Seoul’s power lunch spot is back. After five months of renovation, the Westin Chosun Hotel is fully operational again. The hotel is one of the oldest, opened in 1914, and most storied in the city. It was the first western-style hotel in the country, was home to the United Nations Command during the Korean War and unofficial international news center of the country for decades.
During the democracy uprisings of the 1980s, international reporters gathered there to write stories of the protests that start were happening just a few blocks away. Up until 2006, one news organization – the Los Angeles Times – kept its Seoul bureau in the hotel. The Chosun, as the hotel is known, took the wraps off its new lobby and restaurants on Thursday and formally opened them with a ceremony Friday afternoon.
The renovation has meant that the hotel’s premier restaurant, The Ninth Gate, was closed for the past few months, upsetting business routines across the city. It has been refashioned as an open-kitchen brasserie that’s a bit smaller than the old version. A bar area that was rarely used has been turned into a stand-alone café. But it’s still got a view to the hotel’s private park with a Korean monument called Hwangudan, or Temple of Heaven, that was built in 1897. And there are several private dining rooms where, judging by the number of government officials and business executives regularly seen there, the nation’s business happens.