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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Inside Gyeongbokgung, Part I: Gyeonghoeru Pavilion


Gyeonghoeru (Hanja: 慶會樓), also known as Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, is a hall used to hold important and special state banquets during the Joseon Dynasty. Located inside Gyeongbok Palace (Gyeongbokgung), it is registered as Korea's National Treasure No. 224 on January 8, 1985.

The first Gyeonghoeru was constructed in 1412, the 12th year of the reign of King Taejong Yi Bang-won, but was burned down during the Japanese Imjin Invasion in 1592. The present building was constructed in 1867 (the 4th year of the reign of Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu) on an island of an artificial, rectangular lake that is 128 m wide and 113 m across.

Constructed mainly of wood and stone, Gyeonghoeru has a form where the wooden structure of the building sits on top of 48 massive stone pillars, with wooden stairs connecting the second floor to the first floor. The outer perimeters of Gyeonghoeru are supported by square pillars while the inner columns are cylindrical; they were placed thus to represent the idea of Yin & Yang.

When Gyeonghoeru was originally built in 1412, these stone pillars were decorated with sculptures depicting dragons rising to the sky, but these details were not reproduced when the building was rebuilt in the 19th century. Three stone bridges connect the building to the palace grounds, and corners of the balustrades around the island are decorated with sculptures depicting twelve Zodiac animals.

Gyeonghoeru used to be represented on the 10000 won Korean banknotes a.k.a King Sejong's bill (1983-2002 Series).