Culture Station 284. Museum in Seoul, South Korea

Culture Station 284

Museum in Seoul, South Korea

문화역서울284 내부 Photo © 문화체육관광부

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Culture Station 284

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Culture Station Seoul 284 - Culture Station 284
Culture Station Seoul 284 - Culture Station 284. Photo by Robert Koehler
Designed by Professor Tsukamoto Yasushi of Tokyo University, construction of Gyeongsang Station was started in 1922 and competed in 1925. The design is remarkably European with a Byzantine central dome with a large arching entryway which welcomes visitors. For the next 80 years, the station went through a number of upgrades and name changes while it served as Seoul’s locomotive central hub.
In 2004, a new station was constructed to replace the aging Seoul Station which was closed down. In 2011, it was reopened and rebranded as “Culture Station 284” reflecting its status as National Treasure No. 284. Now the station plays host to a variety of exhibits and has been rebranded as a museum/exhibition hall.

Culture Station Seoul
	284 - Culture Station 284
Culture Station Seoul 284 - Culture Station 284. Photo by Yun Chung

A Historic Occupation

The Japanese annexation of Korea started in 1876 with the Japan-Korea Treaty. This officially brought Korea politically and economically into the fold of the Japanese Empire as a protectorate and finally under annexation in 1905 with another treaty. For the next forty years, Korea lived and breathed under Japanese rule until the end of World War II when Japan lost rights to all of its annexations and colonies in Asia.
During those forty years, Korea saw an unprecedented boom in agriculture and industry as well as a spike in population. The railway expanded and the telephone saw widespread usage officially bringing Korea into modern times and introducing modern technology. The tradeoff was, of course, social turmoil, loss of political control and the loss of historical monuments, structures, and treasures.
Now, decades later there are barely any signs of Japanese occupation left in Korea. Since 1945, there has been a concentrated effort on the part of South Korea to find and remove symbols of Japanese Imperialism in Korea. Seoul has rebuilt many parts of Gyeongbokgung Palace demolished during annexation and the Government-General Building which served as the center of the Japanese Government in Korea has long since been removed. Even Seoul City Hall has been remodeled, although the main structure was converted into a library.
Seoul Culture Station 284 is the only structure in Korea whose design has, not only been left relatively faithful to its original design but, has been renovated to serve as a cultural hotspot.

문화역서울284 - Culture Station 284
문화역서울284 - Culture Station 284. Photo by 문화체육관광부

A Cultural Exhibition Space

Since reopening in 2011, Culture Station 284 has hosted a number of exhibitions spanning the arts, architecture, and history. Nowadays the station has a basic entrance fee of 2,000 Won which can increase depending on the exhibitions being featured inside.
For the most part, the station hosts design and architecture exhibitions which are more than fitting consider the location. But there are also performance exhibitions and installations that appear from time to time. The exhibits rarely last longer than a month or two at a time so it’s almost guaranteed that return trips will yield different experiences.
The exterior of the station hasn’t seen extensive renovation or remodeling to keep the design as close to the original. The Byzantine central dome and the Baroque brick work are all still there, just much cleaner than they’ve been since the station first opened.
Once you walk in the doors, it’s obvious that the same considerations weren’t made for the interior. Most of the renovations were for the better, air conditioning, heating and wheel chair access to name a few. The crystal chandelier in the main hall and stained glass above it are a few pieces that were added in after the renovation.
The second floor of the station has a “Recovery Exhibition” featuring molding, tools and pieces of the station before it was refinished. Originally a barber shop, this is one of the few parts of the station with bare brick walls and original window frames on display. The beauty of the new designs aside, it’s impossible not to wonder at what the entire place would have looked like with red brick on every wall and bronzed stonework adorning the doorways.
The rest of the rooms range from being midsized to large enough to fit entire banquets. Depending on the day, some of the rooms may be cordoned off in preparation. But for anyone lucky enough to be able to wander through the entire structure unimpeded, it’s not just the exhibits but the classic layout and design of the station that’s worth exploring.

Nearby Attractions

Culture Station Seoul is located right outside exit no. 2 of the current Seoul Station. In addition to being on the No. 4, No. 1, and Airport Railroad subway lines, Seoul Station is also a KTX hub. That means it connects to just about any part of South Korea with a train station.
Of course Seoul City Hall, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and Myeongdong are all a short ride away via bus or subway. Seoul Station is the central hub of Seoul and a great jumping off point for anyone looking to get out of the city.

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Author: bludreamers. Last updated: Apr 04, 2016

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