The Doneui-dong/Nakwon-dong area of Jongno, where the Choonwondang Oriental Clinic & Museum is located, is twisted, complicated, and narrow, a ‘bowel’ in the city of Seoul. The streets are too confined for construction vehicles to pass through; shabby love hotels are everywhere; cheap eateries sell cold noodles for just under 4 US dollars; the area still evokes its own past, a once infamous red-light district called Jongsam. As you enter the area, the clock seems to run back twenty or thirty years. An ideal location for a Seoul film noir, one may think. Here history runs deep. To the east are the walls of the Jongmyo Shrine, to the west is the Pagoda Park. Flanked by Donhwamun-ro, this is one of the oldest areas in Seoul. The Choonwondang Clinic has been located here since 1953, founded right after the Korea War. Originally established in 1847 in Bakcheon, North Korea, and handed down through seven generations, the clinic regards itself as a committed guardian of Seoul’s historic center. The client stated that despite the area’s deterioration the clinic was to remain, and that the new building was to represent new visions for the area’s future. An idea for an open and transparent building was thus conceived.
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