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Korean Contemporary Architecture

Korean architecture entered a new phase of development during the post-Korean War reconstruction efforts, with the return of two ambitious young architects of great talent from overseas--Kim Chung-op from France and Kim Su-gun from Japan. The office-residence of the French Embassy in Seoul by Kim Chung-op, and the Liberty Center by Kim Su-gun, both constructed in the early 1960s, were a refreshing addition to Seoul's architectural environment. Both artists were influenced by the brutalism of Le Corbusier, but their different approaches have contributed greatly to the development of Korean architecture and have been a point of continuing academic debate.

Some structures of special note in Seoul include Kim Chung-op's Samillo Building, significant because it introduced new technology in the 1970s; Om Tok-mun's Sejong Cultural Center; Pak Chun-myong's 63-story Daehan Life Insurance Building; and Kim Su-gun's Kyongdong Presbyterian Church and the Olympic Stadium, showing the influence of the lines of Choson ceramics.

After the era of Kim Su-gun and Kim Chung-op, there came an age of experimentation and diversity in Korean architecture. Some of the most notable examples are Kim Seok-chul's Seoul Arts Center, Kim Won's Kugaktang and Yun Sung-jun's High Court Complex, Hwang Il-in's City Airport Terminal and Cho Sung-ryong's Athlete's Apartments at the Olympic village.

In the aftermath of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, South Korea has witnessed a wide variation of styles in its architectural landscape due, in large part, to the opening up of the market to foreign architects. Moreover, forced to keep abreast with international trends, Koreans have been coming up with ways to combine the traditional Korean sense of aesthetics and beauty with the international tastes and the functional demands of contemporary life.

Needless to say, one of the greatest tasks of the architectural community is to protect the country's great architectural legacy by achieving a harmonious relationship between the ancient styles and modern structures.

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Seoul City Hall

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