South Korea is putting final touches on an old train station to transform it into a landmark art space, the latest in a series of projects to convert historical buildings into cultural complexes.
The two-story station, which was constructed by the Japanese and survived the 1950-53 Korean War, had been closed since 2004 when Seoul built a new high-speed railway station next to it.
The Renaissance-style building, a painful reminder of Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, is scheduled to be reborn as a cultural hot spot on Aug. 9 after two years of extensive restoration, the culture ministry said on Thursday.
"The Seoul Station will keep much of its original shape and looks while reflecting joys and sorrows of the people for the past decades, though it will assume a new role as a cultural space," Kim Young-san, a culture ministry official, told reporters during a press tour of the station.
The move follows in the footsteps of Paris where a railway station near a river was turned into the Musee d'Orsay.
In 1995, South Korea demolished the colonial headquarters built by Japan near Gyeongbok Palace as part of a restoration project for the royal palace in a symbolic gesture to come to terms with the 1910-45 colonial rule.
Seoul has since transformed other landmark structures built by Japan into museums.
South Korea has recently embarked on a project to turn the Defense Security Command building, also built by the Japanese, near the royal palace into a National Museum of Contemporary Art.
South Korea plans to hold some 60 cultural events, including exhibitions and performances, from Aug. 11 to next February to celebrate the restoration of the Seoul railway station, the culture ministry said.