A princely audience for film on Gwanghwamun
LONDON - A documentary chronicling the restoration of Gwanghwamun - the main gate of Korea’s most prominent palace dating to the Joseon Dynasty - premiered in London on Monday and drew an A-list audience.
Prince Charles of Wales was joined by Hong Seok-hyun, chairman of the JoongAng Ilbo, and about 300 other people at the premiere, which was held at the Curzon Mayfair cinema.
The documentary, titled “The Arch of Enlightenment,” is part of the “Masterpieces” series by West Park Pictures, a British documentary producer, recording the restoration of famous historic sites. The Prince’s Charities Foundation, founded by Prince Charles, supports the “Masterpieces” series. The JoongAng Ilbo was a local partner in the endeavor.
“The archway, originally built in the 14th century, is not merely ornamental; it has always been seen as an important symbol for the Korean people, representing wisdom, peace and prosperity and as such became an almost inevitable target,” said Prince Charles at the event.
“The Arch of Enlightenment” - also the English name for the gate - was filmed between 2007 and 2010, which coincided with the actual restoration.
Since it was originally constructed in 1395 as the main gate to Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Gwanghwamun has been restored three times. The first time was in 1860’s following damage by Japanese invaders in the 1590s. The second was in the 1960’s, after the devastation of the Korean War.
The second restoration, however, did not return the gate to its original orientation - it only moved it to the same spot. During Japanese colonial rule, the gate was moved inward to make room for the Japanese Governor General Building. It was only until the third and most recent restoration that Gwanghwamun was reangled to face north from the outside. This process is detailed in the documentary.
Prince Charles thanked Hong for his help in the documentary. “The film and book could not have been made without the help of a great many individuals and, most significantly, without the generous support of Hong Seok-hyun,” Prince Charles said.
Hong said in reply, “When the Prince’s Charities Foundation, known for its work to protect precious cultural properties around the world, joined the project, it became clear to us that we were not alone. I have high hopes that Gwanghwamun will remain a source of light to extinguish the darkness of ignorance that still afflicts our world.”
The documentary was directed by Howard Reid, a British documentary filmmaker. It will be aired through Sky TV in the U.K. in the spring.
By Ryu Kwon-ha [email@example.com]
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