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Researchers Produce Maps of 2 Seoul Streets in 1930s

Posted December. 28, 2009 11:47,   


What are the exact locations of famous places in Seoul in modern Korean history, such as the coffee shop Jebi run by renowned poet Lee Sang, the restaurant Nakwonhoigwan, and the bar Mexico, where former politician Kim Doo-han and his confidants often got together?

Yeo Hwan-jin, a graduate architecture student at Yonsei University in Seoul, and architecture professors Masaura Domii and Han Dong-soo of Hanyang University recently restored a 1930s map of the Seoul streets of Jongro and Myeongdong. They completed the land registration map of the area in the 1930s and found the names of the stores in each number of the streets.

They then placed the photos of old buildings on the map. The size of the map measures 25 meters covering both streets.

Jongro Street begins from Ilmin Art Museum on Sejong Street (former building of The Dong-A Ilbo) and ends at Dongdaemun, while the Myeongdong Street covers the area from the main store of Shinsegae Department Store (formerly Mitsukoshi Department Store) to Dongguk University. The strips measure two and 2.8 kilometers, respectively, in a straight line.

Yeo said, “The map is close to a perfect replica based on data such as the yellow pages and store lists from those times from the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry collected from old bookstores and newspaper articles and ads.”

The map project began early last year and took more than 18 months to complete.

Based on the data, Yeo found the store name, business type, address, telephone number and nationality of the store owner at each number on the street. He also used 40,000 postcards and photos of modern buildings collected from his childhood to create a cubic replica of the street scenes of those times.

According to the map, the coffee shop Jebi was located at 44 Jongro Street. Though it was widely known to have been located at the spot where the main building of SC First Bank stands today, it is a few buildings away toward Gwanghwamun.

Yeo said, “In the description of Lee Sang by the author Park Tae-won (who used the pen name Gubo), Jebi was on the first floor of the mining office during the Joseon Dynasty. When we looked up the address of the office in the yellow pages during those times, it was different from the one known today.”

The address of the restaurant Nakwonhoigwan was 77 Jongro 2-chome (2nd Jongro Street) and the bar Mexico was right across the street at 14.

By restoring both streets together, it is possible to compare the “Japanese streets” of the 1930s with the “Korean streets” of today.