Category Archives: Korean Wold Heritage



Gyeonghuigung Palace was completed after an extended period of construction, during the 12th year of the reign of Gwanghaegun (1620). After the Japanese invasion in 1592, Changdeokgung Place was used as the residence of the king, while Gyeonghuigung Palace was used as a detached palace. The palaces were also named according to their geological location: Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung were called the East Palaces, while Gyeonghuigung was called the West Palace. During its heyday, Gyeonghuigung comprised more than 100 halls, most of which were burnt down in two separate conflagrations, one during the 29th year of the reign of King Sunjo (1829) and the other during the 20th year of the reign of King Gojong. The remaining halls also faced similar fates, as the Japanese colonialists demolished most of them to build schools to educate their children. After the national liberation in 1946, Seoul High School was built on the site, where it remained until 1978. In 1985, several buildings including Sungjeongjeon Hall were restored.

Heunghwamun Gate

Heunghwamun was the main gate of Gyeonghuigung Palace. Originally, it was situated just next to the current Salvation Army Center, facing the direction of Jongno Avenue. When the adjacent road was expanded in 1915, the gate was sold and installed as the main gate of Bakmunsa (now the site of the Shilla Hotel), a shrine dedicated to Ito Hirobumi, the Japanese resident-general. Heunghwamun was restored and moved to the current site in 1985.

Sungjeongjeon Hall

Sungjeongjeon, the main hall of Gyeonghuigung Palace, was moved into Jogyesa Temple to avoid harm by Japanese in 1926. It now serves as the Jeonggakwon (Hall of Righteous Enlightenment) of Donguk University. Due to it is too old to move again into old spots, Korea government reconstructed as it was from 1989 at the old site.



1.The Geonchunmun (Gate)

This is the east gate of the Gyeongbokgung palace. Its name, literally “promoting spring”, originates in the ancient belief that the east corresponds with spring. A high stone foundation was constructed with an arch-shaped gate in the center. The arch is 16.5 Ja high and 15 Ja wide according to the linear measure used during the Joseon period.

A tower rests on the foundation. It is divided into three sections, the central one being the largest with 17 Ja and the right and left ones measuring 8 Ja each for a total of 33 Ja in width. The pillars are 8 Ja high. A similar gates were constructed in the west, called Yeongchumun, and in the north, called Sinmumun.

(1) Substructure and Staircase of Geonchunmun (Gate)

Its structure is as follows: the substructure was constructed higher than that of a palace wall. The gate is pierced through by an arch, topped with a tower. When necessary, sentinels climbed up to the tower. They utilized stone staircases, one at the right and the other at left. The staircases incline so steeply that one feels as if he were climbing a ladder. However, railings are installed in consideration of safety.

Leaving the staircase, one reaches a side entrance which is connected with a wall along the edges of the substructure.

(2) Dragon painting on the Ceiling of Geonchunmun (Gate)

Clouds and dragons are drawn in this painting with five colors-blue, red, white, yellow, and black. The Blue Dragon is placed in the east and the Yellow Dragon in the west. Each has five claws and a magic ball in the mouth, which symbolize king.


2.The Geunjeongjeon (Hall)

Geunjeongjeon is the main hall of Gyeongbokgung palace. Kings conducted state affairs, held official functions, and received foreign envoys here. High ranking officials, including military officers, assembled in this court to pay highest respect to their kings. From 1399-1546, seven of twelve kings were enthroned here: Jeongjong, Sejong, Danjong, Sejo, Seongjong, Jungjong, and Myeongjong.

This hall was built in 1394, in the third year of the reign of King Taejo. It was burned down during the Japanese aggression of 1592 and rebuilt in 1867, the fourth year of the reign of King Gojong.

The throne is centered toward the back of the hall. There were ritual objects there, but none remain. The building is a high-ceilinged, structure with a single room.

Formerly there were three consecutive gates south of the entrance, between Geunjeongjeon and the city. Geunjeonmun can be seen in the center of the south corridor. Heungnyemun was torn down to make way for the capital. Gwanghwamun is in the outer wall of the palace, in front of the capital(now being renovated for the new National Museum of Korea). An impressive view of the harmony created between Geunjeongjeon and Bugaksan, the mountain beyond, can be seen from the second pillar from the east end of the south corridor.(National Treasure No.223)

(1) The Inside and Ceiling of Geunjeongjeon Hall

The hall is single-storeyed. Standing on the tiled floor, one can look up at the recessed ceiling. The height of the ceiling and pillars around the hall is imposing, as if to symbolize royal authority. A wooden canopy is located over the throne, The hall once been filled with ceremonial facilities and instruments designed to enhance the dignity of the king sitting on the throne. The throne is the architectural climax of this building.

