The Seoul Metropolitan Government published its master plan for the protection and restoration of Bukchon in December 2001.
Five years later, what has been achieved? These photographs taken early February 2007 in Kahoi-Dong 31 provide one indication of how successfully the government has spent the budget for the project.
Kahoi-Dong 31 is a particularly important area because only here were whole streets of original hanoks from early in the last century. Moreover, the hanoks were generally in good condition and also the homes for families of ordinary people.
For this reason, Kahoi-Dong 31 was graded as an S1 district by the government, both to recognize its importance and to confer the highest level of preservation status.
What has the Bukchon Plan achieved ? Far from being protected, many of the original hanoks have been shamelessly demolished and replaced with modern two-storey buildings. From the street, this is seldom evident since creating the new buildings involves both excavating for the lower storey and raising the overall height of the building.
The small apartment blocks remain, though at one point the idea of the government buying these from their owners and re-building authentic hanoks on the sites was mooted.
The bizarre doorways and other less-than-authentic features also remain on many buildings.
Five years of restoration work has achieved no more than a sharp reduction in the number of authentic hanoks in Kahoi-Dong.
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