Posted by: rbbadger | September 9, 2009


As I mentioned before, Jeonju is the hometown of the Jeonju Yi (Lee) family, the royal family which governed Korea from 1392 until 1910.  Koreans often attach great important to their hometowns.  Along with the other family reunions, there are also sometimes clan reunions.  Members of the famous (or infamous depending on your take of Korean history) Andong Kim family have their roots in Andong, the Gyeongju Lee family have their roots in Gyeongju, and so forth.

Near the Pungnammun and across the street from Jeondong Cathedral is this magnificent Confucian shrine, built to house the portaits of King Taejo and other eminent Korean kings.  As a royal shrine, offerings were made to King Taejo, founder of the Joseon dynasty.  Portraits of other Korean monarchs were also enshrined as well.  However, since King Taejo was the founder of the dynasty, his portrait occupies the most important place.

Confucian academies and royal tombs often feature this spiky gate.  As you can see, the eum-yang (or yin-yang) symbol adorns the centre of the gate.

Gyeonggijeon Entrance

Traditional Korean buildings, especially royal palaces and Buddhist temples often feature dancheong, an ornamental sort of painting which adorns the part of the building under the eaves.  This sort of painting is now very expensive and some of the dancheong here have gotten to be a bit faded.  However, these are quite unusual.  If you click on the images, you can get a larger and more detailed view.

Gyeonggijeon Dancheong

As is customary with royal palaces and Buddhist temples, you often have to pass through a series of gates.

Gyeonggijeon Gate

Now at last we come to the sindo, or spirit path.  If you visit any of the old palaces in China or Korea, a tour guide might tell you that historically, the middle path was reserved for the king.  However, at Jongmyo, Seoul’s royal ancestral shrine, the king does not walk on the middle path.  Here, it is reserved for the spirits, in this case the spirits of the deceased kings of Korea, especially King Taejo.  They don’t want you to walk on it now, either.

Gyeonggijeon Spirit Path

Portraits of important kings of the Joseon dynasty are kept here.  Here is the portrait of King Sejong.  Like all of the royal portraits on the left and right of the main shrine building, it has a canopy similar to what would have been over the king’s throne in life.  It also rests on a platform not unlike the platform on which his throne rested.

King Sejong

Incense was often used at these events.  For processions, incense burning from a brazier was carried in procession. 

Incense Palaquin

There are also some royal umbrellas which were presumably carried in processions and the like.

Royal Umbrellas

Finally, we come to the portrait of King Taejo himself. 

King Taejo's Portrait

I had mentioned before about dancheong, the traditional Korean method of building adornment.  The homes of nobles and commoners were not permitted such adornment.  In fact, commoners weren’t allowed to have tile roofs at all.  That was reserved to the nobles and the king. 

Here we see a building where some of the officials who prepared for the memorial rties worked.  Note that it is plain white without any kind of external decoration.

Official's workplace



  1. i don’t think i’ll get over how intricate the details are on so many of these buildings you post! absolutely beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: