Korea's former '$5' embassy to reopen as museum in Washington

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  May 15, 2018 at 2:19 PM
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May 15 (UPI) -- A historical building in Washington, D.C., that belonged to Korea but was seized by Imperial Japan for a mere $5 will reopen as a museum to the public next Tuesday.

The former Korean legation building in Logan Circle opened in February 1889 but was shuttered in November 1905 following the signing of the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1905.

The agreement forced Korea to relinquish its sovereignty and become a protectorate of Japan.

South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo reported Tuesday the three-story Victorian building has been restored following South Korea's acquisition of the building six years ago.

The project to repurchase the building began in 2003, a year marking the centennial of Korean immigration to the United States.

The movement culminated in the October 2012 purchase of the building for $3.5 million from its previous owner, according to South Korea's Munhwa Ilbo.

Seoul's Cultural Heritage Administration conducted extensive research into historical archives to restore the house to its Victorian-era past.

Desks, chairs, carpeting and wallpaper were chosen to reflect the building's heritage, Seoul said.

An exhibit of photographs at the new museum shows pre-colonial Korea's diplomatic activities in the United States, including those of Minister Park Jeong-yang, who also served as a Korean diplomat to Tsarist Russia.

The mission was shut down in 1905 after the treaty was signed and sold to the Japanese for $5.

Japan then sold the building to an American buyer for $10, according to the Segye Ilbo.

Korea purchased the building for $25,000 in 1889.

The opening ceremony for the museum on next Tuesday coincides with South Korean President Moon Jae-in's visit to Washington.

Moon might visit the ceremony, according to reports.

Korea became a Japanese colony in 1910 and nine years later Korean independence activists staged massive protests against colonial rule.

The March 1 Movement will mark its centennial next year.

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