This blog may contain not-so-strong languages and slightly strong ecchi pictures. Please proceed with caution.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Confucian Confusions in Korea, Part XV: Danseong Hyanggyo, Sancheong, Southern Gyeongsang - A Hyanggyo in the Satanic County of Korea?

Danseong Hyanggyo (Hanja: 丹城鄕校) is a confucian academy which is located at 13-15 Gyodong Alley/Gyodong-gil, Gangnu-ri (강누리) 595-1 beonji, Sancheong County, Southern Gyeongsang Province. It was first built in 1127, the fifth year of the reign of King Injong of Goryeo (Reigned: 1122-1146), near Guin-dong, Gangnu-ri Village. It was moved once during the reign of King Sejong the Great (Reigned: 1418-1450) of Joseon and again to its present location in 1752, the 28th year of the reign of King Yeongjo (Reigned: 1724-1776). 

The arrangement of the various buildings follows the standard custom of placing the academic facilities in the front and the shrines in the rear. Inside the outer gate are two dormitories, Dongjae and Seojae (east and west dormitories), and behind them the main lecture hall, Myeongnyundang. Behind the inner gate are two subsidiary shrines, Dongmu and Seomu, and behind these stand the main Daeseongjeon shrine. 

The architecture is typical of the late Joseon period era with several exceptions: the passage below the Myeongnyundang and the walkway on either side of the inner gate are both unusual features.

MUAHAHAHAHA!!! Greetings, Korean Confucian Scholars. Can I JOIN you?

Foot note: The postal code of Sancheong County is 666-XXX. No wonder that we've invited the Satan to study about confucianism....

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Search Engines in Korea, Part II: Naver (네이버)

Naver Corporation (Korea Exchange Stock Code: 035420) is an Internet content service operator headquartered in 6 Buljeong Avenue/Buljeongno, Jeongja 1-dong 178-1 beonji, Seongnam Bundang-gu, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. 

Established in 1999 as NHN Corporation (Next Human Network), it operates the Naver search portal and Hangame gaming services. Its subsidiaries in Japan operate the Line messaging application as well as the Japanese versions of Naver and Hangame. On September 4, 2013, NHN Corporation split into Naver Corporation and a subsidiary named NHN Entertainment.

NHN Corporation was formed in September 2001 through the merger of Hangame Communications, Inc., maker of online games, and Naver Corporation, operator of a comprehensive search portal. Both companies had been launched a few years earlier: Hangame in November 1998 and Naver in June 1999. Upon the merger the name of the company became "Next Human Network", or NHN, although both divisions continue to operate under their original brand names.

Naver and Hangame each had established affiliates in Japan in 2000. These likewise merged in October 2003 to become NHN Japan with Naver Japan and Hangame Japan as subsidiaries. In June 2004 NHN formed Ourgame, a joint venture company in China with Sea Rainbow Holdings, though NHN eventually sold its stake in October 2011. In July 2005, NHN USA was incorporated and launched the ijji game portal in May 2007. NHN sold its stake in this enterprise in December 2011.

In 2008 NHN appeared on the Forbes Global 2000 list for the first time. That same year NHN had the largest market capitalization among KOSDAQ-listed companies before being transferred to the Kospi market in November. In 2009 Kim Sang-Hun of NHN and Kim Jing-Wan of Samsung were the only South Korean CEOs to appear on Asia's Fab 50.

In 2010 NHN bought Livedoor, a Japanese ISP and blog platform that claimed considerable resources but was undone by a trading scandal. In June 2011, NHN Japan launched Line, a messaging application that quickly soared in usage. In 2012 NHN Corp announced that it planned to invest 1.5 billion South Korean won (approx. 1.35 million USD) in developing ten social media games.

In 2013 NHN reorganized its Japan operations. Today, Line Corporation handles Internet products while Hangame Japan continues to develop gaming applications.

About Naver
Naver (Hangul: 네이버) is a popular search portal in South Korea, which holds a market share of over 70% at least since 2011, continuing to 2013. Naver was launched in June 1999 by ex-Samsung employees, and it debuted as the first Web portal in South Korea that used its own proprietary search engine. Among Naver's features is "Comprehensive Search", launched in 2000, which provides results from multiple categories on a single page. It has since added new services such as "Knowledge Search", launched in 2002. It also provides Internet services including a news service, an e-mail service, an academic thesis search service, and a children's portal. In 2005, Naver launched Happybean, the world's first online donation portal, which allows users to find information and make donations to over 20,000 civil society and social welfare organizations.

According to comScore, Naver received 2 billion queries in August 2007, accounting for over 70% of all search queries in Korea, and making it the fifth most used search engine in the world, following Google search, Yahoo!, Baidu and Bing. More than 25 million Koreans have Naver as the default browser start page. Naver launched its service in Japan in 2009, marking their first expansion out of Korea. In 2013, Lee Hae-jin, the chairman and chief strategy of Naver, saw his stake value hover above 1 trillion won (US$939.4 million) on the back of its messenger service LINE.

The word "Naver" was derived from the word "navigate" and the suffix "-er" to mean "a sailor of the Web". The Korean pronunciation, however, would be closer to the English "neighbor".

Naver was incorporated in June 1999, launching the first South Korean search portal that used an internally developed search engine. In August 2000, it launched the "Comprehensive Search" service. which allows users to get a variety of results from a search query on a single page, organized by type, including blogs, websites, images, cafes, etc. This was five years before Google launched a similar offering with its "Universal Search."

In July 2000, Naver was merged with Hangame, South Korea's first online game portal, and in 2001 changed its name to NHN, or Next Human Network. The combination of the country's top search engine and the top game portal has allowed NHN to remain South Korea's largest Internet company, with the top market capitalization among companies listed on KOSDAQ, in November 2008, NHN was transferred to the KOSPI market.

In the early days of Naver operation, there was a relative dearth of webpages in the Korean language. To fill this void, Naver became an early pioneer in user-generated content through the creation of the "Knowledge Search (hangul: 지식인 검색)" service in 2002. In Knowledge Search, users pose questions on any subject, and select among answers provided by other users, awarding points to the users who provide the best answers. Knowledge Search was launched three years before Yahoo! launched its similar "Yahoo! Answers" service, and now possesses a database of over 80 million answer pages.

Over the years, Naver has continued to expand its offerings, adding a blog service in 2005, local information search and book search services in 2004, desktop search in 2005, and the webtoon(webcomic) service in 2006. From 2005-2007 it expanded its multimedia search services, including music and video search, Internet phone service and mobile search. On January 1, 2009, Naver released its new interface.

