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Seoul cathedral building plan finally approved
By Stephen Hong, Seoul

ucanews (06/12), South Korea’s cultural heritage office has finally approved a project by Seoul archdiocese to redevelop Myeongdong Cathedral.

The Cultural Heritage Committee passed on Dec. 2 the resubmitted project plan after seeing that the revision was in line with the committee’s previous recommendation, a Catholic committee member told ucanews.com on Dec. 6.

Stephan Kim Jung-shin, professor of architecture at Dankook University, said the decision came after the archdiocese promised to preserve the historical authenticity of the cathedral and lower the height of one of the two new buildings.

The national committee of cultural experts in April postponed examination of the general redevelopment plan for Myeongdong Cathedral submitted in 2009 and asked the archdiocese to secure the cathedral’s historical legacy.

In November, it specifically asked the archdiocese to preserve the historicity of the ramp way and compound yard and lower the height of the new 13-story building in front of the cathedral.

Kim said that the compound is where major Church ministries are carried out. “All of us should be cautious about dealing with such an important cultural heritage,” he said.

He said it is unusual for the advisory body to reject the project twice and noted that the archdiocese should have consulted the Catholic cultural heritage experts for their opinion before submitting the plan.

The Korean Cultural Heritage Policy Research Institute, an NGO, said the project will damage the scenery and neighborhood with its “giant concrete fortress.”

The project, including two new buildings, a basement parking lot and a terraced wide ramp way to the cathedral, would cost 49.5 billion won (US$44 million) and take more than three years to complete.

The Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception, commonly known as Myeongdong Cathedral, is the Seoul archdiocesan cathedral. It is a city landmark and a symbol of Christianity and political dissidents in Korea
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