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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Confucian Confusions in Korea, Part XXI: Gwacheon Hyanggyo, Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province

Korean-translated Nobunaga's Atsumori is here!
Gwacheon Hyanggyo (Hanja: 果川鄕校) in 18 Jahadong Alley/Jahadong-gil, JungAng-dong 81-beonji, Gwacheon City, Gyeonggi Province was originally built on the foot of Mt. Gwanak in 1398 in the 7th year of King Taejo Yi Seong-gye of Joseon Dynasty, but it was moved and reconstructed to the present location in 1689 (16th Reigning Year of King Sukjong) after several fires and for the number of students was decreased. It was called Siheung Hyanggyo (시흥향교/始興鄕校) as it was once included in Siheung County (1959), and restored its original name Gwacheon Hyanggyo in 1996 by the approval of National Confucian Academy, based on the location in Gwacheon City.

This Confucian school was first established in Gwacheon in 1398 by Yeol, a follower of the High Priest Muhak-daesa. It was burnt down in 1400 and later reconstructed. It was destroyed during the Japanese Imjin Invasions of 1592-98, rebuilt, and destroyed again during the Chinese-Qing Byeongja Invasions in 1636-37. It was once again reconstructed sometime in the early 17th century and moved here in 1690 by the chief officer of Gwacheon. Of the remaining structures, the Daeseongjeon and Myeongnyundang halls are the most important. The Myeongnyundang is where local students were taught Confucianism and the Daeseongjeon is where memorial rituals were held annually to honor five great Confucian sages. 

Like most hyanggyo built on a sloped surface, the shrine building is higher than the study hall. On level land the configuration is generally reversed, with the shrine coming first to indicate its importance. Gwacheon Hyanggyo played its role as a starting point of hiking path to Yeonjudae Hermitage and Mount Gwanak. It becomes as the Gyeonggi Provincial Cultural Material No. 9.