1 April 2013, Naver launched Newsstand to pursue fairness. Because Naver launched Newsstand, every News organization is able to edit News articles that appear on Naver.

Naver in Japan? SWEET.
NHN Japan is the Japanese arm of NHN Corp. NHN Japan was established to oversee Hangame Japan, the Naver Japan portal, and the Japanese ISP and blog platform Livedoor. Then in 2011 it launched a new service that acquired a life of its own.

Line, a media messaging and VoIP application, was developed in response to the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Widespread damage to Japan's telecommunications infrastructure obliged NHN Japan employees to rely on Internet tools to communicate. Engineers responded with Line, and in June the company released its new resource to the public. Eighteen months later Line had 100 million users and was still growing.

The explosive success of Line led to the creation of Line Corporation in February 2013. Line Corporation, based in Japan, now houses Internet operations such as Line, Naver Japan, and Livedoor. Hangame Japan continues to develop electronic games, including those for the Line Game brand.

A joint venture of NHN Corp and Line Corporation is Line Plus Corporation, also based in Japan. Line Plus is tasked with developing overseas markets. Line Corporation holds 60% of Line Plus shares with Korean parent NHN Corp holding the remaining 40%.

Search Engines in Korea, Part I: Daum (다음)

Daum Hannam Branch @ Ilshin Building - Italian Embassy, Seoul Yongsan-gu
Daum (Korean: 다음; Korea Exchange Stock Code: 035720) is a web portal in South Korea, like Naver and Nate. Daum offers many Internet services to web users, including a popular free web-based e-mail, messaging service, forums, shopping and news. The word "daum" is "多音", means "many sounds" in Sino-Korean. In fact, 'daum' also means 'next' in Archaic Korean. Daum Communications has two offices in Korea: the Main Office in Jeju and its branch at the Ilshin Building a.k.a Italian Embassy, Seoul Yongsan-gu.

The popularity of Daum stems from the range of services it offers, but also from the fact that it was the first Korean web portal of significant size. Its popularity started when it merged with the then most popular e-mail service, daum.net or hanmail.net. After the merging, Daum started the forum service Daum Cafe which brought its firm status in the market. The term cafe and even internet cafe (Different from what is supposed to refer to in Western usage) is now used as the synonym for "Internet forum" in Korean.

Daum Communications Jeju Main Office
From 2003, Daum started on-line direct automobile insurance by launching the subsidiary 'Daum Direct Auto Insurance' and from 2008, it became a partnership company with ERGO Insurance Group.

On August 2, 2004 Daum announced the purchase of Lycos for $95.4 million, and closed the transaction on October 6. As part of a corporate restructuring to focus on mobile, social networks and location-based services, Daum sold Lycos for $36 million in August 2010 to Ybrant Digital, an internet marketing company based in Hyderabad, India.

In 2006, they started a blogging service Tistory with 'Tatter and Company', a blogging platform developing company and in July 2007, Daum took over all rights to manage the services. The company also develops and distributes the freeware media player PotPlayer. In addition to its freeware media player(Daum tvPot), Daum Communications Corp. provides variety of services such as clouding service (Daum Cloud), Daum Dictionary (applicable on mobile devices), Daum Comics, and map service (Daum Maps).

Daum has about 874 employees as of March, 2009 and is the 2nd largest web portal service provider in terms of daily visit.

Moran Market, Seongnam JungWon-gu, Gyeonggi Province: The Biggest 5-day market in Korea

The Moran Folk Market or simply known as Moran Market (Hanja: 牡丹市場 or 牡丹民俗場) opened every five days when the last digit of the date is 4 or 9, is one of the biggest folk markets in South Korea, gathering approximately 50,000 visitors a day. It is located at 79 Dunchon Boulevard/Dunchon-daero, Seongnam-dong 4190-beonji, Seongnam JungWon-gu, Gyeonggi Province.

Though first appeared in 1962, the Moran Folk Market has become famous as it is since the early 1980s. As it was a traditional market, rarely seen in the metropolitan area, it could grow itself and attract more visitors. Visitors can buy flowers, cereals, herbs, general merchandise, fishes, freshwater fishes, pet dogs, foods, and so on in this traditional market filed with lively atmosphere and warm-heartedness.

The market takes place on the 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th, 24th, 29th day of every month (except for every February in non-leaping year). This market takes place on a vacant lot beside the Moran bus terminal and 1200 merchants comes from all over Korea to sell their goods. Although goods here are 20 ~ 30% cheaper than anywhere else, as the fun of traditional markets is to bargain, you can see this scene everywhere here.

The market is divided into 13 zones depending on the goods transacted at each. Located closest to the entrance is the flower zone, followed by the cereal, herb, clothing, shose, general merchandise, fish, and vegetable zones. The goods transacted here vary with seasons:a variety of flowers, seedlings and seeds are seen in spring while nutritious foods and seasonal delicacies like cold noodles attract visitors in summer. In fall, medicinal herbs for winter and crops just harvested fill the stands while the dried mackerel pike, another seasonal delicacy, is tasted here in winter.

When you go to the Moran market it is divided in sections so that it is easier for you to find what you want. The pet dog section where children and dog lovers can find puppies of all sorts and pedigree at all sorts of prices. The dogs are sold connected to the farm you can buy them without worries. In the domestic animal section you can find ducks, chickens, rabbits, cats, iguana etc.

In the herb section you can see many old merchants. It is to find Korean medical herbs. Since all the herbs are divided into imported herbs and Korean herbs. At the section you can find over 40 different types. The fun here is that you can find the Misukaru. Misukaru is Korean traditional powdered mixed grains that you can stir in water and drink. Right beside the grain section you can find the Peongtigi-men and here such loud noise. The noise comes from a black container with smoke coming out of it. This is a container that fries grains. This is similar to popcorn but instead of corn rice and other grains are used.

There are many kinds of shoes with famous brand names that are changed a little. There are no named brands but plenty of strong and different design shoes. The best thing here is that the prices of the shoes are so cheap, only around 10,000won. You can find so all sorts of beautiful flowers here that cost only around 2,000won.

Moran market is a place where you buy things but at the same time it's a place where you can meet fun people. You can meet all sorts of special people such as the man who sell clothes with a monkey, the taffy seller who dances to the drum rhythm, the man who writes with a leather belt etc.

One of the most popular is the Pumba taffy sellers. Two men who are dressed as women perform in turns. Its hard not to buy taffies after seeing the Pumbas who dance and sing so lively according to the drum beat.

