This blog may contain not-so-strong languages and slightly strong ecchi pictures. Please proceed with caution.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Inside Gyeongbokgung, Part IV: Donggung Palace Grounds, Official Residence of Crown Prince of Joseon Dynasty

Donggung (Hangul/Hanja: 동궁/東宮) or East Palace of Gyeongbokgung, located south of the Hyangwonjeong pavilion, was the compound where the crown prince and his wife were living. The four main buildings of the compound were Bihyeon-gak Pavilion (丕顯閣) and Jaseondang Hall (資善堂), Chunbang (lecture hall, where the prince got the education preparing him to the throne), as well as Gyebang (the security building).

Nozomi altered Mitsuhide Akechi's Pre-Honnoji Incident Renga (Japanese Collaboration Poetry) and translated it into Korean inside the Joseonese Crown Prince's Study Hall of Bihyeon-gak, Gyeongbok Palace. No wonder that she belongs to Toki-Akechi Clan, same as Mitsuhide.
The Crown Prince's Compound was not built when Gyeongbok Palace was first constructed but was added in 1427 during the reign of King Sejong the Great. The eldest son of King Sejong the Great, King Munjong (r. 1450-1452) - while he was a crown prince, his son (or grandson of King Sejong the Great) who became King Danjong (r. 1452-1455), was born in Jaseondang Hall. In addition, King Munjong planted his own cherry trees inside the palace compound. Those particular trees are no longer alive, but many cherry trees still thrive inside Gyeongbok Palace. After Gyeongbokgung was rebuilt in the late 19th century, Emperor Sunjong-Yunghui of Korean Empire (r. 1907-1910) lived there. 

Jaseondang Hall is the quarters for the Crown Prince, who spent his mornings, afternoons and evenings reading, studying and listening to lectures. But at night he could relax with his wife and his concubines, who were graded into four ranks (the king, of course, had more and they were graded into six ranks). One canny tutor married the Crown Prince off to his daughter and put family members into top government positions.

The cornerstones of Jaseondang, the residence of crown princes of Joseon Dynasty, returned to Korea in 1995 after being moved to Japan during the colonial era but has since been left unattended at a northern corner of the Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul. Access to them was restricted by the Presidential Security Service until November 2012, when the site was permanently opened to the public. However, few people have visited the site as it was not widely known to the public.

The current buildings were rebuilt in 1999; only Jaseondang and Bihyeongak have been restored. To the north of the compound was the royal kitchen.