Palaces in SEOUL (Part 3)

This time I am going to continue introducing you to the “Five Grand Palaces of Seoul.” One of the most unusual places that you can visit in Seoul that is meant to represent Korean traditions and culture is the Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁). It is can be easily distinguished from the other four palaces because of its modern approach. The area of Deoksugung palace can be a reminder of the Western culture and can make you feel at home if you are from Europe. Deoksugung palace has not only a contemporary seal engraving but also large western style garden and fountains. The medieval Korean culture and modern style live together in harmony offering a great chance to enjoy a picturesque diversity.

Just like all the other palaces, Deoksugung was built during the period of Joseon Dynasty (조선왕조). The palace was inhibited by Korean royalties until the 20th century and the beginning of the colonial era. Unfortunately, the palace was heavily destroyed during the two wars that both involved Japanese invasion and nowadays only comprises about one third of its prime architecture that was observable at the golden age of Joseon Era.

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Upon arriving at Deoksugung Palace and Daehanmun (대한문), guests will cross the extensive bridge of Geumcheon (금천교). During the ancient times, king’s carriage would always cross this bridge. The fact that the bridge is still operating and also opened for the general public, gives visitors a great opportunity to experience and feel how the life of kings was in the ancient period of Korea. One of the most famous building of the Deoksugung is the Jeukjodang (죽조당) Building which received its name from Gwanghaegun (광해군) and In-Jo (인조), who both rose to their throne in this palace. The front sign on Jeukjodang was written personally by Go Jong in 1905 after he received his title of a king. Hamnyeongjeon (함영전) building was where the kings used to sleep. However, Hamnyeong was named after a request of Go Jong (고종) and it represents his resting place. The East Wing had always been utilized as the king’s bedroom and office, while the west wing was for the queen. Jeonggwanheon (정관헌) was the first western style building built in the palace, completed in 1900. Go Jong enjoyed drinking coffee and spending his free time here. The back of the building had secret passageways to the Russian Emissary, which still exist today.

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The Western part of the palace was being built by a request of a British official who then used the palace as his home when he was visiting Korea. However, after the Japanese military invasion in the 20th century, the palace was closed for the visiting officials but opened as an art gallery that was available for the general public. After Korea regained independence the east wing of Seokjogwan (석조관) building was rebuilt and nowadays serves as a palace treasure exhibition, and the west wing is used as part of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea Center (국립현대미술관 덕수궁관).

Deoksugung Palace is located at the city centre and it is easy to get there. You just need to take Seoul Subway Line 1 or 2 and take exit 2 at the City Hall stop (시청역).


Article by Zanda from the U.K.

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