After going around to buy and see things you will get quite hungry. Then you can go to the eating-place in the center of the market. On the day the market is on there are always customers here. It is quite interesting to see how fast the ladies move and to feel the noisy atmosphere where people drink, eat and enjoy themselves. If you go to the Moran market you should try the hand-made chopped noodle. The hand-made chopped noodle is made right at the place and the noodle is very chewy and the soup is very good. It costs only 3,000won.

Moran Market is accessible either by using SMRT Line 8 or KORAIL-Bundang Line to Station 826/K225: Moran Station

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Silla Superiority Complex, Part V: Royal Tomb of Queen Seondeok, First Queen of Silla

Queen Seondeok of Gyeongju Kim Clan (Hanja: 善德女王; Died: 17 February 647) reigned as Queen of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, from 632 to 647. She was Silla's twenty-seventh ruler, and its first reigning queen. She was the second female sovereign in East Asian history and encouraged a renaissance in thought, literature, and the arts in Silla. She is not to be confused with her male counterpart, King Seondeok - 37th Monarch of Silla (Reigned: 780~785).

Before she became queen, Seondeok was known as Princess Deongman (덕만/德曼). According to the Samguk Sagi, she was the first of King Jinpyeong's daughters. But according to other historical records, she was the second of King Jinpyeong's daughters and much younger than her elder sister, Princess Cheonmyeong. Her nephew, Princess Cheonmyeong's son, eventually became King Taejong-Muyeol the Great of Silla while Seondeok's other sister, Princess Seonhwa, eventually married King Mu of Baekje and became the mother of King Uija of Baekje. Seonhwa's existence is controversial due to the discovery of evidence in 2009 that points to King Uija's mother as being Queen Sataek, and not Seonhwa as indicated by historical records.

Because he had no sons, Jinpyeong selected Seondeok as his heir. Though unprecedented, this action was would probably not have been all that shocking within Silla, as women of the period had already had a certain degree of influence as advisors, dowager queens, and regents (Jinpyeong himself gained the throne as a result of a coup d'etats organized by Lady Mishil). Throughout the kingdom, women were heads of families since matrilineal lines of inheritance existed alongside patrilineal ones. During the Silla kingdom, the status of women was relatively high, but there were still restrictions on female behavior and conduct; they were discouraged from activities considered unwomanly. Ultimately, Seondeok's successful reign in turn facilitated the acceptance of two more Queens regnant of Silla.

In 632, Seondeok became the sole ruler of Silla, and reigned until 647. She was the first of three female rulers of the kingdom (the other two being Jindeok of Silla and Jinseong of Silla), and was immediately succeeded by her cousin Jindeok, who ruled until 654.

Seondeok's reign began in the midst of a violent rebellion and fighting in the neighboring kingdom of Baekje were often what preoccupied her. Yet, in her fourteen years as queen of Silla, she used her wit to her advantage. When Baekje invaded, she sought an alliance with Goguryeo. When Goguryeo also turned on Silla, she strengthened ties with Tang China. She kept the kingdom together and sent royal emissaries and scholars to China. She is also credited with the initial formulation of a Korean chivalric code and sent young Koreans to China for martial arts training.

Like Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang and her own father, she was drawn to Buddhism and presided over the completion of Buddhist temples. Notable amongst Buddhist structures she had built is the nine-story wooden pagoda in Hwangnyongsa. On each story of the 80 meters high structure was the name inscribed of one of the neighbors Silla intended to subjugate. Bunhwangsa and Yeongmyosa were also built under her auspices.

She built the "Star-Gazing Tower," or Cheomseongdae, considered the first dedicated observatory in the Far East. The tower still stands in the old Silla capital of Gyeongju, South Korea. She also worked towards relief of poverty.

In the first lunar month of 647, Lord Bidam of Silla led a revolt with the slogan that "female rulers cannot rule the country” (女主不能善理). Legend says that during the uprising, a star fell and was interpreted by Bidam's followers as a sign of the end of the queen's reign. Kim Yushin (commander-in-chief of the royal army from 629) advised the queen to fly a burning kite as a sign that the star was back in its place.

Yeomjong stated that about ten days after Bidam's uprising, he and thirty of his men were executed. By then Queen Seondeok had died and her cousin had ascended the throne as Queen Jindeok. Neither the date of her birth nor the cause of her death are known.

It is believed that Seondeok's selection as her father's successor was justified by her displays of precocious intelligence when she was a princess. One such story (both in Samguk Sagi and Samguk Yusa) recounts that her father received a box of peony seeds from the Emperor Taizong of Tang accompanied by a painting of what the flowers looked like. Looking at the picture, the young Seondeok remarked that while the flower was pretty it was a shame that it did not smell. "If it did, there would be butterflies and bees around the flower in the painting." Her observation about the peonies' lack of scent proved correct — just one of many illustrations of her intellect and hence of her ability to rule.

There are two other accounts of Seondeok's unusual ability to perceive events before their occurrence. In the first it is said that Seondeok once heard a horde of white frogs croaking by the Jade Gate pond in the winter. She interpreted this as an impending attack from the Kingdom of Baekje (the croaking frogs were seen as angry soldiers) in the northwest of Silla (white symbolized the west in astronomy) at the Women's Valley (the Jade Gate was associated with women). When she sent her generals to the Women's Valley, they were able to capture two thousand Baekje soldiers.

The second is an account of her death. Some days before she died, Seondeok gathered her officials and gave the order "When I die, bury me near the Dori-cheon (忉利天, "Heaven of Grieved Merits")." Decades after her death, the thirtieth king Munmu of Silla constructed Sacheonwang-sa (四天王寺 "Temple of the Four Heavenly Kings") in her tomb. Then the nobles realized that one of the Buddha's sayings, "Dori-cheon is above the Sacheonwang-cheon", was accomplished by the Queen.

Queen Seondeok died in February 17th 647 and buried at Baeban-dong san 79-2 beonji, Gyeongju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province. Queen Jindeok succeeded to the Silla's throne after the demise of her cousin.

Silla Superiority Complex, Part IV: Cheomseongdae Observatory - First Observatory in Korea during the reign of Queen Seondeok

Cheomseongdae (Hanja: 瞻星臺) is the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia. Constructed during the reign of 27th Monarch of Silla Dynasty, Queen Seondeok (Reigned: 632-647) - it was used for observing the stars in order to forecast the weather. This stone structure is a beautiful combination of straight lines and curves, and was designated as Korean Republic National Treasure No.31 on December 20th, 1962. It is located at Inwang-dong 839-1 beonji, Gyeongju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province.

