Ibike Korea People-to-People Program



Photo essay: Gyeongbokgung Walking Tour



  Gwanghwamun (gate), Gyeongbokgung (palace), Seoul Gyeongbokgung (palace), SeoulGyeongbokgung, built in 1395, was the primary palace of the Joseon Dynasty.  While it has a resemblance to the Forbidden City in Beijing, much of it has been destroyed.  It was never as large as the Forbidden City because Korea was generally subservient to China and had to show deference. This is Gwanghwamun (gate) and the palace wall.
  changing of the guard ceremony, Gyeongbokgung Drum, changing of the guard ceremony, Gyeongbokgung changing of the guard ceremony, GyeongbokgungDuring the day, weather permitting, there are ceremonies for the opening and closing of the palace gates, and twelve, hourly Changing-of- the-Gate-Guards, with several variations.

Changing of the Guard, Gyeongbokgung, SeoulWhen the guards are in position they are happy to stoically pose for pictures with the tourists -- individuals or groups.  There is no one keeping order for this process so if there are a lot of tourists it can be very competitive to be the next person saddled up to the guard for the photo-op.

The chart (right) shows the various ranks and their respective uniforms and positioning in ceremonies.  The ceremony was first fully established in 1469.  The ceremony reenacted today has been revived in accord uniforms, weaponry and formalities customary in the early Joseon, in the 15th century.

  Heungnyemun (gate), Gyeongbokgung (Palace), Seoul Heungnyemun (gate), Gyeongbokgung (Palace).  In front of the gate is a stone bridge over a stream. A stream flowing through a palace is regarded as divine water carrying the spirit of nature. Crossing over the waterway protects people from evil spirits.
  Heungnyemun (gate), Gyeongbokgung (Palace), Seoul Geunjeongmun (Gate), Gyeongbokgung (Palace).  Through each gate and leading between the gates there were three paths.  Only the king could use the middle roadway.  On special occasions the military (to the left) and civil servants (to the right) would line up in front of the gate to pay their respects to the king as he passed.  The posts indicate where each rank is to stand.
  Geunjeongjeon, Gyeongbokgung, Seoul

Interior of Geunjeongjeon, Gyeongbokgung

Interior of Geunjeongjeon, GyeongbokgungGeunjeongjeon, considered the greatest building of Joseon architecture. It is the main building of Gyeongbokgung.  It is the place where ceremonies of the state, such as new year's greetings to the king by civil and military officials, were held, and where foreign envoys were received.  It is believed to be in a very auspicious location; surrounded by four mountains and with a stream running through the grounds.  Behind the throne (right) is a picture showing a red sun and a white moon, above five mountains, a waterfall and the ocean (the realm) and pine trees (a sacred tree).  This is the symbol of the emperor  and it traveled with the him.  The sun and the moon in particular represent all of nature (yang and ying), and the king and queen, respectively.

On the ceiling (right) is a watchful gold dragon, another symbol of the emperor.  He was also likenedInterior of Geunjeongjeon, Gyeongbokgung to a dragon.

  Korean zodiac guard the palace, Gyeonghoeru, Gyeongbokgung Symbols of the Korean zodiac guard the palace.  These posts feature monkeys and roosters.  The Korean zodiac is probably derived from the Chinese zodiac.  According to legend, the Jade Emperor invited the animals of his kingdom to enter a race through the countryside.  The first 12 to finish the long race would each rule over one year every 12 years.  The 12 animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.  Each zodiac animal brings it own personality and characteristics to the year.
  Interior of Sajeongjeon, the royal office, Gyeongbokgung. Interior of Sajeongjeon, the royal office, Gyeongbokgung. Interior of Sajeongjeon, the royal office, Gyeongbokgung.The interior of Sajeongjeon, the royal office, Gyeongbokgung, is furnished with the royal throne and royal screen depicting five mountains (left). To the right are the reading tables, document boxes and other furniture. The lower photo features the incense burner, with the throne, lanterns, candlestick, reading tables and other furniture in the background.
  Gyeonghoeru banquet pavillion Gyeonghoeru banquet pavillionGyeonghoeru pavillion is where official banquets were held and foreign envoys were entertained.  King Taejong dug the pond and the pavillion was built in 1412.
  Figures guard the building. Gyeongbokgung Figures guard the building at Gyeongbokgung.  There is always an odd number, and the more the number of figures, the more important the building.
  Ondol system, Gyeongbokgung The vent at the base of the building and the chimneys to the left are for the 'ondol', under-floor heating system.  In Korea, ondol was developed 6,000 years ago by peasants. Over time it was improved and in common use by all social classes by 2000 years ago.  It is still used to this day. Romans used hypocaust, under floor heating ducts, in the early C.E., but these disappeared. In the 11th C. fireplaces were in use in European culture, but they allowed about 80% of the heat to escape. Central hot air and steam heat returned to Western culture in the late 18th C.
  Sajeongjeon, Gyeongbokgung Sajeongjeon, GyeongbokgungSajeongjeon was used as the King's office along with Manchunjeon to the east and Cheonchujeon to the west -- yin and yang. One was for winter meetings (ondol heated floor) and one for summer meetings.
    Gangnyeongjeon, the king's residence: In both wings of this building there are nine rooms arranged in a 3x3 pattern. The central room was where the king slept and the surrounding eight rooms were where the court ladies kept night watch. There are Yeonsaengjeon, the eastern bed chamber and Gyeonseongjeon, the western bed chamber and Yeongildang and Eungjidang as an annex. Different rooms were used in different seasons. Above the door, reading from right to left, the characters are for 'think government hall'.
  Chimney in the queen's garden, Gyotaejeon, Gyeongbokgung Chimney in the queen's garden, Gyotaejeon, Gyeongbokgung Four levels of the queen's garden, Gyotaejeon, GyeongbokgungGyotaejeon, the queen's residence building has a wooden floor hall in the center, with ondol rooms on each side of it. The present building was restored in 1994. The queen could look out of the window in the back the building onto a garden: There are four terraces in the garden, one for each season. The chimneys are part of the traditional ondol heating system for the buildings. The orange brick is for women.

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