|Location||04311 177-18, Hyochangwon-ro, Yongsan District, Seoul, South Korea|
|Area||12.33 ha (30.47 acres)|
|Etymology||"filial and prosperous"|
|Administered by||Government of Yongsan District|
|Connecting transport||Hyochang Park Station|
|Revised Romanization||Hyochang kongwon|
Hyochang Park[a] (Korean: 효창공원) is a park in Yongsan District, Seoul, South Korea. The park is near Exit 1 of the Hyochang Park station of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway. Popular for leisure and exercise, the park has walking paths, sports facilities, forests, and cherry blossom trees. In 1989, the park was designated a Historic Site of South Korea. In addition to the graves of Kim Ku, Lee Bong-chang, and Yun Bong-gil, it also contains the Kim Koo Museum.
The name of the area has changed several times over its history. The area was originally called "Hyochangmyo", and later "Hyochangwon" in 1870. It was first used in 1786 as the burial ground for Crown Prince Munhyo and his mother Royal Noble Consort Uibin Seong. During the early Japanese colonial period, it was called "Kuyongsan'goji". In 1921, the Japanese turned it into the first golf course in Korea, with the graves directly on the course. It was first designated a park in 1924. It received its current name in 1940, and the graves were subsequently moved out of the park. After the liberation of Korea, the remains of eight significant Korean independence activists were buried in the park. Since the 1940s, there has been a conflict over whether the park should be treated like a park or a memorial. The park currently functions as both, although the majority of people may mostly know the park as a leisure space.
The area of the park is 12.3307 hectares (30.47 acres). A large pine forest is present on the grounds. The park also has cherry blossom trees. In total, there are over 100,000 trees of at least 70 species in the park. A variety of swing benches are located in the park. In the park is a blue pillar that rises from a small lake. According to an article published by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the sculpture is supposed to symbolize the communication between people and the source of life: water. Also in the park is a statue of the Silla-era intellectual Wonhyo.
The park is an 8 to 10 minute walk from Exit 1 of Hyochang Park Station on the Seoul Subway Line 6 and the Gyeongui–Jungang Line. The park is surrounded by a dense urban environment. Also in the area are Hyochang Children's Park and the first stadium in South Korea: Hyochang Stadium. To its east is Sookmyung Women's University.
Memorials to the Korean independence movement
Eight prominent Korean independence activists are buried in the park. The graves of Lee Bong-chang, Yun Bong-gil, and Baek Jeong-gi are known as the Graves of the Three Martyrs (삼의사묘; 三義士墓). On the barrier wall beneath the graves is written the text "遺芳百世" (유방백세), which can be translated as "[They] paved a path of beauty for future generations". A temporary grave for An Jung-geun is also located right next to these three, but it lies empty as of 2021[update], as his remains have yet to be recovered.[b] Kim Ku is also buried in the park. In the vicinity of these graves are a number of Hibiscus syriacus plants (the national flower of South Korea) that are dedicated to each of these figures. The sign for Lee's indicates that Lee had played in the park in his youth. Yun's was planted at the same time (11:40 am) and on the anniversary of the 1932 Hongkou Park Incident that he participated in. Other activists are buried in the park too, including Yi Dong-nyeong, Cha Ri-seok, Cho Seong-hwan. Memorial services for these figures are held annually.
The Kim Koo Museum, which opened in October 2002, is located inside of the park. A statue of Lee Bong-chang stands in front of the museum. Also in the park is the hanok-style temple Uiyeolsa (의열사; 義烈祠), where seven independence activists are enshrined. In addition, the gate Changyeolmun (창열문; 彰烈門) is also at the park.
According to the Annals of King Jeongjo, Crown Prince Munhyo, the beloved four-year-old first son of King Jeongjo, was buried at the area during the Joseon period on 19 July 1786. Jeongjo wanted the location of the grave to be auspicious and close to the palace. He, some servants, and experts in feng shui searched for a suitable location. Jeongjo visited the eventual location of the tomb thrice, and finally decided that he was pleased with the sunny hill, forest, and view of the Han River at the site.
