SPACE Magazine
SPACE Magazine
Letters from the Past (4)_ Park Kilyong

We Still Keep Asking You for Direction


Park Kilyong(honorary professor, Kookmin University)

Park Kilyong is an honorary professor in the School of Architecture at Kookmin University. He has also served as the Dean of College of Design, the Head of Environment Design Institute and the Dean of the School of Architecture at Kookmin University, as well as the Director of the Kookmin University Museum. He showed his wealth of critical thinking in the publication of his writings, The Critical Biography on the Modern Korean Architecture, The Architecture of the Second Modernity and has also co-written Consilient Mapping: Nine Probes for Architecture in Korea. He published Time Crossing, Turkish history in Architecture and Tropic of Capricorn, Travel to the Culture of Latin America with the viewpoint of cross-cultural dialogue. He won the Korean Institute of Architects Award in 1995, Seoul Architecture Awards of Research in 2008, and Korean Architecture Award- Architect of the Year in 2011.

'The Hereditary Nature of The Modern Korean Architecture' written by Park Kilyong「SPACE」400th issue

To. Korean architectural journalism


As observed during Korea 's modernist period, journalism in Korea suffered growing pains. It has been retarded due to ignorance, controlled by the state, incapable of self-sufficiency, short of content, and struggling with the marketplace. Why the 600th anniversary of SPACE is also known as SPACE has a special significance because of its role in the short history of Korean architectural journalism. When SPACE was launched in November 1966, Japan's monthly Architecture Culture published its 251st issue. That was the time gap with which Korea had to catch up.

   Beginning with magazines of institutions, all architectural journalism in Korea was published in a climate that was inarticulate and showed a developmental disability. Architect magazine of the Korean Institute of Architects was busy delivering news, but it had enough time considering it was published quarterly. Another Architect of the Korean Institute of Registered Architects was busy in advocating the rights of the group, and Architecture of Architectural Institute of Korea managed to fill its pages with research in construction and technology.

   Thus, the birth of SPACE in the middle of the nationalist period could be called a revolution in the history of Korean architecture. Journalism is important because it plays the role of examining architecture through language and culture. In the period of early modernism in Korea, stammering architecture was a problem but a magazine that failed to start the conversation would have been even more problematic. After the launch of SPACE, many architectural journals came into the world but had a hard time surviving, and they were encouraged by this ordeal.

   So, Kim SwooGeun's remarks at the anniversary of the 100th issue of SPACE, ‘I will keep this magazine even if I have to get mimeograph copies’ is still remembered as eternal enlightenment in Korean journalism. Of course, even though SPACE has suffered periods of exhaustion and had to fight various crises, it has survived until now because it was not just a matter of management. In other words, it is the destiny of the history of Korean architecture, or karma.

   There were many inconvenient moments. The presence of the architectural journal was blurred when the government threatened the press and the culture swung towards propaganda. Instead, an unofficial journal of the activist group squeezed in with a loud voice, and wrote a book with a nail. They used coarse language and edited in a crude way, but they must have had a lot of issues. Progressive architecture took a leftist viewpoint, and inserted the ethnic and folk art into the chasm of modernism.

   Decoration expanded the field of Korean architecture and the wings of Plus covered a variety of issues, but they are now part of history. Architecture & Culture now plays the role of an archive. Architecture & Environment, now known as C3, has created a luxury journal, and I was relieved when I found Ideal when worried about the concentration of architectural culture in Seoul. Ganhyang, POAR, WIDE Architecture Report were remarkable in their efforts to find young architects with various programmes besides their capability as a magazine. While Architecture & Society has provided an alternative for the magazine of institutes, and Architectural Critic seeks to make advanced journalism, I see them with worry and concern.

   Anyway, if you get out of breath, Korean architectural culture will be necrotic, and if your mind is disturbed, a bloody thing will happen. Some journals, which should lead the development of knowledge, used to waste their pages with narrow-minded criticisms.

   As this is a private letter, I would like to complain to myself now. What I have always done wrong in my writings published in SPACE has been to ‘to interpret architecture’. I tried to enlighten people, often with pedantic expressions and a shameful degree of knowledge. My writing was full of seasoning. Luckily, this situation was later improved by young architects and writers. A journal is not a mirror of Snow White's stepmother. I believe it is a space for thought, intelligence, narrative and lyricism.

   These days, I sense an unusual phenomenon when, out for a stroll, I meet various people. I can find a lot of former SPACE journalists around me. I often meet Lee Jooyeon and Jahn Jinsam in WIDE Architecture Report after Ganhyang; visit the Junglim Foundation Forum organised by Park Seongtae; with the help of Kim Sangho; carried out many projects of National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art with Jung Dayoung; published The Critical Biography on the Modern Korean Architecture with the help of Park Sungjin. I remember I started the ‘The Genes of Modern Architecture of Korea’ series in the 400th issue of SPACE. I also helped with the projects of Kim Hyukjoon, CEO of Pixel House and Shim Youngkyu, Head of Project Day, and Shim Misun also helped me find some architectural information.

   In other words, SPACE seems like a training school of social culture because it has conducted various tasks besides publication. Now I find architecture has a greater potential other than simply building a house. That proves that the meaning of architecture has extended.

   Just the production of architecture cannot make a culture. Some people string, weave, and vitalize them with words, and create the meaning of society, that is, culture. Architecture is wandering, asking for the way here and there. It is not that a journal can give the right answer, but can find a way when these social quandaries are contained in one place. Journalism can play the role of a basket.

   Although SPACE, now celebrating its 600th anniversary, has ceased to remain as a comprehensive art magazine, the listing in the professional journal A & HCI list shows another globalized growth state. In 2013, it had to overcome a heartbreaking family history, but this helped it to grow in terms of its intellectual aspects.

   I pray for the continued progress of SPACE.

   Sorry for my rambling writing.

tag.  Journalism
no.600 (2017.November) 
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