Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gyeongbokgung Palace

This past weekend I went on up to Seoul again.

It was probably one of the best weekends to go.  The weather on Saturday was gorgeous.  It was warm, the sun was shining, and there was lots to see.

I met up with MY at the subway stop by the Seoul Bus Terminal.  We took the subway on up to Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Our Tickets
Getting artsy.
This palace was originally built in 1394 by King Taejo.  He was the first king of the last Korean dynasty - The Joseon Dynasty.  There were twenty-seven rulers from that dynasty.  They lasted from 1392-1910.  They were the ones that brought Confucianism to Korea and also made sure Korea earned the nickname 'The Hermit Kingdom'.

This palace was a wonder to behold.  It was the largest of the 'Five Grand Palaces' built by the Joseon Dynasty.

Unfortunately, the Japanese and luck had something against this palace.

In 1553 it was severely damaged by fire, but they rebuilt it the next year.

Then, during the Japanese Invasions of Korea (1592-1598) the entire palace was burnt to the ground.

It was left that way for the next three centuries.

Then, in 1867, the palace was rebuilt.  It contained 330 buildings and 5,792 rooms.

The royal family lived there until 1895 when Empress Myeongseong was assassinated by the Japanese.

The royal family has never returned.

So, this huge palace was sitting relatively empty when the Japanese invaded in 1910.

By 1911 they started their second attempt to destroy the palace.  Of the 330 buildings, they demolished 320.  Then they started throwing exhibitions and such on the now empty grounds.

Then, in 1926, the Japanese added insult to injury and built the Japanese General Government Building in front of the throne hall.  This was done to erase the symbol and heritage of the Joseon Dynasty.  They even picked up the main gate and moved it from the south side of the grounds to the east.

During the Korean war that poor gate got destroyed.

Only 7 of the 330 original buildings survived the Japanese Occupation and the Korean war, the most important being the Imperial Throne Hall.

And that's how it stayed until 1989; when the South Korean government started a 40-year plan to rebuild the palace to be as historically accurate as possible.

In 1995 the Japanese General Government Building was demolished after many controversial arguments about it's fate.

Back in 2009 they figured that they had about 40% of the palace rebuilt.  I spent over an hour walking over most of that 40%.  I can only imagine what the place will be like in about twenty years when it's finished.
Changing of the Guard
The Imperial Throne Room
More private meeting room.
The ceiling
Private Room
Current Map
Old Map/Painting
That blue roof in the background is the Blue House where the South Korean President lives and works.
Pleasure Pavilion
This tree has gravity issues.

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