Taking Tradition Forward with Aspirations for an Imperial Capital
Following the conclusion of the Treaty of Ganghwa between Joseon and Japan in 1876, Joseon emerged on the global stage, establishing trade relations with foreign countries. In the mid-1880s, foreign enclaves began to crop up in Seoul and some Koreans returned home after traveling abroad. The Korean way of life changed markedly as a result.
In line with the declaration of the Korean Empire in 1897, King Gojong attempted to remake Seoul into a city befitting the capital of an empire. Gyeongungung Palace and Jeong-dong were typical places epitomizing the reformist aspirations of the Korean Empire, which pursued co-existence of tradition and modernity.
In 1896, temporary commercial buildings along Jongno were torn down and construction began on various modern facilities such as tramways and streetlights. Amidst such change, the Koreans gradually experienced modernity.
The Korean Empire formulated an urban renewal plan to remake Seoul into a city where tradition and modernity coexisted in harmony.
The Japanese frustrated this plan when they went to war with Russia and occupied Seoul in 1904.