The latticed ceiling is high up above the floor. It is decorated with traditional Dancheong coloring. A pair of dragons in the clouds struggling for a jeweled ball is carved on the recessed portion in the center of the ceiling. Dragons symbolized kings

(2) Stone Foundations of Geunjeongjeon Hall

The stone foundations, double-tiered in this case, were constructed for the purpose of elevating the Geunjeongjeon hall. The foundations are really broad. The hall was constructed on a layer of stones placed above the stone foundations. Its front court is far broader than the rear court. From the front court, one can command a broad view of the palace. The stone railings are conspicuously lower than the hall itself in consideration of drainage. The location of the Geunjeongjeon hall was a result of a precise calculation. Thorough calculation was needed to divide the palace effectively.

There is a stepping path in the center of the southern side of the stone foundations supporting the Geunjeongjeon hall. There is a narrow stairway on both sides which are capped with big stone covers.

The stone cover is in the shape of a Haetae lying long and flat on its belly. Inscribed on the stepping path is a phoenix with a magic ball in its beak playing in the cloud. The imagiary bird symbolizes the high status of royalty. An arabesque design is carved on the whole surface of the stairway flanking the stepping path. These inscriptions imply that the people lived with royalty above while animals capable of expelling evils like Haetae protected them.


3.The Geunjeongmun (Gate)

Passing by the Gwanghwamun gate, a visitor arrived at the Heungnyemun gate in the center. He was then led to the Yeongjegyo bridge. All these structures were lost when the government-general building was constructed. Remaining now are the Geunjeongjeon hall block and the Geunjeongmun gate.

The two-storey gate usually was closed. Civil and military officials entered the Geunjeongjeon court through the Ilhwamun gate in the east and the Wolhwamun gate in the west.

4.The Sajeongjeon (Hall)

In Sajeongjeon hall, kings carried out daily kingdom affairs. It stands on a three-tiered granite base, 5 kan wide and 3 kan deep. The columns have multi-clustered brackets, the eaves are two-tiered, and the roofs are hipped-and-gabled.

Manchunjeon hall was located to the east of Sajeongjeon hall, and Cheonchujeon hall is to the west. Sajeongmun gate is to the south, Jonghyeonmun gate in the west passageway.

5.Manchunjeon (Hall)

Manchunjeon Hall, which is of the same size and shape as Cheonchujeon Hall, stands to the west of Sajeongjeon Hall. It was destoroyed during the Korean War(1950-1953) and its plinths alone remained on the site. The Hall was rebuilt in 1988. Compared with Sajeongjeon Hall, the architectural method and style of Manchunjeon Hall are simple and restrained.

6.The Cheonchujeon (Hall)

This hall is located west of the Sajeongjeon hall. The hall was constructed to be symmetrical with the Manchunjeon hall in the east and with the Sajeongjeon hall in the center. It was reconstructed together with the Sajeongjeon hall in the fourth year of King Gojong(1867). The Cheonchujeon before the Japanese invasion in the 16th century served as a cradle of Korean culture. King Sejong utilized this building mainly when he discussed various cultural projects with scholars of the Jiphyeonjeon.The Cheonchujeon hall is a small building whose front side measures not more than 24 kan. Its pillars are 9 Ja high, compared with the pillars of the Sajeongjeon hall which are 15 Ja high. This hall followed a simple style in consideration of the fact that the bracket structures of the latter consist of seven inner and five outer structures.

7.The Sujeongjeon

King Sejong constructed the Borugak and the Heumjeonggak south of the Gyeonghoeru and west of the Cheonchujeon. He also built the Jiphyeonjeon. On the site where these buildings were located, King Gojong constructed the Sujeongjeon hall in 1867 after they were burnt during the Japanese invasion in the 16th century. This is the largest among Gyeongbokgung palace buildings in the private quarters that are extant. It is 40 square kan. Its eastern corridor is 13 kan long and its western corridor is 9 kan long.

It was once used as the Office of Gungukgimucheo during the Daehan Empire period. After 1895, it was used as the cabinet office. In the neighborhood, there were many small buildings to accommodate guests, messengers, censors, a dispensary, medical officers, etc. But they were all demolished, and the only Sajeongjeon remains.

8.The Gyeonghoeru

King Taejo, founder of the Joseon kingdom and builder of Gyeongbokgung palace, had this pavilion erected in this man-made lake in the western section of the palace. He named it Gyeonghoeru, or pavilion of Joyous Meeting. It is now the largest elevated pavilion in Korea. King Taejong(r.1400-1418)commissioned Park Ja-cheong to supervise construction on the pavilion and the lake. Minister Park built a square island supported by long stones and construct the larger pavilion. Forty-eight stone pillars, sculptured with dragons, supported the second floor.

