[EDITORIALS]Forget Park’s wooden plaqueAs part of a plan to restore the original state of Gyeongbok Palace, the Cultural Heritage Administration is planning to change the wooden board that reads “Gwanghwamun” in Korean that crowns its central gate.
It will be replaced with a board with letters written by King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty. The current board, written in 1968 by the late President Park Chung Hee, does not comply with the character and style of the original board that was written in Chinese characters. We think that a plaque that was written by Park Chung Hee is not appropriate to hang at the central gate of the Joseon Dynasty palace, except for the reason that he restored the gate. Nevertheless, it is also hard to understand why a plaque that has been in its place for years should be replaced right now. It has been in that place for more than 35 years. That fact itself is also history.
Especially, we cannot but suspect whether the plan to change the board is designed by the current government as part of a political ploy. Otherwise it is hard to explain the recent disclosure of the South Korea-Japan Treaty of 1965 that normalized ties between the two countries and the disclosure of documents regarding a failed assassination attempt on Park Chung Hee that resulted in the death of First Lady Yuk Young-soo. Mr. Park was at the center of all these events.
We think that the Cultural Heritage Administration does not need to change the plaque. Its intentions are suspicious. If the administration is really interested in reconstructing Gwanghwamun, it should start with changing the cement structure to a wooden structure following the original design of the building and then change the plaque. If only the board with Mr. Park’s calligraphy is to change and nothing else, this will be hard to understand.
Since 1990, the restoration of the palace has been ongoing under a 20-year plan. In 2009, reconstruction of the gate will be finished. Then about 40 percent of the old palace will be restored. The original board of Gwanghwamun, written by calligrapher Jeong Hak-gyo, was destroyed when the original structure was burned. Without changing the current name plaque to one that is closer to what the original looked like is just a stop-gap measure. It does not take a fortune to reconstruct Gwanghwamun. Reconstruct the gate first and then discuss changing the name plaque.