Deoksugung Palace is one of five royal palaces remained in Seoul. Mainly built at the term of the 20th century, Deoksugung Palace is the smallest of Seoul’s palaces. The name Deoksugung Palace means “Palace of virtue and longevity” in the spirit of praying for long life for Emperor Gojong.
Located at the corner of Seoul’s busiest downtown intersection, Deoksugung Palace is famous for its elegant stone-wall road. It is also the only palace that sits alongside a series of western style buildings that add to the uniqueness of the surrounding scenery.
Deoksugung Palace is virtually two palaces in one-a Korean traditional complex blessed with numerous examples of late-Joseon palace architecture, and a Western-style palace complex comple with two imposing neoclassical structures and Korea’s first Western-style garden.
Scenery of Deoksugung Palace
History of Deoksugung Palace
This is one of the five palaces of Korea’s last dynasty, the Joseon Dynasty, which lasted for over 500 years from 1392 until 1910. The dynasty had two critical moments: one the end of the 16th century, and the other at the end of the 19th century. Both of them were related to this palace and to Japanese invasion coincidentally.
In 1592, the Japanese army landed in Busan and marched to the capital, Seoul. Prior to their arrival, King Seonjo fled to Uiju, where he stayed for one and a half years. When he returned to Seoul, he had no place to stay because all of the palaces had been burned down during the war. So, he used this place, which was originally the residence of one of his relative’s families, as a temporary palace.
Prince Gwanghaegun succeeded King Seonjo and then renamed this place “Hyeongungung Palace”. After he was overthrown by King Injo, it was not used for about 270 years.
The palace re-entered the annals of history in the late 19th century. After King Gojong returned from the refuge with Russian legation, he chose to reside in this palace. He renamed this palace “Gyeongungung Palace” and expanded it. He also proclamed to the world the establishment of the Daehan Empire and raised his own status from king to that of an emperor. He remained at the palace even after he had been forced to hand over the throne to his son, Emperor Sunjong. The name of the palace was changed at this time to Deoksugung Palace, meaning the “Palace of virtuous longevity.” In 1910, the official Japanese colonization of the Daehan Empire was completed. In 1919, Gojong passed away. His sudden death was one of the causes of the March 1st Independence movement.
Under the colonial rule of Japan, the palace was converted into a public park by Japan. The scale of Deoksugung Palace was decreased to one-third its original size, and the number of buildings reduced to just one-tenth.
Daehanmun is the main gate of Deoksugung. Originally, the main gate of Gyeongun Palace was Inhwamun, located across from Junghwamun, south of Deoksugung. After the fire in 1904, Junghwajeon and other buildings were rebuilt in 1906, and on April 25, the east side of the palace was renamed Daehanmun and made it the main gate of the palace. The current Daehanmun Gate, which is moving toward the plaza in front of the City Hall, has been moved several times due to frequent road expansion. It is said that the original location was at the center line of Taepyeong-ro. Daehanmun has a multi-pocketed woojin-gak roof on the plane of 3 spaces in front and 2 spaces on the side. Daehanmun is a single layer with a Gyeonghuigung's front gate heunghwamun. The base and stairs are now buried, and the cuffstones have been exposed separately.
Junghwajeon Hall is the main hall of Deoksugung palace. It was the hall in which state affairs were conducted, official meeting held, and foreign envoys received. Originally a two-story building, it was rebuilt in 1906 as an one-story building.
The Woldae, where the Junghwajeon was built, consists of upper and lower decks, and the Hawoldae consists of three stages. When it was first built in 1902, it was originally several floors, but it was rebuilt as a fault in 1906 due to a fire in 1904. Eojwa is placed in front of the tugaggogbyeong and Ilwol Oak picture folding screen, and Pumgye-seok is erected in the stone yard, which shows the position and location of the Munmu White House. Originally, there was a corridor around Junghwajeon, but it was demolished during the Japanese colonial period, and a part of it remains in the east side of Junghwamun.
Junghwamun, which was reconstructed along with Junghwajeon, is the main gate of Gyeongun Palace and the main gate of Junghwajeon. It is a scale of three spaces in the front and two spaces on the side of the base with a pole, and panmuns are attached to all three columns in the center row.
Junghwamun was built on stone steps wide and gentle enough to cover the front of the building. The middle door is taller than the door on the left and right, and above the door is decorated with punghyeong hongsal. Although a single layer although the height of the pillar is high chiseled, was designed so that the dignity of junghwajeon appeared through the door. Structure is a type pogye salmi cheomcha are catching up with each other, the inside is carved ungong format and is paljak roof.
Hamnyeongjeon Hall is a wooden building built in 1897. It has 9 spaces in the front, 4 spaces on the side, and 4 more spaces in the rear, is in the form of 'ㄱ'.
