Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A New Face for the Myeong Dong Cathedral?

An item in today's newspaper mentioned plans to develop the area around the Myeong Dong Catholic Cathedral in Seoul. The plans are for the construction of the underground parking and two
9-story aboveground buildings. The diocese has been thinking of this for many years. Cardinal Cheong has approved the plan for the construction, and the diocese hopes they can begin in October of this year.

At present, cars are permitted to approach the Church but future construction will make the area around the Cathedral a-no-car area. The two buildings will house the many offices that are now scattered here and there. The new plans for the Cathedral are an attempt to make the Cathedral grounds attractive and convenient for the many Catholics in the Diocese, including a plaza, common before churches in many parts of Europe. The Diocese plans to be ecologically sensitive with trees and other greenery out in front of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is considered a National Treasure and historical site, and has to receive approval for any construction by the Cultural Properties Administration. The administration was given information on the construction but has postponed any decision until they have time to visit and examine the reports that were submitted. They will have to determine whether there is a possibility of damage to the Cathedral from problems that come with the building of high rises.

Many see problems with the construction. The laws on building near National Treasures are complicated and there are those who feel that the view of the Cathedral will be sacrificed
and that building underground parking lots will demand the use of piles, which will possibly do damage to the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is a landmark in Seoul and a must-see for many visitors. So the City will be very much involved in the study of the feasibility of the planned construction. The Cathedral was,in the 1970s and 1980s, a focal point for the democracy movement in Korea and played an important role in social development and the expansion of human rights.Factors that the Diocese
will also value very highly, and will make sure that the wishes of the Cultural Properties Administration are followed.