For the first time in, well, almost as long as I can remember, we had sunshine today.
To commemorate this glorious event, I ran over to Myeong-dong during my lunch hour to shoot some shots of the neighborhood from the roof garden of the UNESCO Building.
(Be sure to click on the photos to get the full-sized, 1,200px versions)
As it would turn out, the roof garden appears to be closed, although by a stroke of luck, I found somebody who was kind enough to open it up. At one time, the garden must have been quite nice, but it’s doesn’t appear to have been maintained in a while.
Why, I don’t know.
Oh, and for those architecture nerds out there, the UNESCO Building was completed in 1968, and Seoul has been keen to designate it a modern cultural property.
Meh… perhaps I should just buy the f*ing filter.
And yes, I shot the two photos above in RAW (or NEF, as it were) and post-processed them in LightZone, a Lightroom clone for Linux. I’m quite clueless as far as post-processing goes — I mostly shoot jpgs or TIFFs and process them with Picasa, and by “process,” I mean hitting “I’m feeling lucky.”
Yep, it’s Myeong-dong Cathedral, along with the two very important axillary structures off to its side. The one on the left is the former bishop’s residence — built in 1890, it is the oldest surviving Western-style building in Korea.
How much longer you’ll be able to see this view, I don’t know, as the Archdiocese of Seoul is planning to construct some high-rise offices right next to the old auxiliary buildings as part of a controversial plan to redevelop the cathedral area. On a related note, I attended a debate not long ago on the redevelopment plan for the cathedral, and one of the presenters proposed the rather interesting idea of submitting Myeong-dong Cathedral and some other Catholic sites around the country for registry with UNESCO. This is, in fact, what Japan has done with Nagasaki’s Catholic sites. Given the unique history of Catholicism in Korea and the importance of Christianity in modern Korea, I think it would be great if the Ministry of Culture pushed such a plan, either for the Catholic sites alone or together with Korea’s historic Anglican and Protestant churches.
PS: As hard is it may be to believe by looking at these photographs, there was a time that Myeongdong Cathedral was the tallest structure in the city.
The eye-catching building in the lower-left corner is Myeongdong Theater, formerly the National Theater of Korea and, before that, a movie theater during the Japanese colonial era.
From this view, we can see why Seoul wants to improve the aesthetic quality of its rooftops — there’s a lot of clutter up there.
After work, I headed with the camera for an officetel a short walk along the Cheonggyecheon from the Samil Building. There’s a rooftop garden that’s open to anyone, with good views of the Cheonggyecheon and Jongno.
The sunset was pretty magical today, producing a beautiful orange—purple halo silhouetting the mountains surrounding downtown Seoul.
And for the architecture nerds, the YMCA Building, completed in 1968, is one of Seoul’s most important pieces of 1960s architecture, and probably on somebody’s short list for registration with the Cultural Heritage Administration.
I knew I bought that 50mm lens for a reason…
The brick church in the lower left corner is Seung Dong Presbyterian Church (1914). It was probably the biggest building in the neighborhood for quite some time after it was built. Now it’s well hidden in an alley off Insa-dong’s main drag.
And the Cheonggyecheon still flows…
Like I said, the dusk sky was amazing tonight. Surreal, actually. Well, with all the rain, I guess we were owed a decent evening for a change.