar, but starting next summer, anyone will be able to enter the gates and enjoy it.
The Cultural Heritage Administration and Seoul Jung-gu Office have started building a viewing-path in Sungryemun since mid November. They plan to allow tourists to pass under the rainbow-shaped Hongyemun, which is located in the middle of Sungryemuns stonework, until the first half of next year.
Currently, examinations of the insides and floor of Hongyemun have been finished. Lighting equipment around it will be improved until mid December. Afterwards, construction of the path will fully begin.
The construction includes fixing bullet marks in the stonework, restoring Hongyemuns floor, and cleaning it. One attention-capturing task is restoring bullet marks presumed to have been inflicted during the Korean War. There are about 50 bullet marks in both right and left stone walls of Hongyemun. The restoration work plans to prevent the bullet marks from becoming larger cracks. This does not mean the bullet marks or any other cracks will be filled. The marks themselves are part of the history of Sungryemun, so they will not be eliminated.
Another important task is to lay bakseok, or wide and thin stone tiles, in the floor of Hongyemun. Originally, bakseok was laid in the floor, but after undergoing Japanese colonial rule, the bakseok was torn off and replaced by limestone. The Cultural Heritage Administration explained, Traditional buildings such as palaces had bakseok tiles. We are currently extracting bakseok material granite from the Ganghwa region, but it takes time. We think that bakseok construction will be completed by the first half of next year.
When the construction of the tourist path is finished, people will be able to go cross Sungryemun just Joseon era people used to do. It is expected that one will be able to closely see the charms of national treasure number one, the Sungryemun.