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Sunday, 16 March 2014

Inside Changgyeonggung, Part V: Munjeongjeon Hall - Seat of the Joseonese Royal Council


Munjeongjeon Hall (Hanja: 文政殿) is a council hall where the king dealt with routine state affairs. Unlike the throne hall, which faces east, this building faces south. Such a palace layout with a secondary structure facing a different direction than a throne hall is highly unusual in Korea. Munjeongjeon was also used to enshrine royal tablets after funerals. It was dismantled during the Japanese occupation. Munjeongjeon as it stands today was restored in 1986 along with Munjeongjeon Gate and the eastern part of the roofed corridor. According to the nineteenth-century "Painting of the Eastern Palace", Munjeongjeon was partitioned from Sungmundang and Myeongjeongjeon by a wall, and had a small annex; the courtyard was surrounded by a wall-like corridor. This part has not yet been restored.

It was confirmed through the excavation in 1984 that the original building stood on a base 20 meters north to south and 18 meters west to east and the base had two stairs in its east and west sides. The restored Munjeongjeon hall is 3 kan wide and as many kan deep, and has square columns and multi-cluster brackets on the column tops.

The single-story building with a hipped-and-gabled roof with double-tiered eaves is 125.4 square meters in floor space and faces the south. The two-tiered flower terrace was built on the sloping terrain to the west of this building, and Munjeongmun gate was erected in the east.

The original Munjeongjeon was built in 1484 by King Seongjong and burnt down during the Japanese Imjin Invasion in 1592 to be rebuilt in 1616 during the reign of King Gwanghae. Judging from Joseonchongdokbu/조선총독부 Vol. X, published by the Japanese government-general in 1930, showed the east side of Munjeongjeon, the building must have survived until that year.