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Friday, 21 February 2014

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)