Posted by: rbbadger | May 6, 2009

景福宮

I decided to visit Gyeongbok Palace again.  After all, it is has been a very long time since I’ve been there.   This palace used to be the main palace used by the Joseon monarchs.  In the sixteenth century, it was burnt to the ground by angry citizens of Seoul.  The king and his court fled the invading Japanese.  The people, upset that their leadership had abandoned them, burnt it to the ground.  In the 19th century, Heungseon Daewongun, regent of Korea and father to Emperor Gojong decided to restore it.  Restoration of the palace took up much of the state budget at the time.  During the Japanese occupation, portions of the palace were destroyed and restoration is still ongoing.  Unlike Western palaces, such as Buckingham Palace or Schloss Schoenbrunn in Vienna, Chinese and Korean palaces are collections of smaller buildings.  However, it is fitting that the finest piece of Joseon architecture is the throne hall.

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This small hall is a very important place in Korean history.  It was here that King Sejong worked on the Korean alphabet.

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A distance away from main part of the palace, there is the exquisitely beautiful pavilion on a small pond.  After becoming president of Korea, Rhee Syngman used to love to come and fish in the ponds in the palace.  A small pavilion was built in traditional style for his use.  The Cheong Wa Dae is very close to Gyeongbok Palace.  Until recently, you could see it very clearly.

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There are five palaces in Seoul and one royal ancestral shrine.  While this palace is perhaps the most impressive in some ways, especially with the throne hall, it is not listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.  Changdeok Palace, which is nearby, is a UNESCO world heritage site.  However, Changdeok Palace has some things that Gyeongbok Palace doesn’t.  In the throne hall, there are electric chandeliers, as Changdeok Palace possessed one of the first electric generators in the country.  Also, royal limousines from the early 20th century are housed there.  One of the halls has western carpeting and western furniture.  However, Changdeok Palace survived better than any other Korean palace and is the oldest in terms of original buildings still in place.  So it is the one that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This collection of buildings, located in the very far eastern side of the palace complex was where King Gojong and Queen Myeongseong once lived. 

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Responses

  1. It looks like you had a very interesting weekend site seeing! I love the lanterns! Very pretty! Thanks for sharing!


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