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Sunday, 2 March 2014

Confucian Confusions in Korea, Part XVII: Yangcheon Hyanggyo, Seoul Gangseo-gu


Yangcheon Hyanggyo (Hanja: 陽川鄕校) is the only Confucian Academy in Seoul - located at 53 Yangcheonno 47na-gil, Gayang 1-dong 234-beonji, Seoul Gangseo-gu, below Mount Gungsan and faces south. It is located in the proximity of Seoul Yangcheon-gu, despite of the different location of the academy in Seoul Gangseo-gu. The area, called Jingyeong Sansu, is known for its beautiful scenery and was once painted by the renowned Korean painter Jeong Seon (1676-1759), also known by his pen name Gyeomjae.  

Yangcheon Hyanggyo was founded in the 11th year of the reign of King Taejong Yi Bang-won (1411), as an institute for the education of classical scholars. But it was officially stripped of its pirmary education function in 1909 and was used only for teaching the ancestral rites performed for ancient Confucian sages. Later, it was combined with the Gimpo Confucian temple and school, but separated again after Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule. The Seoul Hyanggyo Foundation was established in 1965 after the area was incorporated into the city of Seoul.

The Hyanggyo was restored in 1981. The restored complex includes Daeseongjeon, the great sanctuary; Myeongnyundang, a classroom; Dongjae, where students learned literature; and Seojae, which had been previously destroyed. A red gate with a spiked roof, the Hongsalmun, stands at the entrance. To the left of the stairs, leading to Oesammun, the three-door gate, are seonjeongbi, stone tablets that commemorate government officials who governed the country wisely, that were moved here in 1988 during renovation of the memorial tablets of Confucian scholars were moved here during renovation in 1988.

Seoul Metropolitan Government designated the Yangcheon Hyanggyo as 8th Intangible Monument of Seoul since 1990. The city celebrated the Yangcheon Hyanggyo 600th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremony on June 13th, 2010. This Hyanggyo is accessible by using Seoul Metro 9 to Station 906: Yangcheon Hyanggyo Station.