According to Samguk Yusa, Cheomseongdae was constructed under the reign of Queen Seondeok near the capital of the kingdom. Cheomseongdae means "star gazing platform". The tower is built out of 362 pieces of cut granite which some claim represent the 362 days of the lunar year. Some surveys of the site have indicated that there are 366 blocks. It has 27 circular layers of stones (some associate it with the fact that Queen Seondeok was considered to be the 27th ruler of Silla or the constellation of stars) surmounted by a square structure. 12 of the layers are below the window level and 12 are above. There are 12 large base stones set in a square, with three stones on each side. These sets of 12 may symbolize the months of the year.

The observatory was built in a cylinder shape with stones 30cm in diameter. 362 stones were piled up to make 27 levels. Roughly 4.16m up from the bottom there is 1 sq m square entrance and a space to hang a ladder under it. Its construction style parallels that used at the Bunhwangsa Temple in Gyeongju.

The inside is filled with soil up to the 12th level, and the 19th, 20th, 25th, and 26th levels all have long rocks hanging on two areas, shaped as the Chinese letter '井' (jeong). 

It stands 9.17m high and the base stone on each side measures 5.35m. The Vernal Equinox, Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice and the 24 solar terms (also known as the astronomical solar year) were determined by the observation of stars. The pavilion stone is believed to have been used as a standard of deciding directions, north, south, east and west. The 362 stones used to build Cheomseongdae represented the 362 days in a lunar year.

Cheomseongdae is the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia, though some claim that it was not suitable for astronomical observation. Others posit that it was used for astrology rather than astronomy, though during that era there was little differentiation between the two. Some scholars have argued that Cheomseongdae's design was heavily influenced by Buddhism, noting similarities between its design and Mount Sumeru, the center of the world according to Buddhist mythology.

Kings of Joseon Dynasty, Part X: King Yeonsan the Terrible - The Most Treacherous King of Joseon Dynasty!

Prince Yeonsan a.k.a King Yeonsan the Terrible (Hanja: 燕山君; Born: 24 October 1476 – Killed: 20 November 1506, Reigned: 1494–1506), born Yi Yung (이융/李㦕), was the 10th king of Korea's Joseon Dynasty. He was the eldest son of Seongjong by his second wife, Lady Yoon. He is often considered the worst tyrant in Joseon Dynasty, notorious for launching two bloody purges of the seonbi elite. He also seized a thousand women from the provinces to serve as palace entertainers, and appropriated the Seonggyungwan hall of study as a personal pleasure ground. Because he was overthrown, King Yeonsan did not receive a temple name - otherwise given his courtesy name of King Heoncheon Hongdo Gyeongmun Wimu the Great (헌천홍도경문위무대왕/憲天弘道經文緯武大王).

Deposed Queen Yoon, formally known as Queen Jeheon, served Prince Yeonsan's father, Seongjong, as a concubine until the death of Queen Gonghye, Seongjong's first wife. With no royal heir, the king was urged by counselors to take a second wife to secure the royal succession. Lady Yoon was chosen for her beauty, and was formally married in 1476. Several months later, she gave birth to her first son, Yi Yung, later to become Prince Yeonsan. The new queen proved to be temperamental and highly jealous of Seongjong's concubines living inside the palace, even poisoning one in 1477. In 1479, she physically struck the king one night, leaving scratch marks. Despite efforts to conceal the injury, Seongjong's mother, Queen Dowager In-soo, discovered the truth and ordered Lady Yoon, now known as the Deposed Queen Yoon, into exile. After several popular attempts to restore the deposed Queen to her position at court, government officials petitioned that she be poisoned, and she was.

The Crown Prince grew up and succeeded Seongjong in 1494. During his early reign, he was a wise and able administrator who strengthened the national defense and aided poor people. He also showed signs of violent side when he killed Jo Sa-seo, one of his tutors, soon after becoming the king. He eventually learned what happened to his biological mother and tried to restore his mother's title and position posthumously. 

When the government officials belonging to political faction called Sarim opposed his efforts on the account of Seongjong's will, he was displeased and looked for ways to eliminate them. In 1498, Kim Il-son, a disciple of Kim Jong-jik, included a paragraph in the royal record that was critical of King Sejo's usurpation of throne in 1455. Kim Il-son and other followers of Kim Jong-jik were accused of treason by a rival faction, which gave King Yeonsan enough cause to order execution of many Sarim officials and mutilation of Kim Jong-jik's remains. This is called the Moo-oh Literati Purge of 1498 (무오사화/戊午士禍).

In 1504, Im Sa-hong revealed to King Yeonsan details of his mother's death and showed blood-stained piece of clothing, which was allegedly blood vomited by her after drinking poison. On March 20, 1504, he beat to death two of his father's concubines, for their responsibility for his mother's death. His grandmother, Queen Dowager In-soo, died when she was pushed by King Yeonsan after one of altercations. He executed many government officials who supported the execution of his mother, now posthumously known as Queen Jeheon, and ordered the grave of Han Myeong-hoi to be opened and the head cut off the corpse. This is known as the Gapja Literati Purge of 1504 (갑자사화/甲子士禍).

He also closed Seonggyungwan, the royal university, and converted it to his pleasure grounds, for which young girls and horses were gathered from the whole Korean Peninsula. He demolished a large residential area and evicted many residents to build hunting grounds. He also forced people into involuntary labor to build another pleasure ground. Many commoners mocked and insulted the king with posters written in hangul. This provoked the anger of King Yeonsan, and he banned the use of hangul.

When ministers protested his actions, he abolished the Office of Censors (whose function was to criticize inappropriate actions or policies of the king) and Hongmungwan (library and research center that advised the king with Confucian teachings). He ordered his ministers to wear a sign that read: "A mouth is a door that brings in disaster; a tongue is a sword that cuts off a head. A body will be in peace as long as its mouth is closed and its tongue is deep within." (口是禍之門 舌是斬身刀 閉口深藏舌 安身處處牢). When the chief eunuch Kim Cheo-sun, who served three kings, entreated King Yeonsan to change his ways, the latter killed him by shooting arrows and personally cutting off his limbs, and punished his relatives down to the 7th degree. When King Yeonsan asked the royal secretaries whether such punishment was appropriate, they didn't dare to say otherwise. He also exiled a minister of rites for spilling a drink that he had poured. Many people were afraid of his despotic rule and their voices were quelled, in stark contrast to the liberal era of his father.