The area was then called "Hyochangmyo" (효창묘; 孝昌墓; lit. Hyochang Cemetery), where "Hyochang" means "filial and prosperous".[c] The Crown Prince's mother, Royal Noble Consort Uibin Seong, died five months later on 14 September, and was buried in a tomb close by. Royal Consort Sugui Park and Princess Yeongon were also buried in the same area. In 1870, King Gojong renamed the area to "Hyochangwon" (효창원; 孝昌園[d]). During the late Joseon and Korean Empire period, the surrounding area was called Aegirŭng (애기릉).
Japanese colonial period
During the Japanese colonial period, the name of the area was changed to Kuyongsan'goji (구용산고지; 舊龍山高地). At the time, it was the largest green space in Seoul. In 1915, the Yongsan Police held a ceremony for their new chief in the area.
In June 1921, the Japanese colonial government established the first golf course in Korea around the graves. Fences were erected around the tombs, which were directly in the line of play. It was a nine-hole golf course designed by a British person and operated by a nearby hotel. The last Crown Prince of Korea Yi Un played at the course, although a significant majority of the players were Japanese. The golf course was closed in 1924.
In June 1924 the area was made into a park, with a recorded size of 81,460 pyeong (0.2693 km2). In August, a road was paved in the park and the first public toilets were installed, which improved access for the general public. In 1925, a significant flood occurred in the surrounding region that led to the deaths of hundreds of people. In the aftermath of the flood, a temporary relief camp was made in the area.
In the late 1920s, Japanese residents of Seoul petitioned the colonial government and the government of Seoul into forcing the owners of the land, the Office of the Yi Dynasty, to surrender their ownership. In the end, the Office leased more than half of the land in the area for free.
On 12 March 1940, the colonial government gave the park its current name: "Hyochang Park". The tomb of the Royal Consort was moved to the Royal Tombs of the Joseon dynasty in Goyang, Gyeonggi. Her son's tomb was also moved in 1944, along with the majority of other tombs. After their relocation, the tombs of the Royal Consort and the Crown Prince were placed more than 100 paces from each other (2 km), which violated the wishes of King Jeongjo. In their place, a memorial to victims of wars of aggression was made. In an article for The Hankyoreh, Noh Hyeong-seok described the memorial as hypocritical, given Japan's wars to colonize Korea, and called the movement of the tombs "atrocities". However, a 2021 paper by Hyun-Chul Youn and Seong-Lyong Ryoo claimed that it is not known with certainty whether the Japanese were responsible for the moved graves, as relevant records from this period are lost.
Liberation and Korean independence movement memorials
Korea gained independence from Japan in 1945 at the end of World War II. Around that time, around 50,000 pyeong (0.17 km2) of the park was empty. Kim Ku, Kim Chang-sook, and other members of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea (KPG) had just returned from their exile in China, and were searching for adequate places to bury the remains of independence activists who died in exile. They decided on the park for the location. Hong So-yeon (홍소연), director of the Simsan Kim Chang-sook Memorial Hall, evaluated their motivation for the location as follows:[e]
The choice to use the area where Japan forcefully requisitioned and dominated Korean royal tombs as a memorial location for independence activists was highly symbolic. Of course they chose this spot.
On 9 July 1946, a national funeral was held for the reinterment of the remains of Lee Bong-chang, Baek Jeong-gi, and Yun Bong-gil in the park. In September 1948, the remains of Yi Dong-nyeong, Cha Ri-seok, and Cho Seong-hwan were buried in the park. Kim himself was buried in the park on 5 July 1949 after his assassination.
Attempted relocation of graves and change of park identity
The two Kims originally intended for the park to become a quiet sanctuary to honor the independence movement. Noh Hyeong-seok of The Hankyoreh speculated that the park might have eventually become a national cemetery if not for Kim Ku's assassination, the Korean War, and the tense relationship between Kim and the first president of South Korea, Syngman Rhee. Rhee had even placed police in the park to block mourners in the aftermath of Kim's death.
