Korean Air will build a cultural complex, tentatively called the "K-Experience Contents Park," on a site previously used as the U.S. Embassy employees' residence, next to Gyeongbok Palace, as a part of the government's cultural enrichment plan. Industry sources believe that the decision was made in order to pursue both practical interest and justification.
Although Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho failed to construct a seven-star hotel on the site, which was his long-time dream, due to public opposition and differences of opinion between political parties, he has decided to build the Korean version of Roppongi Hills instead, planning to make it a new landmark in northern Seoul.
Tentatively named "K-Experience Contents Park," the 36,642 square-meter site in Songhyeon-dong will be developed into the latest cultural complex integrated with traditional culture. While featuring a traditional style of architecture such as curved eaves and “giwa,” or Korean traditional roof tiles, it will become the total culture center with performing arts facilities, restaurants, and traditional culture experience zones. Also, the center is expected to steadily attract tourists since it is located near major tourist attractions in Seoul, including Gyeongbok Palace, Gwanghwamun Gate, and Insa-dong.
An official from Korean Air said, “The K-Experience Contents Park, a 7 or 8-story building which has four to five floors above ground and three floors below, is scheduled to complete the first stage of the project by 2017. It is benchmarking the world’s famous landmarks, such as Japan’s Roppongi Hills, the U.S.’ L.A. LIVE, and China’s Xintiandi in Shanghai.”
Once the cultural complx is completed, Hanjin Group is expected to make considerable profits. With the expertise of the tourism industry accumulated by operating the air carrier for a long period of time, the group will create a huge synergy effect when it owns a large-scale multipurpose cultural facility. Moreover, it will greatly contribute to activating Korea’s tourism industry, which has suffered from a number of variables, including the global economic recession.
Indeed, L.A. LIVE, which is an inspiration for the “K-Experience Contents Park”, is considered a typical case that transformed a whole city that had lost vitality.
The Hanjin Group is planning to divide the cultural complex into three major parts – open space, combined space, and traditional space.
There will be a citizen square and coffee shops in the open space, while there will be art galleries and restaurants in the combined space. In the traditional space, there will be a walking trail across downtown and displays of traditional artwork made by master artisans.