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Monday, 17 March 2014

Inside Changgyeonggung, Part VI: Honghwamun Gate - Main Gate to Changgyeong Palace

Honghwamun (Hanja: 弘化門) is the main gate of Changgyeong Palace, faces east as is Myeongjeongjeon Hall, the main building of the palace. This gate is believed to have been first built in the 15th year of the reign of King Seongjong (1484) and then burnt down during the Japanese Imjin Invasion of 1592 and rebuilt in the eighth year of the reign of King Gwanghae (1616). 

This is typical of the early Joseon architecture, featuring a two-story pavilion 3 kan wide and 2 kan deep (a kan is a traditional word of length between two columns showing different dimension according to the period), and multi-brackets atop the columns. There are three wood plank doors in the front and crimson arrow-like ornaments above the doors There is a flight of stairs in the northern part of the structure leading to the second story. The second story is wood floored and the ceiling structure is visible from the floor. Walls extend from the gate. A ball pavilion (sipjagak) was built on either side of this two-tiered wooden gate. 

As you pass through the gate, Okcheongyo Bridge comes into view. Between the arches under the bridge's parapet are carved goblins (dokkaebi) that are intended to ward off evil spirits. Okcheongyo Bridge was built approximately 500 years ago and serves as a symbolic entry to the courtyard. Honghwamun is designated as National Treasure 384.