This is the building where King Gojong lived after King Gojong handed over the throne and then Sunjong moved to Changdeokgung Palace. To the south of Hamnyeongjeon is Haenggak, Chijungmun and Bongyangmun, and the main gate is Gwangmyeongmun.
This building, connected by a corridor to Junmyeongdang, is known as the place where the 15th Gwanghaegun and the 16th King Injo were crowned. It was used as the main hall right after returning to Gojong's Deoksugung Palace in 1897. In 1904, the building was rebuilt with Seokeodang and Joonmyeongdang, which was destroyed by fire, in September 1905, a signboard was hung and completely rebuilt.
Junmyeongdang was rebuilt after a fire in 1904. The original Joonmyeongdang was a building with six roofs in front and four on the side. It was one of the new civil wars built in 1897. It was once the residence of King Gojong to meet foreign envoys. Later, the portraits of King Gojong and Sunjong were sealed.
Junmyeongdang has been added to the west and north, and four ondol rooms are added to the rear to form an overall 'ㄴ'-shaped plane.
Seogeodang is the only two-story house built in the palace, excluding the entire pavilion. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1904 (Gwangmu 8), and the original building was built in the 26th year of Seonjo (1593). It is a place where the Inmokdaebi was once confined, and it is also a place where successive kings remembered the difficult days of the Imjin War and commemorated the ancestors.
Seogeodang has 8 spaces in the front and 3 spaces in the side, and the upper floor is the Ujingak roof of the Guldori house with 6 spaces in the front and 1 space in the side. The stairs leading up to the second floor were installed in the space at the west end, and the second floor was composed of a large space without partitions, and windows were placed in all directions. Even though it is a building inside the palace, it has no pretense, and it is simple and unpretentious, giving a feeling of familiarity.
Deokhongjeon Hall, built in 1911, was the last of the existing halls in Deoksugung Palace, and was the place where distinguished guests from inside and outside met the emperor. It is in the west of Hamnyeongjeon. The base is stacked with a three-stage roof with three front and four sides with a three-tiered jangdaeseok, and a concise wing ball is placed on the proper height of the pillar to receive the eaves.
Gwangmyeongmun is the south gate of Hamnyeongjeon. In 1904, Hamnyeongjeon was burned down in a fire, leaving only the gate, and it was moved to the southwest of Junghwamun during the Japanese colonial period.
On March 1, 2019, a completion ceremony was held after the relocation to its original location in the south of Hamnyeongjeon was completed.
Jeong Gwanheon, a western-style pavilion with oriental elements, was built around 1900. This is the place where Gojong listened to music while holding refreshments, and at one time, it was also a place where the spirit of King Taejo, Gojong, and obedience were enshrined. It is a building that is woven like a masonry wall made of bricks, with stone pillars built around it, and wrapped around thin wooden pillars outside the building. It is said that between the back of Deokhongjeon and Jeong Gwanheon, there was a small, small patronage, and there was a door that used to lead to the Russian legation.
The Seokjojeon Hall is a grand 3-story stone building with a 54m front and 31m width. Built during the Korean Empire, it is the oldest neoclassical stone building in Korea.
It was designed by Englishman J. R. Harding at the recommendation of Brown, a general tax accountant. Eui-Seok Shim (Korean), Sabatin (Russian), Ogawa (Japanese), Davidson (British), etc. supervised the construction and began construction in 1900 and completed in 1909. It is a so-called colonial-style building with Greek architecture as a model and a Renaissance style, and buildings of the same shape have been built in various places in the British colonies after the 18th century.
Emperor Gojong of the Korean Empire was built for the purpose of using it as an office and a reception room for foreign envoys. It was designed by Harding, an Englishman, and a Western-style garden and fountain were built during the same period. After liberation, Seokjojeon was also used as a national museum, and there was an exhibition hall for royal relics, but it was moved to the site of Gyeongbokgung Palace. After the restoration work was completed in 2014, the Seokjojeon Hall was opened as the Korean Empire History Museum on October 13th.
The Seokjojeon West Building was built in 1937 by Yoshihei Nakamura as the Iwangga Museum of Art. Leaving only the stone structure was repaired to South Korea during the war fire in 1950 destroyed the whole 1953, while later used as the National Museum of Contemporary Art is that after the transfer of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon used as a branch of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Deoksugung.
Outside Pyeongseongmun, there is a two-story Western-style building that was used as a reception room or banquet hall, and there was Jungmyeongjeon Hall, where the Eulsa Treaty was signed. The entire building around this area was also called Suokheon. As the building became privately owned and used for offices, it was severely damaged, but restoration work was completed in 2010.
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