Journalist Albert Taylor's Seoul abode restored, will open to public
“The restoration of Dilkusha goes beyond a simple restoration of a house, it represents the restoration of the spirit of independence among the Korean people against the occupation by Japan at the time,” said Seo Jung-hyup, the acting mayor of Seoul in a statement on Friday. “It will be used as a place to teach living history and hope, especially in light of the commemoration of the March First Independence Movement of Korea.”
Dilkusha, a two-storied red-brick home in Jongno District, central Seoul, is where Taylor and his family lived from 1923 to 1942, before they were expelled from Korea by Japanese authorities during World War II.
But he ended up stumbling on bigger news.
He obtained an advance copy of the declaration of independence on Feb. 28, 1919, at Severance Hospital, while his wife Mary was there giving birth to their son, Bruce. According to memoirs by Mary, several copies of the declaration were found in her bed. The Taylors didn’t know it at the time, but a group of Korean independence fighters were printing the declaration in the basement of the hospital. Taylor smuggled a copy of the declaration out of Korea through his brother, Bill Taylor, avoiding the eyes of Japanese authorities.
On March 1, 1919, thousands of people in Seoul flocked to the streets to proclaim Korea’s independence from Japan’s colonial rule (1910-1945), marking the beginning of a series of movements that spread throughout the country. An estimate of at least 1 million Koreans are said to have participated in nearly 1,800 demonstrations from March to May of 1919, according to National Institute of Korean History.
The movement broke in the media across the United States within March 1919, including in The New York Times. In addition to reporting on the movement, Taylor had also reported on the court trials of 33 independence fighters who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Cheam-ri massacres in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi.
But after the Taylors were expelled from Korea by 1942, their red-bricked abode was forgotten about until 2005, when Bruce Taylor, with the help of a professor in Korea, rediscovered the home.
After the Taylors left Korea, the house fell into the hands of several owners, the last being Cho Kyung-kyu, a former representative of now-defunct Liberal Party. He owned the house until 1963, but lost it after being charged with amassing illicit wealth.
The living rooms on both floors of the two-story house have been restored to look as they did when the Taylors lived in it, based on photos from the time donated by Albert and Mary's granddaughter Jennifer Linley Taylor. Hundreds of the Taylor's belongings, also donated by Jennifer Linley Taylor, will also be on display.
The rooms on both floors will showcase details on Taylor’s reporting work in Korea and the restoration process of the house.
Dilkusha will be open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday, but only to those who make reservations. It will open Monday because March 1 is a national holiday commemorating the independence movement in Korea. Reservations can be made online at yeyak.seoul.go.kr or by calling the Seoul Museum of History at 070-4126-8853.
Due to Covid-19, tours will be limited to 20 people at a time. Tours in English or Chinese can be arranged by calling the Seoul Museum of History, at least a few days in advance of the visit, according to the museum.
Reservations are not need on the opening day.