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Buildings show signs of the times

September 24, 1993



The Opinion page article ``Korea's Blue House: A Sign of New Times,'' Sept. 10, was excellent, but the author's references to Seoul's ``neo-Greek'' National Museum and to the Blue House presidential compound failed to note a major change in each.

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In August, the Kim Young Sam administration resolved a bitter controversy when it announced plans to dismantle the National Museum building and the blue-tile roofed building used as the presidential residence from Syngman Rhee in 1948 through Roh Tae Woo in 1990. The controversy stemmed from the museum's history as the administrative center of the Japanese colonial government and the Blue House's former role as the residence of the Japanese governors- general.

Both buildings and their prominent use by the government long have been an affront to Korean nationalism. Hence, the author also should have noted that South Korea's recent reforms are asserting Korean identity by injecting a healthy dose of symbolic distance from the Japanese colonial era. Edward A. Olsen, Monterey, Calif. Professor of Asian Studies Naval Postgraduate School

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