Noh alleged that, in 1956, Rhee conspired with the Seoul city government to move the graves of the independence activists elsewhere, and construct a stadium and circuit roadway in the area instead. The government provided the pretense of the activists' graves being disrespected by children playing in the area. This was met with pushback from living independence activists and related people. Kim Chang-sook laid down in front of a bulldozer to prevent the removal of the graves. He composed a poem that was then published in The Dong-A Ilbo entitled "Weeping Over Hyochang Park" (효창공원을 통곡함).
The relocation was eventually blocked by a unanimous resolution from the National Assembly. The resolution was introduced by Kim Du-han, the son of independence activist Kim Chwa-chin. Despite the relocation being blocked, the Rhee administration still pushed to construct a stadium. After Seoul was selected to host the 1970 Asian Games in June 1959, the estate of Kim Ku allowed for the stadium and roadway to be constructed nearby without the relocation of the graves. The stadium is now Hyochang Stadium.
The Park Chung Hee administration took similar steps to move the identity of the park away from that of a cemetery or memorial park for the independence movement. A golf course was again constructed, this time in a valley. On either side of the valley were the graves of independence activists. Sports facilities, food and drink stands, and the community center for the elderly were constructed. A monument for anti-communists who fought against North Korea (북한 반공투사 위령탑) was also constructed in 1969, and still stands today. The Wonhyo statue was installed in 1969 as well. Park also installed a statue of his wife, Yuk Young-soo, who was killed in 1974. However, he did install a statue of Kim Ku in addition to this.
The Hyochang Park Martyr Memorial Society (효창공원 순국선열추모위원회) was established on 10 March 1978. Beginning in that year, the organization has held an annual memorial ceremony for independence activists on 13 April, the anniversary of the establishment of the KPG.
Beginning with the Chun Doo-hwan administration in the 1980s, the identity of the park was moved back towards that of a cemetery and historical site. The temple Uiyeolsa and gate Changyeolmun were constructed in November 1988. On 8 June 1989, the park was designated Historic Site of South Korea No. 330.
In 2002, the Kim Koo Museum was constructed in place of a tennis court during the Kim Dae-jung administration. However, its construction was met with some pushback due to the opposition of sports-related organizations. In 2005, President Roh Moo-hyun announced a plan to demolish the stadium and make the park more of a memorial park, but the plans faced too much pushback and stalled.
According to Noh Hyeong-seok, the park's identity (and even public awareness of the graves in the park) has continued to be uncertain. The majority of people currently seem to view the park as a space for leisure. In 2018, The Hankyoreh interviewed the leader of an organization called "People Who Love Hyochangwon" (효창원을 사랑하는 사람들) that advocates for greater emphasis on its memorial function.
On 9 February 2015, President Moon Jae-in advocated for more of a memorial identity for the park. On 15 August 2017, Moon participated in a memorial ceremony dedicated to the KPG at the park. In 2018, it was reported that the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs was considering a plan to demolish the stadium. In 2019, the park was set to be reorganized and renewed as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the KPG. As part of the plan, they controversially sought to move Uiyeolsa to a different location in the park. As the park is a protected historical site, they conducted written interviews with experts in history, architecture, and feng shui between October and December 2020. A majority of the experts rejected the move. The overall plan is set to be finished by 2024.
- Also "Hyochang Neighborhood Park" (효창근린공원) or "Seoul Hyochang Park".
- This is in spite of a number of both private and government efforts to locate his remains, including a rare joint North-South Korean effort in 2006.
- "효성스럽고 번성하다"
- Won (원; 園) is a term that refers to the tombs of royal family members who were not monarchs.
- "일제가 왕실 묘역을 침탈하고 강점했던 곳에 독립운동가들의 유택을 마련한다는 상징성이 컸기 때문에 당연히 이곳을 골랐을 것으로 보인다"
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