In 1506, the 12th year of King Yeonsan, a group of officials - notably Park Won-jong, Seong Hui-an, Yoo Soon-jeong and Hong Gyeong-ju - plotted against the despotic ruler. They launched their coup on 2 September 1506, deposing the king and replacing him with his half-brother, Grand Prince Jinseong (later King Jungjong). The king was demoted to prince, and sent into exile, where he killed the same year. Consort Jang Nok-su was regarded as the 'femme fatale' that encouraged King Yeonsan's misrule and was beheaded. King Yeonsan's young sons: Deposed Prince Successor Yi Hwang and Grand Prince Changnyeong were killed as well. The whereabouts of his daughter, Princess Hwisin is unknown.

King Yeonsan the Terrible is buried at Banghak 3-dong san 77-beonji, Seoul Dobong-gu in prior to coup d'etat which was initiated by King Jungjong's loyalists. King Yeonsan's consort, Deposed Queen Geochang of Shin Clan died 31 years later and buried beside her husband.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Inside Changgyeonggung, Part I: The Umbilical Cord of King Seongjong

King Seongjong of Joseon, previously known as Grand Prince Jalsan (Hanja: 成宗王 [乽山大君]; Born: August 19th 1457 – Died: January 20th 1494; Reigned: December 31st 1469 - January 20th 1494), born Yi Hyeol (이혈/李娎) was the ninth king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. He succeeded his uncle, King Yejong in 1469 and ruled until 1494.

He was grandson of King Sejo, nephew of King Yejong. He succeeded King Yejong in 1469 when the weak king died and his son was too young to succeed him. Since he was too young to govern the kingdom effectively (he was 13 when he was crowned), Queen Jeonghui of Papyeong Yoon Clan, his grandmother, ruled the nation in his name, along with the king's mother, Queen Dowager In-soo a.k.a Queen Sohye of Cheongju Han Clan (whose husband - Crown Prince Uigyeong Yi Jang had never actually been king, but he was ascended to throne posthumously). In 1476, at the age of 20, he began to govern the country in his own name.

His reign was marked by the prosperity and growth of the national economy, based on the laws laid down by kings Taejong, Sejong, and Sejo. He himself was a gifted ruler. In 1474, the code of law, first ordered by King Sejo, was completed and put into effect. Seongjong also ordered revisions and improvements to the code.

Besides the law, he also encouraged Confucian scholars; He greatly expanded Hongmungwan (홍문관, 弘文館), the royal library and advisory council to the king at the same time, and strengthened so-called Three Offices (Hongmungwan, Office of Inspector General, Office of Censors) as check and balance on the Royal Court. For the first time since King Sejong, he brought many liberal Confucian scholars to his court, whose political views went against those of the conservative officials (members of the nobility) who had helped kings Taejong and Sejo to power. In this way he made his rule more effective by appointing able administrators regardless of their political views. His policy resulted in many positive innovations, increasing his number of supporters. The king himself was an artist and scholar, and liked to argue about the finer points of politics with more liberal scholars. He encouraged scholars to publish numerous books about geography and social etiquette, for example, as well as areas of knowledge that benefited the common people.

He also sent several military campaigns against the Jurchens on the northern border in 1491, like many of his predecessors. The campaign, led by Gen. Heo Jong (허종/許琮), was successful, and the defeated Jurchens led by Udige (兀狄哈) retreated to the north of Amrok River. King Seongjong was succeeded by his son, King Yeonsan the Terrible, in 1494.

Inside Gyeongbokgung, Part III: Hyangwonjeong Pavilion

Here comes the dark queen in Gyeongbok Palace.
Hyangwonjeong Pavilion (Hangul/Hanja: 향원정/香遠亭) was constructed on an artificial island of a lake named Hyangwonji (향원지/香遠池), and a bridge named Chwihyanggyo (취향교/醉香橋) connects it to the palace grounds. The name Hyangwonjeong loosely translates as "Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance," while Chwihyanggyo translates as "Bridge Intoxicated with Fragrance."

There was once a hall called Jangandang Hall north of the Hamhwadang Hall. As the northern corridor of this building was near to the northern palace, one soon reached the Gyemumun, a secret gate to the palace, once one left the corridor. There was the Gonnyeonghap Pavilion east of the Jangandang, and there was the Boksudang Hall (please note that Boksudang is not to be meant as the Hall of Revenge/Redemption) which is located at the north of the pavilion. 

There is a pond south of this hall's southern corridor, namely, south of the Geoncheonggung Residence. There is an isle in the center of the pond. A hexagonal two-story pavilion named Hyangwonjeong perches on the isle. At present we can reach the pavilion through a wooden bridge in the south. But the bridge was once located in the north for crossing the Geoncheonggung Residence. The bridge is called Chwihyanggyo.

Constructed in 1456, the Hyangwonji pond belongs to the rear garden of the Gyeongbokgung palace. It can be also found in an ancient Korean chronicle. According to the record, the pond was built along with the Chwirojeong pavilion, and lotus flowers were planted in it.

The existing pond was reconstructed in 1873 by the royal decree from Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu, and the hexagonal pavilion of Hyangwonjeong and Chwihyanggyo bridge were built then. The area of the pond is 4605 square meters.

Waterweeds can be found there along with carp swimming in the pond, by which trees, including zelkova, chinese juniper, maple, pine, oak, pear etc. stand.

On the island in which the Hyangwonjeong pavilion is erected shrubs, including royal azaleas and maple trees grow, and south of the pond, one finds a stone pond with "荷池"(Haji) inscribed on the side and there are also stone tables here.

The water of the pond springs up from the northern hill and the well called Yeolsangjinwon. The pond is at its most spectacular when the Mt. Bugak, the pavilion painted in diverse colours, and the wooden bridge are reflected on the water in the pond. 

The bridge Chwihyanggyo was originally located on the north side of the island and was the longest bridge constructed purely of wood during the Joseon Dynasty; however, it was destroyed during the Korean War. The bridge was reconstructed in its present form on the south side of the island in 1953.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Woninjae, Incheon Yeonsu-gu: The Official Mansion of Incheon Lee Lineage

Woninjae (Hanja: 源仁齋) which is located at 322 GyeongWon Boulevard/GyeongWon-daero, Yeonsu-dong 584-beonji, Incheon Yeonsu-gu was constructed in early the 19th century to perform ancestral rites to Lee Heo-gyeom (이허겸/李許謙), founder of Incheon Lee Clan and mayor of Soseong (old name of Incheon) in the 15th year of King Hyeonjong, Goryeo Dynasty (c.1024). This structure was also constructed to protect his tomb. 

Though originally located in Shinji villiage, Yeonsu-dong, it was displaced by development in 1994 and moved to the present place, next to the founder’s grave. Woninjae, which means the original place of Incheon Lee Lineage, was restored and extended by the dedicated contribution of the Lee family and a subsidy from Incheon Metropole.

Woninjae is accessible by using either Incheon Metro Line 1 or KORAIL-Suin Line to Station I130/K257: Woninjae Station (Himchan Hospital)/원인재역 (힘찬병원).

Inside Gyeongbokgung, Part II: Jibokjae Royal Private Library

Jibokjae (Hangul/Hanja: 집옥재/集玉齋), located next to Geoncheonggung Residence, is a two-story private library used by Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu. In 1876, a major fire occurred in Gyeongbok Palace, and Emperor Gojong, for a brief period, moved and resided in Changdeok Palace. He eventually moved back to Gyeongbok Palace in 1888, but he had the pre-existing Jibokjae building disassembled and moved from Changdeokgung to the present location in 1891. Its name, Jibokjae, translates loosely in English as the "Hall of Collecting Jade."

The building uniquely shows heavy influence of Chinese architecture instead of traditional Korean palace architecture. Its side walls were entirely constructed in brick, a method commonly employed by the contemporary Chinese, and its roof formations, interior screens, and columns also show Chinese influences. Its architecture possibly was meant to give it an exotic appearance.

Jibokjae is flanked by Parujeong (팔우정/八隅亭), an octagonal two-story pavilion, to the left and Hyeopgildang (협길당/協吉堂) to the right. Parujeong was constructed to store books, while Hyeopgildang served as a part of Jibokjae. Both of the buildings are internally connected to Jibokjae.

Bohyeondang (보현당/寶賢堂) and Gahoejeong (가회정/嘉會亭), buildings that also formed a library complex to the south of Jibokjae, were demolished by the Japanese government in the early 20th century.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Western Dom, Goyang IlsanDong-gu, Gyeonggi Province: We're shaking our ass while shopping until drop in this Shopping Mall.

Situated behind MBC Dream Center (Janghang 2-dong, Goyang IlsanDong-gu, Gyeonggi Province), Western Dom is one of the most popular places in Ilsan along with Lafesta, an open street shopping mall. Western Dom (B2F to 10F) houses over 500 shops offering international food, clothing, accessories and cosmetics; it also boasts the Multiplex Cinema (with one IMAX screen) and the Western Tower, a luxury office town.

Introducing the concept of “Modern-style Traditional Market,” Western Dom offers diverse items by themes, displayed at over 100 stalls. The building is designed to ease the flow of foot traffic and is decorated with a wide array of works by local artists. Its ceiling showcases colorful lighting at night and its spacious main square offers exciting events and performances year-round. Near Western Dom are shopping malls (e.g. Lotte Department Store and Homever), Lake Park, Migwan Square, and Jeongbalsan Park.

This shopping mall is accessible by using KORAIL-Seoul Metro Line 3 to Station 312: Jeongbalsan Station (Goyang Aram Nuri Center)

Hallelujah Korea, Part VIII: Gyesan Cathedral, Daegu Jung-gu - Home of Archdiocese of Daegu

The Gyesan Cathedral of Our Lady of Loudres (Hanja: 桂山聖堂) was built by Priest Robert, A.P. (1853-1922), who came to Daegu for missionary work. Located at 10 Seoseong Avenue/Seoseongno, Gyesan-dong 2-ga 71-1 beonji, Daegu Jung-gu, this cathedral is the home for Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Daegu (Hangul/Hanja/Latin: 천주교 대구대교구/天主教大邱大教區/Archidioecesis Taeguensis).  

The Archbishop of Daegu, whose seat is at Gyesan Cathedral in Daegu, is Metropolitan bishop for the Dioceses of Andong, Cheongju, Changwon, and Busan. It is the second oldest episcopal see in Korea, erected as an apostolic vicariate on April 8, 1911 from the Apostolic Vicariate of Korea. It was elevated to archdiocesan status on March 10, 1962.

In 1899, the church building was constructed with wood using a Korean-style design, but was destroyed by fire a few months after construction began. Priest Robert, with assistance of the Koreans: Augustine Seo Sang-don, Kim Jong-hak and Jeong Gyu-ok were created a new building design and imported stained glass and galvanized iron from France and Hong Kong, since these types of building materials were hard to find in Korea. Construction was finally completed in 1902, three years after the project was first started. 

The Cathedral is the only remaining structure in Daegu from the early 1900s. The church is Latin cross-shaped with a nave and transepts on both sides. Such formations are seen both inside and outside the building. This predominantly Romanesque church also features some Gothic architectural elements such as stained-glass windows and pinnacles. 

Gyesan Cathedral played a pivotal role in promoting Catholicism in the Yeongnam-Gyeongsang area. In 1911, it was separated from the Joseon Catholic parish and became the main Catholic parish in Daegu area, naming Priest Robert as the first chief priest. Statues commemorating the priest stand in the rectory and a memorial hall named ‘Gwandeokjeong’ holds the remains of 65 Catholic martyrs.

Hallelujah Korea, Part VII: Saenamteo Cathedral, Seoul Yongsan-gu - Catholic Persecution inside Joseon Military Camp

Saenamteo Cathedral which is located at 80-8 Ichon Avenue/Ichonno, Ichon-dong 199-1 beonji, Seoul Yongsan-gu was a former military camp that served as a place for execution of opponents of the Joseon Dynasty and these include the Korean Catholics. 

It is also the place of martyrdom of many Christians among whom MEP fathers (Foreign Catholic Mission of Paris) but also the first father sent to Korea by the Chinese at the request of the Korean faithfuls (a Chinese father Ju Mo-moon) in 1801, the first native Korean Catholic Priest St Andrew Kim Dae-geon in 1846 (canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1984 with 102 other martyrs).

Many MEP fathers were executed including 2 bishops and 5 fathers (3 in 1839 and 4 in 1866) who were canonized in 1984. The MEP martyrs of 1839 were : Bishop Imbert (2nd Bishop of Korea), father Maubant and father Chastan MEP who were first MEP missionaries in Korea (as later for Bishop Daveluy -See Galmaemot- they surrendered to avoid a massacre).

The basilica was built in Korean style, which is uncommon architecture built in East Asia. Most of basilicas around the world built in Western style.

Holy Relics of 9 Saints are present in the crypt. 8 of this Saints were executed in Saenamteo : 3 French missionaries tortured in 1839, 4 French missionaries tortured in 1866 and Korean father Andrew Kim Dae-geon. The 9th Saint is a layman Korean martyred in 1866 at the South Gate of Seoul.

