Daejeon Pointy Roof House by Robert Koehler
Another historic property to meet with the wrecking ball is the so-called Pointy Roof House in Daeheong-dong, Daejeon, which I visited in March of last year. Built in 1929 as a residence for the head of the colonial railway authority, the distinctive house mixes Japanese and Western elements, and was registered as a cultural property. Sitting in the middle of a redevelopment zone, the property had been the source of friction for some time. In early October, the local redevelopment association acquired the house from the owner and began dismantling it with out submitting to Daejeon completed plans rebuild the structure elsewhere, as had been agreed upon with the city. The city didn’t learn what was going on until all that was left of the house was the frame. It ordered an end to the destruction, but the damage was done. The redevelopment association says that since they’ll move the house elsewhere, there’s no problem with what’s been done, but local preservation groups now doubt whether they’ll be able to restore the house to its original condition.
The matter has led to a ton of bad press in Daejeon, where in recent years a number of historical properties have been torn down, much to the chagrin of local cultural and preservation groups. The Kyunghyang Shinmun reports that according to the city’s own statistics, of the 886 historic buildings built between Korea’s opening in the late 19th century and the 1960s, only 176 remain.