I was in Namdaemun early this week and the cityscape displayed in front of me brings me back to Manila – Luneta, in particular. Luneta is a big park in the Philippines where the Rizal Monument stands. The Rizal Monument had been standing proud since 1913 in honor of the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
A few years back, DMCI Project Developers Inc. was granted the legal right by the City Manila to build Torre de Manila, a residential condominium, the location of which stands directly behind the Rizal Monument. Because of this, it has notoriously earned the monicker “the national eyesore”.
Back to where I was standing.
In front of me was the Sungnyemun Gate.
This was designated as National Treasure No. 1 on December 20, 1962. You see, Sungnyemun (which means the south Gate of Seoul) was built in 1398. It forms part of the four main gates of the capital city of the Joseon Dynasty. That capital city is now what we call Seoul. An arsonist set fire to this national treasure in 2008 but the government immediately restored it. What struck me really was that the Sungnyemun Gate stands proud in the midst of the buildings around it. It doesn’t lose its charm nor its historical significance.
Walking further down towards the Seoul Station, I consciously looked at the beautiful orange building that was once the Seoul Station. It now stands beside the contemporary-looking design of the new Seoul Station. The 2 buildings serve the same purpose, albeit at different times. But there they are… side by side. The beautiful architecture of the old orange Seoul Station stands out.
I remember an ancient-looking gazebo at the Yoido Park that I once took a picture of with the LG Twins Tower behind it. The old and the new. They don’t antagonize each other.
And I feel sad for my country. So much money wasted for legalities. There’s an opportunity for symbolic moving on halted because it is still awaiting for the Supreme Court’s final decision.