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Sunday, 23 February 2014

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.