The iconic location, famed for being the former office of the Busan Mayor and a popular filming site for the hit drama “Reborn Rich,” will soon undergo extensive remodeling to transform into a vibrant, public cultural hub
BUSAN, South Korea – After six months of meticulous planning and architectural design, the city of Busan is finally set to commence remodeling work on the historic Open Event Hall, previously known as the former office of the Busan Mayor, in July. The projected completion by May 2024 will witness the landmark’s metamorphosis into a multipurpose cultural space open to the public.
This ambitious project, initiated in January this year, is part of the city’s commitment to creating integrated cultural spaces. For this renovation project, the city has chosen the acclaimed architectural firm, Won Won Architects, to carry out the delicate task of transforming the Open Event Hall. The area spans over an impressive 2,147.32㎡ indoors and a sprawling 18,015㎡ of outdoor space.
Throughout the planning process, the city government ensured the participation of relevant officials and experts from various fields. The aim was not just to ensure the structural safety and efficiency of the buildings but also to respond to criticisms about the location being overly authoritarian and closed-off. To this end, bold steps have been taken to dismantle the imposing steel gates and canopy, creating a more welcoming space for the public.
Notably, the project director, Choi Wook, emphasized a careful balance between preserving the historic and symbolic significance of the Open Event Hall and adding modern elements. According to Choi, they strived for a creative restoration that harmoniously integrates old structures with new facilities, adhering to UNESCO standards for preserving the cultural heritage.
The total project cost is an estimated 8.712 billion won, indicating the city’s commitment to this significant endeavor.
After its unveiling in May 2024, the remodeled Open Event Hall will house various facilities aimed at cultural exchange and public recreation. These will include a multipurpose space for international conferences, academic symposiums, and discussion forums. It will also provide business meeting spaces for local universities and enterprises, a terraced lecture hall for sharing knowledge and experiences with world-renowned speakers, and leisure spaces such as a café and outdoor garden intertwined with walking paths and forests for urban relaxation.
The city has also set its sights on positioning the renovated complex as a unique meeting venue by the end of this year, following the trend of using special locations (unique venues) for Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions (MICE) events.
The Open Event Hall, designed by the late architect Kim Chung-up, a master of modern Korean architecture, has a rich history. Initially built in 1985, it was used as the official residence of the Busan Mayor and later featured as a popular filming site for the hit drama series, “Reborn Rich.” This historic location, known as Jeongsimjae in the drama, has been featured prominently in the series, thus attracting attention as a new tourist destination. However, there were regrets about the venue’s lack of accessibility, as it was only open on weekdays and only external facilities were available for public viewing.
Mayor Park Hyeong-joon of Busan City expressed his commitment to the project, stating, “While preserving the historical value of the building, we have boldly reinterpreted and reorganized it to function as a cultural and relaxation space, a tourist attraction, and an innovative public office.” He further emphasized his intention to reflect the designers’ intentions faithfully and open the venue to the public as soon as possible.
To ensure smooth operation of the renovated Open Event Hall, the city will secure the necessary budget and personnel for its management from the second half of this year and will set up the necessary administrative structures. The first half of next year will be devoted to preparing for the opening, including the development of a suitable name, slogan, and brand image for the new space.
Incorporating the Open Event Hall’s historic legacy, architectural significance, and newfound fame as a drama filming site, this renovation project promises to reinvigorate the location and transform it into a dynamic hub for cultural exchange and public recreation in Busan.