March 15, 2010 11:33
The gates of one of Korea's five grand palaces were unlocked for public use last week. The Cultural Heritage Administration opened part of Changdeok Palace in downtown Seoul from Thursday to Saturday as a trial period before it officially becomes available as a venue for business meetings in May.
"Korean heritage sites which are mostly built out of wood are preserved better when put to use. The royal palaces have been closed for public use, but by making Changdeok Palace available for business meetings, we wanted to prove that they could be better preserved this way," the CHA said.
Built for the kings of the Chosun Dynasty, Changdeok Palace was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. It was praised by the UNESCO committee as an "outstanding example of Far Eastern palace architecture" in which buildings are "integrated into and harmonized with the natural setting."
During the three-day trial period, business meetings were held in Yeongyeong Hall, a room previously occupied by the master of the palace. In order to create a homey atmosphere, it was kept warm by a fireplace and traditional snacks were served.
This marks the first time the palace has been made available for business meetings. Once it is fully equipped with the necessary high-tech facilities, it can become a regular location for important events.
With the trial deemed a success, the palace will open again in April to seek ways to make further improvements before it officially unfastens its gates in May.
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