korea culture dc

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Legation of Korea in Washington D.C. reclaimed after 102 years

The Korean Government purchased a historical building in Washington D.C. that was formerly used as the Korean legation in the U.S. Korea retrieved ownership of the property 102 years after it was forcibly taken over by Imperial Japan in June 1910.


The building is the one and only legation of Korea that remains in its original form. This building, with three stories and one basement, has retained its Victorian-style architecture since it was constructed in 1877. It is a 10 minute drive northeast from the White House and located in the Logan Circle Historic District.


In 1891, Emperor Gojong, the 26th king of Chosun Dynasty (former Korea), purchased the property for $25,000. Being used as the legation in the U.S., this office served as a symbol of diplomatic efforts of former Korea to break free from increasing pressures by China, Russia, and Japan.


However, in June 1910, just two months before Korea was annexed by Imperial Japan, the building was also forcibly sold to Imperial Japan for only $5, which in turn was resold by Japan to an American for $10 in September, 1910. The property passed from one person to the next several times and was used as a private residence.


Due to its historical significance, the Korean Government and Korean-American community has exerted various efforts to recover this building from its private owner. For example, in 2003, the Korean-American community launched a fundraising event in light of the 100th anniversary of Korean immigration to the U.S. in an attempt to repurchase the legation building. In August 2012, a year marking the 130th anniversary of Korea-U.S. diplomatic relations, the Korean Government finally concluded purchase agreements.


In light of this historical achievement, Korea plans to use this opportunity to preserve Korean culture and heritage and strengthen relations between Koreans and Americans.