Remembering Yongsan Garrison: An Urban Memory Archive Project

Daniel S. Oh
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
10,000 won for non-members and 5,000 won for students (student ID checked at the door); free for members

In 2017, United States Forces Korea (USFK) officially began the process of returning Yongsan Garrison  to the Korean government. According to the current master plan, the Base is to be turned into one of the largest urban parks in Asia. In order to make room for trees and meadows, about 90% of the buildings on the Base will be removed. And the remaining buildings will be renovated into museums and recreational facilities. Official records  will help military historians write about YSG’s role in bringing peace to the region. But that’s only half of the story. For US servicemen and their families who served in Korea, YSG provided homes to families, schools for children, and recreational venues for friends and guests.

The social history of the Garrison’s occupants is on the verge of being lost forever. Before all the families and friends move out of YSG completely, we need to capture their lives and experiences on the Base. We need to record the stories and memories at the locations where they took place. These can be archived digitally for future generations. This digital database is the foundation for the Yongsan Legacy project: a “virtual monument” of Yongsan Garrison. Yongsan Legacy is an online platform. It will be also a cultural monument; the culture of all those who served in Yongsan Garrison will be appreciated by generations to come. Narratives of YSG will be captured and shared freely from the perspectives of the people who lived on the Base. Largely hidden from public view, its value is yet to be fully understood and explored by local citizens and the rest of Korea. That is  what the Yongsan Legacy project wants to discover and share.

Today’s lecture will summarize the project from the point of view of an urban designer, explaining the development of the project.

Daniel Oh is a Professor in the Department of Architecture of Korea University. He studied at UC Berkeley and Harvard and previously worked in Hong Kong, London and New York, before coming to Korea in 2010.


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