Seoul's Bukchon project has won the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards, city officials said Monday. It is the first time for Korea to win the award. The Bukchon project aims to conserve the historic and cultural landscape of the area, including traditional Korean homes or hanok.
The awards have been given to outstanding achievements in conserving or restoring architectural heritage in the Asia-Pacific region since 2000. Of 48 entries from 14 countries, Mongolia's project to restore the Sangiin Dalai Monastery won the Award of Excellence.
UNESCO said one of the Awards of Distinction went to the Hanok Regeneration in Bukchon project since it "has brought about a striking change in people's attitudes to the city's residential quarters. With successful collaboration among the municipality, community members, academics and citizens, the large-scale project has raised awareness about the heritage value of the hanok and preserved an important traditional Korean architectural legacy."
The village is a cluster of traditional Korean homes nestled between Gyeongbok and Changdeok palaces. The city government has been working to conserve and reinvigorate the hanok in the area spanning over 1.07 million sq. m since 2001.
Of 1,022 traditional homes, 300 received financial support for repairs and over 30 were purchased by the city to serve as cultural facilities. In December last year, Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon vowed to preserve 4,500 hanok in Seoul with a budget of W370 billion (US$1=W1,241) by 2018.