The birthplace of Chocopie, the site of a vibrant art scene and a US military base. While we were walking through Samgakji on a tour, it never occurred to us that Samgakji was all these things. Daniel Oh, the founder of Yongsan Legacy Project, explained that there used to be a huge rotary above the three-way junction, but it had been taken down in 1994, with nothing left today save the pictures and stories archived by Yongsan Legacy Project. The rotary that once serviced traffic from Itaewon, Seoul Station and the Han River is now all but forgotten, along with all the other pieces of Samgakji.
We are a team of seven students from Minerva Schools at KGI, which is a university that focuses on building practical skills and cross-cultural learning. We were fascinated by the rich history of the area held especially since Seoul is our second city on our seven city global rotation and decided to join Daniel to create a way to bring the stories of Samgakji to the younger generation.
We developed a choose-your-adventure game based off the history of Samgakji with the help of Heng Yan and Chae Rin, students from Korea University Architecture Department. The game features characters, buildings and culture related to Samgakji and is in both English and Korean. For example, in the game there is an interactive 3D map featuring Samgakji as it looked like in previous decades. During the height of Samgakji’s popularity, it featured much more colour and vibrancy in its art scene and presence of the US American military. Juxtaposed with how the area looks like today, players will be able to feel the shift. The game also includes character cards of prominent people from Samgakji like the acclaimed artist Park Su-geun to provide better insights into the culture and lifestyle of the area.
The game is essentially a history lesson, but the details are conveyed subtly that it doesn’t feel like learning. Players start off as a girl who is trying to find her way after waking up in a strange place. So as players try to find their way out, these details which are important to exploring the eight different endings with a mixture of audio and visual clues, players learn about Samgakji.
We’ve consolidated the information from the archives of Yongsan Legacy Project to bring this game to life. Furthermore, near Korea University, we also opened up a pop-up event, exhibition style, with a photo booth and posters about Samgakji’s significance, to get students interested in knowing Samgakji. In the pop-up event, we utilized features of different forms of medium to help audiences see the connection between the past and the current Samgakji area. In the photo section, we selected old pictures of the Samgakji area from published books and museums and tried to take pictures of the same physical locations. We contrasted the two pictures and helped audiences see the change of the area. In the infographic section, we explained how do Orion Choco Pie and other daily objects are related to Samgakji. In the interactive installation, we asked audiences to draw a portrait of their friend on the transparent glass frame and experience the life of being an artist in Samgakji.
It was a privilege to work with Yongsan Legacy Project. We hope that you try out the game and learn something new. You never know how history may surprise you.
By Li-lian Ang
Play the web-based game by clicking on the following link: http://samgakjistories.yongsanlegacy.org/