[EDITORIALS]U.S. Embassy needs a homeArcheological tests of the piece of land that was once part of the old Deoksu Palace grounds and which the U.S. Embassy in Seoul had acquired might make it difficult for the embassy to build on the land. Having conducted various tests on the 43,560-square-meter, or 11-acre, grounds, a joint evaluation group announced that it found the remains of the small path and the cornerstone of the door used by the Emperor Gojong when he fled the palace to find refuge at the Russian Embassy from increasing Japanese pressure. The piece of land is “the most sacred space of Deoksu Palace,” containing Seonweonjeon, the building where the official portrait of the kings was kept and Heungdeokjeon, where the souls and bodies of the dead kings were laid. The group advised that the grounds be “definitely preserved” and that there was “no need for further digging for geological or archeological purposes” to confirm this opinion.
The group’s evaluation is not legally binding. The final decision on how the land is used will be decided by related divisions of the Committee of Cultural Properties. However, with the evaluation and the precarious level of anti-American sentiments since the candlelight rallies last year, the U.S. Embassy is not likely to insist on building a new home there. Both the U.S. Embassy and the Korean government seem to agree on this.
On the other hand, the construction of the new embassy building can’t be postponed indefinitely. We have demanded that the U.S. Embassy give us back the building that it is currently using on Sejongno, and it is reported that the embassy might also have to vacate its employee lodgings in Anguk-dong.
The government should start searching for an alternative site that can satisfy both the United States and the public. A reasonable solution should be provided that takes into consideration the fact that it was at the government’s request that the U.S. Embassy bought the palace grounds in the first place, that the U.S. diplomatic delegation has been located in the Jeong-dong vicinity for 119 years, since 1883, and that Russia will move into a newly constructed building in the area.