OWL Magazine Korea

Seoul Records Center” at Seoul Bulgwang Station

The Seoul Records Center is an institution located within the Seoul Innovation Park in Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul. It was established on January 4, 2018, and opened to the public on May 15, 2019.

Operating under the “Public Records Management Act” Article 11 and the “Local Autonomy Act” Article 1114, the Seoul Records Center is a local records management agency affiliated with the Seoul Metropolitan Government. It relocated all the documents that were previously housed in the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s main office and Seosomun Branch Office Document Center, as well as those from the Cheongdo County Office in Hwayang-eup, Cheongdo-gun, north of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Cheongdo Document Center.

“Finding Seoul Records Center within Seoul Innovation Park”

The Seoul Records Center can be found in the southeast of Seoul Innovation Park, to the right of Yeonsudong. It serves as a repository for various records related to Seoul.

Furthermore, it provides an open space for citizens and hosts various exhibitions related to records. There are a total of three exhibition halls, each featuring different themes.

The exhibition spaces are located on the 2nd and 3rd floors. On the 2nd floor, there is a corridor exhibition space, and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd exhibition halls can also be found on this floor. On the 3rd floor, there are exhibition spaces, though there were relatively fewer interesting exhibits compared to the lower floors.

“Exhibition Hall 1: Han River, Flow of Memories in Seoul”

On the day of my visit, the first exhibition hall featured an exhibition titled “Han River, Flow of Memories in Seoul.” This exhibition showcased the Han River, which flows through the heart of Seoul, and its development over time. Below is the official description provided by the Seoul Records Center:

“The Han River is a vast natural and historical landmark that crosses through the heart of Seoul, the center of South Korea. Since the founding of the Joseon Dynasty in 1392 and the establishment of Hanyang as the capital, the Han River has been the focal point of culture, society, economy, and transportation for over 500 years. People gathered along the banks of the Han River, forming commercial zones, and the aristocrats built pavilions or sailed on boats to enjoy the scenery and culture. The Korean War that erupted in 1950 brought suffering to the Han River, but after the war, redevelopment projects and the Han River development project in the 1960s began to bring about changes. Additionally, with the decision to host the Seoul Olympics in 1988, large-scale development led to the construction of urban infrastructure and sports facilities. Thus, the Han River has firmly established itself as a hub of transportation and culture from the past to the present. Meanwhile, there were side effects accompanying development and progress. Environmental pollution led to ecological disruption, and as the sandy shores of the Han River disappeared, simple pleasures such as swimming and skateboarding along the river became difficult. However, through well-maintained Han River Citizen Parks and various festivals, the Han River has once again become a ‘healing destination’ for the citizens of Seoul. The Seoul Records Center shares the public records of Seoul surrounding the massive ‘memory warehouse’ that is the Han River, allowing us to examine the changes in the landscape of the Han River and the historical changes in the lives of Seoul citizens. We hope that this will be an opportunity for citizens to reflect on what the Han River means to us.”

“Exhibition Hall 2: Manifestation of Records: Residents of Jugong Apartments”

The second exhibition hall featured an exhibition titled “Residents’ Records of Jugong Apartments.” This exhibition delved into the development of Jugong Apartments and the lives of the local residents. Below is the Seoul Records Center’s introduction to the exhibition:

“In the 1980s, as the population of Seoul rapidly increased, the government directly engaged in housing development and supply, pledging to construct ‘5 million homes.’ Thus, starting with Banpo Jugong Apartments in 1973, Dunchon Jugong Apartments (1980), Gaepo Jugong Apartments (1981-83), Godeok Jugong Apartments (1983-84), and the Gwacheon Jugong Apartments (1981-84) near the new town of Gwacheon were built.

Now, over 30 years later, the aging Jugong Apartments have either been rebuilt or are on the verge of reconstruction. However, even if the foundation of life is lost due to reconstruction, there are still a few people who want to preserve the memories of life. They took photos, wrote, gathered people, and compiled books to faithfully record the final moments of life at home, and they wished to remember. The activities of these individuals became citizen records. This exhibition showcases various citizen records created at Dunchon, Godeok, Gaepo, and Gwacheon Jugong Apartments, capturing the unique movement where citizen records are transmitted and disseminated to other groups. The movement of the person who began recording Dunchon Jugong Apartments spread to others and further extended to residents of other redeveloped apartments, expanding into a ‘community archive.’ The six teams of citizen recorders, ‘Maulesumeo,’ ‘MAGNETIC 5,’ ‘Godeok Reconstruction Record Preservation Society,’ ‘Cultural Arts Cooperative Aiya,’ ‘GaePoDong That Place,’ and ‘Gwacheon Jugong Apartments 101 Unit 102,’ through various activities such as photography, investigation, memory collection, workshops, and book publishing, faithfully recorded and wanted to remember the last moments of life at home.

The citizen records being created in various places now are leaving behind the stories of life that public records cannot capture, becoming ‘small histories.’ The Seoul Records Center is paying attention to citizen records as a precious means of sharing the stories of the people of Seoul.”

“Exhibition Hall 3: Beside the Photo Studio”

The final exhibition space on the 2nd floor is called “Beside the Photo Studio, Next to the Darkroom.” As the name suggests, this exhibition focuses on photography and provides an opportunity to appreciate the culture of photography based on historical contexts. Below is the Seoul Records Center’s introduction to the exhibition:

“‘Beside the Photo Studio’ is the first collaborative exhibition between the Seoul Records Center and the Photo Archive Research Institute. It examines ‘Seoul’s photo culture’ with the theme of photo studios and photographic material vendors.

Until now, research on Korean photography has mainly focused on photographic works (art photography) as records and means of expression. However, the history of photography is a history of ‘technological development in photography’ before the ‘history of artistic photography,’ and it is also a ‘history of the photography industry.’ Therefore, this exhibition focuses on the material conditions in which a single photograph is created, beyond photographs as creations or images. It pays attention to the conditions that led to the creation of a single photograph, and explores photography and photographic materials, which were produced and distributed by photo studios and photographic material vendors. It provides another perspective on Korean photography.

Specifically, it gathers traces of photographic studios that commemorated moments of life and rites of passage with portrait photographs, as well as photo studios and material vendors that imported and sold photographic equipment, film, and printing paper. It also documents photo studios responsible for film development, printing, and enlargement (DP&E). The exhibition mainly covers photo studios and photographic material vendors that operated between 1883, when photography was introduced to Korea, and 1961, when all photography groups were merged into the Korea Photography Association. The exhibition primarily focuses on the Jongno and Myeongdong areas, where they were concentrated.

This exhibition, prepared with photographs and print materials from the Photo Archive Research Institute entrusted to the Seoul Records Center, also shows how everyday and ordinary objects can become pieces of history that connect and tell the story of photography and cultural history through archives.

We hope this exhibition will evoke memories and nostalgia for the analog era of photography and provide a diverse opportunity to understand Korean photo culture.”

“Free Admission to the Exhibition”

The exhibitions at the Seoul Records Center can be visited for free. They are open until 5:00 PM on Sundays, making it convenient for visitors even on weekends.

Especially if you have children, exploring Seoul Innovation Park with them and visiting the Seoul Records Center together would be a great experience.

“Seoul Bugwang Station, Seoul Records Center”

  • Address: 7 Tongil-ro 62-gil, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul
  • Phone: 02-350-5601
  • Opening Hours: (Tue-Sun) 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Closed on Mondays
  • Website: https://archives.seoul.go.kr