Royal Palaces

Gyeongbokgung Palace



Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first royal palace built by the Joseon Dynasty, three years after the Joseon Dynasty was founded. Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace was located at the heart of newly appointed capital of Seoul (then known as Hanyang) and represented the sovereignty of the Joseon Dynasty. The largest of the Five Grand Palaces (the others being Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace), Gyeongbokgung served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty.

The Turbulent History of Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace continued to serve as the main palace until the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592 – 1598), when all of the palaces were severely damaged. It was not until about 1868 that the palace was reconstructed and expanded to a 410,000 square meter complex with over 500 buildings. Gyeongbokgung Palace flourished for several decades in this state until the Japanese once again demolished the palaces during their occupation of Korea (1910-1945). Most of the restored buildings were torn down, Gwanghwamun Gate was relocated and the Japanese General Government Building was constructed in front of the main area of the palace.

An effort by the Korean government has been ongoing since 1990 to rebuild and restore the buildings that were destroyed during the Japanese occupation. This 40-year restoration project aims to fully restore Gyeongbokgung Palace to its original form in the next twenty years. Currently, the palace is open to the public and houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea. Although only about forty percent of the buildings have been restored, there are still many beautiful things to see at the palace. Some of the palace highlights have been noted below.

Geunjeongjeon (Imperial Throne Hall)

Geunjeongjeon is the throne hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace where the king was formally briefed by his officials, issued proclamations, and greeted foreign envoys and ambassadors. It was also the central venue for various coronation ceremonies of the royal household.
  • Geunjeongjeon

  • Geunjeongjeon interior
    Geunjeongjeon interior

Gyeonghoeru (Pavilion)

  • Gyeonghoeru is located next to Geunjeongjeon. Its architecture is so highly prized for its aesthetic qualities that it once appeared on the Korean 10,000 won banknote. The pavilion is situated on an artificial island in the middle of a rectangular lake with three stone bridges stretching out to the palace grounds, an arrangement which illustrates the way in which traditional Korean architectural style blends simplicity and splendor.

  • Hyangwonjeong 1

Hyangwonjeong (Pavilion)

  • Hyangwonjeong 2

  • Hyangwonjeong is located to the north of the palace site. This hexagonal pavilion was constructed by order of King Gojong on an artificial island in a lake and was connected to the palace grounds by a bridge. Hyangwonjeong means 'Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance' while it's associated bridge, named Chwihyanggyo, translates as 'Bridge Mesmerized with Fragrance'. If Gyeonghoeru was the King's place for a formal national banquet, Hyangwonjeong was his informal and private place for rest and leisure.

Geoncheonggung (Palace)

Geoncheonggung (Palace) was once the royal residence of Emperor Gojong (the 26th king of the Joseon Dynasty) and his wife, Empress Myeongseong, located within Gyeongbokgung complex. It was reopened to the public on August 15th, 2010 by the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea as part of a project to restore the five grand palaces. On the Geoncheonggung site stands Jangandang (Hall), Emperor Gojong's quarters and Gonnyeonghap (Hall), the quarters of Empress Myeongseong. The royal residence was a place of innovation, with the first electric lights in Korea being installed here in 1887, but it is also a tragic place, where Empress Myeongseong was brutally murdered by Japanese agents. Inside the palace visitors can see some of the royal family's personal possessions.

  • Geoncheonggung 1
    Geoncheonggung (Palace)

  • Geoncheonggung 2
    Geoncheonggung (Palace)

Gwanghwamun (Gate)

  • Gwanghwamun

  • Gwanghwamun is the main gate of Gyeongbokgung (Palace) and is located to the south of the palace. Gwanghwamun is comprised of three arched gates called Hongyemun with the middle gate reserved for the king and the other two for his officials. Gwanghwamun was severely damaged during the Japanese occupation and the Korean War. Even the location of the gate had been changed from where it originally stood. It was restored to its original site and reopened to the public on August 15th, 2010.

Heungnyemun (Gate)

Heungnyemun is the second largest gate of Gyeongbokgung and the first gate that visitors see after Gwanghwamun (Gate). The gate was totally demolished during the Japanese occupation when the Japanese government constructed a building for the Japanese Governor General of Korea. The gate was restored to its original form in 1995.
  • Heungnyemun 1
    Heungryemun (Gate)
  • Heungnyemun 2
    Heungryemun (Gate)

The Changing of the Royal Guard

  • The Changing of the Royal Guard

  • The reenactment of the Changing of the Royal Guard and the Patrol Ritual are performed every day between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in front of Heungnyemun (Gate). The guardsmen perform several ceremonies including the opening and closing the royal palace gate and the changing of the guard. The reenactment is followed by the Patrol Ritual in front of Heungnyemun, allowing plenty time for photographers to capture the event.

    **The National Folk Museum of Korea and the National Palace Museum are also located on the palace grounds. Visitors can learn about traditional Korean culture and learn more about the life of the royal family of the Joseon Dynasty.

  • Heungnyemun
    Heungnyemun (Gate)

  • Geunjeongjeon
    Geunjeongjeon (Hall)

  • Mangyeongjeon
    Mangyeongjeon (Hall)

  • Geunjeongjeon Haenggak
    Geunjeongjeon Haenggak (Cloister)

  • Jangandang inside Geoncheonggung and Chusubuyongru
    Jangandang (Hall) inside Geoncheonggung (Palace) and Chusubuyongru (Pavilion)

  • The National Folk Museum of Korea
    The National Folk Museum of Korea

  • Hyangwonjeong
    Hyangwonjeong (Pavilion)

  • Gyeonghoeru
    Gyeonghoeru (Pavilion)

  • Gyeonghoeru
    Gyeonghoeru (Pavilion)

  • The National Palace Museum of Korea
    The National Palace Museum of Korea

MBC Drama < Moon Embracing the Sun >

  • Original run: January 4, 2012 ~ March 15, 2012
  • Summary: A love story between a fictional king of the Joseon Dynasty(played by Kim Soo-hyun) and a female shaman(played by Han Ga-in).
  • Scene: King Lee Hwon(played by Kim Soo-hyun) has a friendly conversation with his courtier.
  • Hallyu topic: Runner-up in the 18th Shanghai TV Festival's International TV Series Awards. Aired in 7 countries.
  • Actor Kim Soo-hyun reaches Hallyu stardom through his roles in < GIANT >and < Dream High 1 >.
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[2010-10-08 17:41 Input / 2014-12-03 14:15 Modify]