Hallelujah Korea, Part VI: Yakhyeon Cathedral, Seoul Jung-gu - The Oldest Catholic Cathedral in Seoul

Founded in 1892, Yakhyeon Cathedral (Hanja: 藥峴聖堂) was the first Catholic Church in Korea, built 6 years before Myeongdong Cathedral. Since its tragic destruction by fire in 1998, Yakhyeon Cathedral was refurbished and newly reopened to the public in September 2009. Seosomun Memorial Hall, which was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its foundation, is housed in the precinct of the church. Seosomun Park, where 44 Korean martyrs are buried, is sited close to Yakhyeon Cathedral. The cathedral is located at 447-1 Cheongpa Avenue/Cheongparo, Jungnim-dong 149-2 beonji, Seoul Jung-gu.

Yakhyeon Cathedral was elevated to a parish church under the Archdiocese of Seoul on 9th November 1892 and later changed its name to Jungnim-dong Catholic Church. The church was originally a school, set up in 1887 by Bishop Blanc, the 7th bishop of the Archdiocese of Seoul and priest with the Paris Foreign Missions Society, with the purpose of teaching the doctrine of Roman Christianity and planting the Catholic faith in Korea. On the strength of his expanding congregation and with the permission of Bishop Mutel (8th bishop of the Archdiocese of Seoul) he purchased land to build a church in what was then the Jungnim district. The laying of the foundation stone for this new consecrated parish church was held on October 1891. Construction was eventually completed in September 1892, and on the 23rd April 1893, Bishop Mutel conducted the very first ceremony of consecration of a church in Korea. This fine example of early Gothic style church suffered tragic destruction by fire on 11th February 1998. The main tower and the body of the church were irreparably damaged. After this tragic accident, the church underwent a series of restoration work until it eventually reached its current state. Once again, a ceremony of consecration was held, conducted by Bishop Nicolas Jeong Jinseok on 17th September 2000.

Myeongdong Cathedral is often mistaken as the first Catholic Church ever built in Korea. However, it is actually Yakhyeon Cathedral that is entitled to claim that honor, even though Myeongdong Cathedral was the first parish church under the Archdiocese of Seoul. Thus, Yakhyeon Cathedral is the second consecrated parish church, but was actually built in 1892, 6 years earlier than Myeongdong Cathedral.

Yakhyeon Cathedral was the first Catholic and western style church ever built in Korea. Designed by a priest (Fr. Coast, 1842-1896), this earliest example of Gothic architecture features a 12m wide and 32m long cruciform construction with low arched windows, including a pointed-arch entrance gate and side windows.

Yakhyeon Cathedral has many aspects of historical importance apart from its distinction of being Korea’s first western style Catholic Church. Beautifully constructed, the Gothic style brickwork is renowned for its own aesthetic value as well. The church overlooks Seosomun Plaza where many martyrs were buried, those who died for their faith of Roman Catholicism during religious persecution in Korea. Thus, the church has significance both for its architecture and for the history of the church in Korea.

Since its foundation, the whole structure of Yakhyeon Cathedral has steadily expanded. The spire and bell were set in place in 1905 and the original pillars of the interior were entirely changed in 1921. After renovation in 1974, the church was reduced to ashes by fire. However, it was rebuilt again in September 2000 closer to its 1982 original features.

Yakhyeon Cathedral was named after “a hill of medicinal herbs” in Korean, reflecting the wish that the church would give the benefit of cure to the poor soul. The entrance to the church is at the top of a small hill known as “a prayer hill”, and leading up to it is “the Way of the Cross”, a stone pathway made of 14 individual stones, each representing the symbolic path of Jesus carrying the cross on his shoulders to the crucifixion. The Gothic style of the church is rather modest but graceful and elegant, the sanctity and purity of the church reflected in its architectural characteristics. The interior of the church features a three-part division (nave and pathways on both sides) and three large portals with pointed arch or ribbed vault. In the past there was a screen dividing the naves to separate the genders but not nowadays. A series of renovations has modernized and transformed the church much closer to its original features.

Take Fivers: If Gertrud works as a part-timer at Baskin Robbins....

Banghak-dong Goblin Market, Seoul Dobong-gu: Making your Chuseok and Seollal Celebrations going more smoother as usual.

Here comes the spoilsport of Seollal and Chuseok! Nero will gobble up all songpyeon and tteokguk! 
At Seoul Subway Line 1 Banghak Station Exit 3, take either bus No. 1128 or 1126 near Ssangmun station. Get off at "Banghak Dokkaebi Market". Near the bus stop, there is an alley that divides the market into two big east and west sections. 

The market which is located at 29 Dodangno 13da-gil, Banghak-dong 632-beonji, Seoul Dobong-gu is popularly known as the 'Dokkaebi (Goblin) Market.' Back in the old days during Asian Financial Crisis (1997~1998), whenever police officers came to the market to crack down on unlicensed street vendors, the vendors would disappear instantly, thus earning the nickname 'Dokkaebi.'

One thing that stands out from large retail firms is that a variety of goods are offered at discounted prices. During limited time sales, certain products can be purchased at one tenth of regular prices. There are 4~6 annual sales during holidays like New Year's Day and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day). The limited time sales have proven to be a successful marketing strategy. People from other provinces often come to the market to learn its system. The limited time sales began in 2004. They are run from 1 to 6 in the afternoon, three times a week (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). Each annual sale is held for at least 10 days.

Inside Changdeokgung, Part V: Nakseonjae Residence

Nakseonjae Residence (Hanja: 樂善齋; Mansion of Joy and Goodness) was first constructed in 1847 by order of King Heonjong, the 24th king of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) for his fourteen-year-old concubine Kim Gyeongbin. At the time, King Heonjong, who died at twenty-two in 1849, was married to his second wife, Queen Hyojeong of Namyang Hong Clan. Apparently he was not infatuated with her, since Nakseonjae was built for the concubine Kim.

The elegantly stark buildings of Nakseonjae, Seokbokheon and Sugangjae are arranged from west to east, and long servants' quarters acts as a wall, collectively forming the Nakseonjae area. Silent echoes and historical remains are the only remaining links between modern progressive Korea and the impressive Joseon Dynasty. Legend-laden, they introduce visitors to prominent royal personalities whose lives were filled with romance, tragedy and nostalgia.Nakseonjae continued to be used by the later queens of the Joseon Dynasty. Empress Sunjeonghyo of Haepyeong Yoon Clan, wife of Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui, the last king of the Joseon Dynasty, lived in Seokbokhyeon until her death in 1966. Edward B. Adams describes Queen Yun as "intellectual and poised" in Palaces of Seoul: Yi Dynasty Palaces in Korea's Capital City. As future queen, she took only twenty days to learn about court protocol and the feminine art of how to woo a king. The story of the heroic hardships she bore during the Korean War and the lonely battle she fought with Korea's 1947 government to keep Nakseonjae when the monarchy was abolished portrays her brave and courageous spirit.

