Gyeongbok Palace (Gyeongbokgung)

Gyeongbok Palace (Gyeongbokgung) is a palace located in northern Seoul, South Korea. It was the main and largest palace of the Joseon Dynasty and one of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty.

The palace was originally constructed in 1394 by King Taejo and "Gyeongbokgung" was named by minister Jeong Do-jeon. Gyeongbokgung was continuously expanded during the reign of King Taejong and King Sejong the Great, but part of the palace was burnt down during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592-1598).

During the regency of Daewon-gun in 1867, the buildings were reconstructed and formed a massive 330-building complex with 5,792 rooms. Standing on 4,414,000 square feet (410,000 square meters) of land, it was a symbol of majesty for the Korean people and the home of the royal family. In 1895, after the assassination of Empress Myeongseong by Japanese agents, her husband, Emperor Gojong left the palace and the imperial family would never return.

In 1911, the government of Japan demolished all but 10 buildings during the period of Japanese occupation, constructing the Japanese General Government Building for the Governor-General of Korea in front of the throne hall. Oddly, the Japanese took many pictures of poverty in Korea, but did not take a single photo of this historic site.

At the end of the Second World War, major buildings on the site included Geunjeongjeon, the Imperial throne room (national treasure number 223), and Gyeonghoeru Pavilion (national treasure number 224), which stands in an artificial lotus lake, resting on 48 granite pillars. The pavilion is depicted on the 10,000 won Korean banknotes.

Today the palace is open to the public, and houses the National Folk Museum of Korea. The National Museum of Korea was there too, until it was relocated to Yongsan-gu in 2005.

Many Koreans still hope to reconstruct part of the original palace. Archeological work has brought 330 building foundations to light. However, the original magnificence of the palace may never be fully restored. Fortunately, the main gate to the palace, called Gwanghwamun, is now being restored to its original state, to be completed in 2009.

© 2006 Elite Storm     All Rights Reserved