The land plot in Songhyeon-dong, Jongno-gu, which is adjacent to Gyeongbokgung Palace and has remained the “forbidden land” for more than 100 years since the Japanese colonial occupation, will be open to the public. The Seoul City Government announced that the land will be temporarily open to the public until 2025, when the construction of the “Lee Kun-hee Donation Exhibition Center” will begin, with an opening date set in 2027. "This part of the land would be used for holding various cultural and art events that citizens could participate in," the city government said.
“The Songhyeon-dong plot (37,117 square meters) will be designed as a plaza and temporarily open from 5:30 p.m. Friday through December 2024 for two years. The surface area of the park plaza is three times as big as the Seoul Plaza (13,207 meters),” a city official said.
The 4-meter fence circling the land will be lowered to 1.2 meters so that the passerby can freely observe the plaza. Inside a stone wall sits a flower bed of wildflowers at the center of the plaza, where cosmos and garden zinnia will meet visitors.
The plaza will connect Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon, having been closed for more than 100 years, by a shortcut. The shortcut will lead to Cheong Wa Dae, Gwanghwamun Plaza, Insa-dong, and the alleyways of Bukchon.
The Songhyeon-dong site used to be the company housing site for Joseon Shiksan Bank, the capital of the colonial power, during the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea, and, after the liberation and until 1997, a housing site for the U.S. Forces in Korea and staff of the U.S. Embassy. The site was later acquired by Samsung Life Insurance and Korean Air and was left undeveloped for some 20 years. Upon a tripartite sales and exchange agreement among the Seoul City government, Korean Air, and LH, ownership of the land was transferred from Korean Air to LH. The city government official said the ownership would be transferred to Seoul City.
Seoul City plans to host the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism from May to October next year in the Songhyeon-dong site. The city is considering hosting the Freeze Seoul, an art fair that will inaugurate this year, at this site starting next year.