Princess Deokhye, the youngest daughter of Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu, the 26th king of the Joseon Dynasty, also resided at Sugangjae. She was taken away to Japan in 1925 at the age of twelve, and forced to marry a Japanese aristocrat in 1928. In 1962 Princess Deokhye was given permission to return to Korea. After suffering from depression, she found peace at Nakseonjae, where she spent her remaining years until 1989.

In her autobiography, "The World is One," Princess Lee Bang-ja (Masako Nashimoto) relates how, as a Japanese princess, she woke up one morning to read in the papers that she was to marry the last crown prince of Korea, Prince Lee Eun, younger half-brother of Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui. Prince Lee's greatest desire was to return to his homeland and in 1963 he settled in at Nakseonjae with his family.

Tragically, Prince Lee's return to Korea was too late. He was an invalid and spent the next seven years in hospital. A few hours before his death on May 1, 1970 the Crown Prince was taken to Nakseonjae. At the age of eighty-two, Princess Bang-ja was still promoting vocational education among the physically handicapped of her adopted country. She passed away in 1989 at Nakseonjae, the building last used in Chandeokgung.

In the garden to the rear of Nakseonjae, the pavilions Chwiunjeong and Sangnyangjeong, and the annex Hanjeongdang are arranged in harmony with the topography. Terraced flowerbeds stabilize the environment and the spaces between the terraces and buildings are filled with stone pots, oddly shaped stones and chimneys. Many books were discovered in 1969 at Nakseonjae's northern quarters, behind Sangnyangjeong. This place is presumably where the residents were allowed to read books and draw paintings, which were kept here.

Inside Changdeokgung, Part IV: Seokbokheon Pavilion

Seokbokheon Pavilion (Hanja: 錫福軒), which means the house of frugality and happiness was built as the residence for Kim Gyeongbin with the hope that she would bear offspring for King Heonjong. "Seokbok" conveys that if the queen rules her home upright, the heavens will bestow her with a crown prince filled with filial piety. The residence was therefore situated between King Heonjong's bedchamber, Nakseonjae, and his grandmother's bedchamber, Sugangjae, so that Kim could wait on the king with his mother at a close distance so as to fulfill her duty well.

Seokbokheon's wooden railings feature calabash carvings symbolizing offspring's prosperity. Ironically, the only child King Heonjong had was by another concubine, Kim Suk-ui. This daughter died in her early years.

Inside Gyeonghuigung, Part V (FINAL): Detailed Content about Gyeonghui Palace

Gyeonghui Palace (Hangul/Hanja/Romanization: 경희궁/慶熙宮/Gyeonghuigung, literally known as Palace of Serene Harmony) was a palace located in 55 Saemunan Avenue/Saemunan-ro (previously known as Saemunan Drive/Saemunan-gil), Sinmunno 2-ga 2-1 beonji, Seoul Jongno-gu, South Korea. It was one of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the Joseon Dynasty and also known as Gyeongdeok Palace (경덕궁/慶德宮/Gyeongdeokgung).

In the latter Joseon period, Gyeonghuigung served as the secondary palace for the king, and as it was situated on the west side of Seoul, it was also called Seogwol/서궐/西闕 (a palace of the west). The Secondary palace is usually the palace where the King moves to in times of emergency.

Gyeonghui Palace was completed after an extended period of construction, during the 12th year of the reign of King Gwanghae (1620). After the Japanese Imjin invasion in 1592, Changdeok Place was used as the residence of the king, while Gyeonghui Palace was used as a detached palace. The palaces were also named according to their geological location: Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung were called the East Palaces, while Gyeonghuigung was called the West Palace. 

From King Injo to King Cheoljong, about ten kings of Joseon dynasty stayed here at Gyeonghuigung. This palace was built using the slanted geography of the surrounding mountain, has traditional beauty in its architecture and a lot of historical significance. For a time, it was of a considerable size, even to the point of having an arched bridge connecting it to Deoksugung palace. For the king’s royal audience, there were the Sungjeongjeon and Jajeongjeon buildings, and for sleeping, Yungbokjeon and Hoesangjeon Halls.

During its heyday, Gyeonghuigung comprised more than 100 halls, most of which were burnt down in two separate conflagrations, one during the 29th year of the reign of King Sunjo (1829) and the other during the 20th year of the reign of Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu. 

Altogether there were about 100 small and large buildings on the palace grounds. But when Japan invaded Korea in 1908, the Japanese school, Gyeongseong Middle School moved into the palace, and as a result much of the palace became leveled or moved. Currently, Gyeonghuigung’s front gate, Heunghwamun, is being used as front gate for Shilla Hotel’s main entrance, and Sungjeongjeon is at Dongguk University. The school moved out to a different area, and the Sungjeongjeon and some of the other buildings have been reconstructed. 

The Japanese completely destroyed Gyeonghuigung during the Japanese occupation period in order to build a school for Japanese citizens. Reconstruction started in the 1990s as part of the South Korean government's initiative to rebuild the "Five Grand Palaces" that were heavily destroyed by the Japanese. However, due to urban growth and decades of neglect, the government was only able to reconstruct around 33% of the former Palace.

Nearby the Gyeonghuigung Palace are the Seoul History Museum, Jeongdong Street, and the busy Jongno Avenue. After you have been to Gyeonghuigung, you can cross to Jeongdong street and walk to Deoksu Palace. The stonewall road to Deoksu palace is considered one of the most elegant roads in Seoul.

Structures Available in this palace
A. Gates
1. Heunghwamun (興化門) - The Main Gate to Gyeonghui Palace

2. Jajeongmun (資政門) - Principal Gate to Jajeongjeon Hall

3. Taeryeongmun (泰寧門) -  Principal Gate to Taeryeongjeon Hall

4. Sungjeongmun (崇政門) - Principal Gate to Sungjeongjeon Hall

B. Halls
1. Jajeongjeon (資政殿)

2. Taeryeongjeon (泰寧殿)

3. Sungjeongjeon (崇政殿)

Structures Absent in this palace
1. Hoesangjeon Hall (회상전/會祥殿)
2. Yungbokjeon Hall (융복전/隆福殿)
3. Jipgyeongdang Residence (집경당)
4. Heungjeongdang Residence (흥정당/興政堂)
5. HeungWonmun (흥원문/興元門)
6. Gaeyangmun (개양문/開陽門)
7. Sunguimun (숭의문/崇義門)
8. Mudeongmun (무덕문/武德門)