Jeju government won’t save architectural treasure

Posted on : 2012-10-17 15:42 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Work by deceased architect Ricardo Legorreta to be demolished for resort development
 a model house inside the Jeju‘s Jungmun Resort by the world-renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta.
a model house inside the Jeju‘s Jungmun Resort by the world-renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta.

By Huh Ho-joon, Jeju correspondent

The Jeju provincial government reiterated its plans to allow the demolishing of the Casa del Agua gallery, a work by renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta that is located near the Anchor Hotel in Seogwipo’s Jungmun Tourism Complex.

The province made it clear in an Oct. 16 written response to a parliamentary audit that the Casa would not be maintained. Previously, New Frontier Party lawmaker Kim Ki-sun and other members of the National Assembly Public Administration & Safety Committee said in their audit of the provincial government that the plans to demolish the building “showed a problem in the Jeju provincial government‘s cultural mind.”

The committee members implored the governor to take action to resolve the problem, saying the “Administrative regulations shouldn’t be put ahead of the value of cultural heritage.”

Han Dong-ju, general director of the province’s culture, tourism, and sports bureau, explained in an Oct. 16 briefing that Jeju had “no choice but to go ahead with the demolition according to the related laws, unless there is consent from Booyoung, the land’s owner.”

Han also said that if the Casa is relocated and preserved for its cultural value, the owners, JID, would have to give up all intellectual property rights, which would entail donating the original copy of the design.

Han added the possibility of restoring the gallery as a permanent structure in a suitable location, either by raising funds from residents who sympathize with the preservation effort or by enlisting the support of Booyoung and other companies.

But most observers said the idea is not realistic.

The Casa was originally erected by JID in August 2008 as a model house for its resort condominiums. The controversy erupted after the usage period ended on June 30 of last year and its demolition was planned.

Jeju is maintaining its position that the structure must be demolished. The Mexican embassy and South Korean architects have asked the central and local governments to preserve it as a posthumous work by a world-renowned architect.

Cultural Solidarity for Casa del Agua, an organization of local assembly members, architectural scholars, and artists, plans to stage a civic cultural festival at the building at 3 pm on Oct. 20 to support its preservation.


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