OWL Magazine Korea

Woori Bank Gwangtonggwan in Jongno, Seoul

In the Jongno area of Seoul, various cultural heritages can be discovered. Walking along the main road from Jonggak Station towards Euljiro-1ga Station, you will come across a building to the east known as “Gwangtonggwan.”

Presently utilized as the Woori Bank building, it is the “Woori Bank Jongno Financial Center.”

“Gwangtonggwan (廣通館): A Modern Cultural Heritage Used as Woori Bank Building”

Gwangtonggwan is the oldest bank building in South Korea. Constructed in 1907 by the Financial Department of the Daehan Empire as a financial meeting place, both the design and construction were overseen by the department’s architecture division. Construction began in 1908, and it was completed a year later in 1909.

After completion, the building was occupied by Daehan Cheonil Bank and the Agricultural Cooperative Association, both utilizing the first floor. However, their spaces were separate, each having its entrance. The second floor housed meeting rooms, smoking rooms, waiting rooms, reception rooms, and other assembly spaces.

In February 1914, a fire broke out, leading to reconstruction a year later. During this time, partial modifications were made. Changes were made to the dome, decorations, some windows, and there were minor alterations to the structure to accommodate the evolving times.

Subsequently, Jongno Gwangtonggwan became the Jongno Branch of the Joseon Commercial Bank. During the Japanese occupation era, the section from Jongno to Namdaemun-ro became a hub for finance and commerce. Notable facilities included Hwashin Department Store, Dongil Bank, Hansung Bank, Joseon Commercial Bank Jongno Branch (Gwangtonggwan), Joseon Shiksan Bank, Joseon Commercial Bank Headquarters, Mitsukoshi Department Store, Joseon Savings Bank, and Joseon Bank. Gwangtonggwan, in this context, became a symbol of Seoul’s finance.

After the Liberation on August 15, it became the Jongno Branch of Korea Commercial Bank, then Hanbit Bank, and presently serves as Woori Bank Jongno Financial Center. On March 5, 2002, it was designated as Seoul Metropolitan City Monument No. 19.

“Seoul Jongno Gwangtonggwan”

  • Address: 118 Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul