Gyeongbokgung: main royal palace to Korea‘s last dynasty
By Chung Min-uck
In the heart of Seoul lies the main royal palace of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) Gyeongbok, which literally means a dynasty that will be “greatly blessed and prosperous.” Construction of the palace began three years after the kingdom was founded, entrenching Confucian ideals of cultivating virtue and maintaining ethics in society.
Joseon was the last kingdom of Korean history and the longest-ruling Confucian state in the world.
Gyeongbok Palace is located in central Seoul with Mt. Bugak to its rear and Mt. Nam in the foreground. The location was deemed auspicious according to the traditional practice of geomancy.
Gwanghwamun is the main entrance to the palace.
In front of the gate formerly ran Yukjo-geori (street of six ministries) which today is Gwanghwamun Square, a representative plaza in Seoul that can accommodate up to 70,000 people.
Following the central axis upon which the Gwanghwamun Gate stood was the nucleus of the palace including Geunjeongjeon, the main throne hall, and Gangnyeongjeon, the king’s residence.
Geunjeongjeon is Korea’s largest surviving wooden structure where kings conducted state affairs and held official functions.
In Gangnyeongjeon, kings spent time reading books and attending private state affairs with his entourage. Each room at both sides of the building is divided into nine sections. Court ladies stayed at night in those rooms surrounding the center room which was exclusively used by the king.
Next to Gangnyeongjeon is Gyeonghoeru, a pavilion surrounded by a pond, where kings held formal banquets for foreign envoys. Going up the two-story pavilion, kings enjoyed a sweeping view of the palace.
The main structures of Gyeongbok-gung together with the government ministry district formed the heart of the capital city and represented the sovereignty of the Joseon Kingdom.
Gyeongbok Palace is considered one of the most prestigious cultural properties in Korea with its location easily accessible. It is ideal for taking a stroll or enjoying a lunch break.
The palace currently provides brief introductory explanations about the function and history of each structure in Korean, English and other languages.
The National Folk Museum is located in the northeastern section of the palace. The museum has several exhibition halls showing a wide selection of Korean culture and history.
Traditional Korean music concerts will be held at the palace from Wednesday to Friday at 8 p.m. to celebrate Seoul’s hosting of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit. The palace is closed on Tuesdays.
Admission fee for Gyeongbok-gung is 3,000 won for adults, 2,400 won for children. For further information, visit http://www.royalpalace.go.kr/html/eng/main/main.jsp.