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Korea’s 19th Century Legation Re-Opens with Launch of Logan Circle Heritage Trail

(Washington – July 11, 2013): On Saturday, July 13, 2013, Cultural Tourism DC, the Logan Circle Heritage Trail Working Group and the Logan Circle Community Association will officially unveil DC’s newest walking trail, A Fitting Tribute: Logan Circle Heritage Trail. Korea’s first legation building in the United States is included on the trail.


The event will begin at 3 p.m. with remarks and the ceremonial unveiling of the sign in Logan Circle Park and near Logan Circle, followed by a mini-tour and one-day open house of historic buildings in Logan Circle.

Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-young will offer remarks commemorating the friendship and ties between the Republic of Korea and the United States. Washington DC Councilmember Jack Evans and Logan Circle Community Association President Tim Christensen will offer statements as well. Derrick Ward of NBC 4 will be the ceremony emcee.


The unveiling ceremony will showcase the trail’s 7th sign, which includes the history of the Korean Legation building as a key highlight of the trail. The ceremony has special symbolic meaning because the 7th sign was chosen from among 15 that comprise the Logan Circle Heritage Trail.


The legation building at 15 Logan Circle was purchased for $25,000 in 1889 by King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty, which was Korea's last royal dynasty. It served as the Korean Legation for 16 years until Korea’s diplomatic independence was lost to Imperial Japan in 1905. When Japan annexed Korea by force five years later, the building was forcibly sold to Japan for only $5 and then sold to a third party. For over a century since, the building has had various American owners. In 2012, the Korean government successfully re-claimed its old legation when it purchased the building from private ownership.


Appendix to the Press Release

Twin Legations in Washington and Seoul 


The Korean Legation in Washington and the American Legation in Seoul in the 19th century are twins in many aspects.


Both buildings are the symbolic cradles of Korea-US friendship. The Korean Legation in Washington is one of Korea's oldest diplomatic missions, and the American Legation in Seoul is the oldest among existing U.S. overseas missions. In the early days of diplomacy, both countries endeavored to construct a strong, enduring bridge between their nations.


The Korean Legation is an architecturally stunning Victorian house. It was built and owned by Seth Ledyard Phelps, an American Civil War hero, statesman, and diplomat. The counterpart American Legation is a traditional Korean-style house known as Hanok. It was previously owned by Min Young Ik, a renowned scholar and high-ranking government officer during the Joseon Dynasty. 


The Korean Legation sits in the heart of the Logan Circle Historic District in Washington, D.C., and The American Legation, located in the center of the Korean capital of Seoul, is a designated Historic Heritage site. As such, the city government of Seoul maintains the building.


Both legations were opened in the late 19th century. When Japan deprived Korea of its sovereignty in 1910, both Korea and America lost their legations in the respective cities. Their missions were resumed soon after Japan surrendered at the end of World War II in 1945.


Today, Korea and the United States enjoy exceptionally close ties through the Korea-US Alliance as well as broad people-to-people connections and an abiding national friendship. Their two historic legations in Seoul and Washington are twin symbols of this longstanding relationship.