2016 World Monuments Watch
Simwonjeong is a surviving example of a Korean won-lim, or forest-garden, which were built as environments for study and communion with nature. Although there are several won-lim in Korea, Simwonjeong is the only remaining in the Gyeongsang province. The ideal of the forest-garden was developed by Confucian scholars of the Joseon kingdom (1392-1897), during which Confucian thought became a pillar of Korean society and culture. Simwonjeong was built under the direction of a Confucian scholar named Cho Byeong-Seon in 1937. The site consists of a traditional hanok pavilion surrounded by gardens and a forest area. During construction, Cho Byeong-Seon penned 25 poems and had them inscribed at various locations throughout the site, either inside the pavilion or carved on garden rocks. The poems reflect Cho Byeong-Seon’s vision for the garden to serve as a place of respite for intellectuals, government officials, and scholars during a period of rapid social, political, and economic changes in the nation.
In 1995, the Simwonjeong Pavilion was converted into a restaurant. After the restaurant failed, the site fell out of use. Currently, rising land values are threatening this heritage site, which is not legally protected from further alterations or demolition. The National Trust of Korea has offered to take over the site from Cho Byeong-Seon’s descendants and to begin the process of reversing the alterations that it has undergone. The 2016 World Monuments Watch supports the collaboration of local stakeholders to secure designation for Simwonjeong by increasing awareness of the site as a marker of Korean national heritage.
Since the Watch
On October 17, 2015, two days after the announcement of the 2016 World Monuments Watch, the Simwonjeong Pavilion was donated to the National Trust of Korea. During a ceremony, the National Trust of Korea pledged to make every effort to ensure the protection of the site. October 2015