OWL Magazine Korea

National Jeongdong Theater: Preserving Traditional Arts in Seoul’s Historic Heart

The rumor goes that couples who walk along Deoksugung Stone Wall Road end up parting ways, and this road is part of Jeongdong-gil. Stretching from the road adjacent to Deoksugung’s Daehanmun Gate to Seodaemun, this is Jeongdong-gil.

Jeongdong-gil also holds historical significance at the core of Seoul’s history. Going back to the Joseon era, it was the location of the royal tomb of Queen Sindeok, the second wife of King Taejo Lee Seong-gye. This contributed to the road being named Jeongdong-gil.

Entering the modern era, this area witnessed significant events in Korea’s modern history as various legations from different countries were established here.

“Preserving the History of the Korean Empire: Jeongdong-gil”

The Jeongdong-gil area remains a focal point of historical significance. From Deoksugung, once the royal palace of the Korean Empire, to the former Russian Legation where the Eulsa Treaty was signed, this area is rich with historical sites.

Even today, as you can explore nearby places like Gyeongbokgung Palace, Deoksugung, Gwanghwamun Square, and Seoul City Hall, Jeongdong-gil continues to weave its historical narrative at the heart of Seoul.

“Seoul Jeongdong: National Jeongdong Theater”

At the heart of Jeongdong-gil, you’ll find the National Jeongdong Theater. Established on November 15, 1996, under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, it is a foundation designated as a public organization for the promotion of traditional culture preservation, succession, development, and performing arts.

It was initially established as a branch of the National Theater of Korea in 1995 with the restoration of the modern-style Won-gak Temple. Since then, it has become an independent foundation and continues its mission to this day.

“Strolling Through Jeongdong-gil’s Night View and Visiting the National Jeongdong Theater”

Embracing Friday night, I took a walk from Deoksugung Stone Wall Road to Jeongdong-gil. The chilly winter had passed, and it was a perfect evening for a leisurely stroll with the arrival of spring.

The buskers performing on the streets against the backdrop of Deoksugung Stone Wall Road added a charming touch to the night.

Particularly, a violinist playing on the street near the National Jeongdong Theater created a unique atmosphere, blending seamlessly with the scenic view of the theater.

“Exploring the Café Inside National Jeongdong Theater”

Inside the National Jeongdong Theater, you can find a café on the first floor. The interior exudes a traditional yet modern ambiance, with red brick walls, befitting its purpose as a theater built for the preservation of traditional Korean arts. It was a night when you could finally feel the warmth after enduring the cold winter, and you could also see people enjoying their time in the outdoor seating area. It felt like spring had returned with its lively atmosphere.

“A Café Interior Adorned with Traditional Ambiance”

The café interior on the first floor is also designed to exude a traditional Korean ambiance. As a theater built for traditional Korean arts, it seemed to be well-suited to this purpose with its interior decor.

While this time I didn’t come to enjoy a performance, it seems like a great place to utilize for dates or friendly gatherings, given the unique and subtle atmosphere it offers.

“Seoul Jeongdong: National Jeongdong Theater”