[FOUNTAIN]New embassy inherits history

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[FOUNTAIN]New embassy inherits history

The descendent of the old Russian Legation, which was built in Jeong-dong in 1890, has recently revealed its splendor. The senior legation was a topic of dinner conversation because of its proximity to Deoksu Palace and Renaissance architectural style, and the new embassy building attracts attention for much of the same reason 112 years later.

The new Russian Embassy, which has numerous small windows, stands near an apartment complex where families of Russian diplomats will live, so the chancellery is very large. Some say the new embassy building changed the atmosphere in the neighborhood.

The new Russian Embassy is located across the street from a U.S. financial company near Baejae Park, which is not far from the U.S. Embassy, the U.K. Embassy and the National Police Agency building. That is why some people say they feel a tense intelligence war under way in the area.

The official opening ceremony for the new building will be attended by Igor Ivanov, Russia's foreign minister. Mr. Ivanov, who is called the world's busiest foreign minister along with his U.S. counterpart, was scheduled to attend the ceremony in late July, the vacation season. Observers say Mr. Ivanov's visit has significance beyond the simple celebration of the opening of a new building.

The new Russian Embassy is the first embassy building that Russia has built in the non-communist world since the end of World War II.

The old Russian Legation is intertwined with the tumults of modern Korean history, as we can see from the case in 1896 when King Gojong and the crown prince took refuge in that building for one year to escape the threat of the Japanese military.

Russians reportedly paid a great amount of attention to the construction of the new embassy building. A Korean company did the basic construction job, but Russian technicians put the finishing touches on the entire site.

Russian engineers reinstalled lights and repositioned doorknobs. The ceiling was reinforced to withstand the weight of a few helicopters. The front gate was built in such a way that it could thwart terrorist attacks or an invasion of unwelcome figures.

The inside of the building may feature modern conveniences, but the outer appearance of the new embassy building cannot be described as stylish, in contrast to the old legation building, which was famous for its beautiful Renaissance turrets.

Maybe that is the difference between the Russian Kingdom and modern Russia.

The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.

by Kim Seok-hwan

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