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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Gwandeokjeong Pavilion: One of the Oldest Structure in Jeju Island

Gwandeokjeong Pavilion in Jeju (Hanja: 濟州觀德亭) was built by Buddhist Pastor Shin Suk-cheong in 1448 as a training ground. For its historic contribution to strengthening the mind and soul of soldiers ("Gwandeok" literally means an exercise of mind and virtue), Gwangdeokjeong was designated as National Treasure No. 322 in 1963. Today, the pavilion serves as a model of excellence in soldier training. This pavilion is located at 19 Gwandeok Avenue/Gwandeok-ro (known as Gwandeongno in Korean Revised-Romanization), Samdo 2-dong 983-1 beonji in the core island-city of Jeju.

'Gwandeok (관덕/觀德)' means the understanding of virtue and is abstracted from the phrase of 'Sajasoi gwanseongdeog-ya (사자소이관성덕야/射者所以觀盛德也)' in order to follow the right sprits of literary and military arts. It means to try to maintain a good mind and to be a man of virtue at ordinary times. This pavilion was built for the military training center in 1448 (30th year of King Sejong the Great - two years before the demise of the great king) depending upon Tamnaji, one of history books. 

The name Gwandeokjeong is derived from the words 'saigwandeok,' which means “shooting arrows can cultivate mind and body, and also can protect the country when it is in emergency.” On the ridgepoles, there are sophisticated wall paintings including 10 longevity symbols.

It has been repaired many times since the Governor, Yang Chan in 1480, 11th year of King Seongjong. The long eaves of roof were a characteristic but most of eaves were removed by Japanese Government upon repair in 1924. The current building was repaired in 1969 and the original construction method is estimated to be those around 17th century. 

It consists of five rooms in the front and four in the side and the roof is octagonal and its line is similar to a counter-wedge in side view.  The building has all sides open and the column-heads decorate the top of pillars, supporting the eaves in the beautiful wing-like bracketing.It is told that the tablet of the 'Gwandeokjeong' was written by the Grand Prince Anpyeong (안평대군/安平大君), third son of King Sejong the Great. 

This is a representative construction of pavilion in Jeju Island and valuable assets for the research of construction history. The rafter inside building and the wall painting under it whose painter is unknown are being evaluated as quite an excellent piece of work.