Two more islets were made in it. During the Japanese aggression in 1592, the original Gyeonghoeru was burned down, leaving only the stone supports. When Gyoengbokgung was built in 1867, the fourth year of the reign of King Gojong, the pavilion was reconstructed. The pillars were replaced by new ones that lack the splendor of the former. But animals were carved on the stone bridges and railings. There are such stone structures as the Lotus Pond, Lotus Platform, and dragon-shaped conduits along the lake. This pavilion was used for royal banquets during the Joseon period and is used today for special functions.(National Treasure No.224)

(1) Fire-Eaters in Gyeonghoeru

It was believed in the old days that there was a beast which engulfed fire. It resembled an elephant but possessed many features that caused it to be reversed as a deity.

The most dreadful thing for a wooden building is fire. The revered beast was called a Bulgsari. The animal was erected on the stone railings to defend the Gyeonghoeru from any approaching flames. It was perhaps due to the protection of the Bulgasari that the Gyeonghoeru remained intact throughout heavy artillery fire during Korean War. Though struck by the splinters, the animal kept the edifice from a disaster. There are images of various other auspicious animals along the stone bridges.

(2) The Square Pond of the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion

Located to the west of the Chimjeon in which the royal couple led their life, the square pond of the Gyeonghoeru pavilion was made for the purpose of holding a party, enjoying boating, and greeting foreign emissaries visiting the country. The pond is 113m wide and 128m long. There are also three round islands in it. The easternmost and largest of them is connected with the land by three beautiful stone bridges to the grand Gyeonghoeru pavilion. The water of the pond springs up from the underground, and the water from the pond of Hyangwonji flows into the pond through the dragon headed waterway on the eastern bank of the pond, which looks a fall. There is another waterway in the shape of a dragonhead on the northern bank.

According to an ancient chronicle recorded in 1506, to the west of the pond, was the mound of Mansesan with many beautiful flowers and small replicas symbolic of palaces, including Bongnaegung, Ilgung, Wolgung, and Byeogungung, decorated with gold, silver, and silk. The king enjoyed boating on the boat called Hwangyongju in the pond with lotus flowers and coral in it. Sometimes candle lamps in shape of flowers and animals which were decorated with gold and silver, floated on the water in the pond, and incense fires made the pond ad bright as day even at night. To the west and the north of the pond, there were zelkova trees and pinetrees. The square pond of the Gyeonghoeru pavilion is representative of the garden pond constructed in the Joseon kingdom in beautiful, scale, and landscape.


9. The Amisan (Mound)


This is a beautiful rear garden that belonged to the Gyotaejeon or queen’s residence. “Amisan” was named after a famous mountain in China, but it’s not, in fact, a mountain. It is a mound made up of long rectangular stones. It has four-storyed flower terraces in the south. There are fantastic stones, square stone ponds, troughs in shape of a lotus, solar clock stands, a stone structure on the stand in the shape of a turtle, chimneys with floral patterns etc. Peonies, royal azaleas, pine trees, cherrys, etc., are also found on the terraces, and on the upper part, there are pear, mulberry, and zelkova trees, etc.

Built in the flower terraces of the Amisan, the hexagonal chimneys belonged to the Gyotaejeon, or queen’s residence, in front of it. They are some 2.6m high, except for the height of the roof, and about 88cm wide in each side. Every chimney has a smoke-emitting house on the roof. The upper part of the chimneys is decorated with an arabesque design and below bricks decorated with a dragon, crane, bat, and so on are inserted. The bricks are 27cm long and 18cm wide. The middle part is decorated with a pine tree, bamboo, plum, peony, and chrysanthemum patterns, and on the northern lateral side the Chinese character “囍”(Hui)is inscribed. The lower part is adorned with a tiger, bat, crane, etc., which symbolize the king, subject, royalty, wealth, longevity, warding off evil, etc. respectively. The chimneys, laid up of red brick, are in harmony with the other structures in the flower terraces.(Treasure No. 811)

10.The Jagyeongjeon

Jagyeonjeon was the living quarters where Queen Dowager Jo, the mother of King Hyeonjong(r.1834-1849), 24th King of the Joseon period lived. It was built for her by Regent Lee Ha-eung(the Daewongun), father of King Gojong, the 26th King(r.1863-1907) of the Joseon Period. The present quarters were built in 1888 after the original structure were burnt down. This is the only building with a bedroom remaining in Gyeongbokgung palace.

Bogandang, the bed chamber, is situated to the northwest and is heated by Ondol. Cheongyeonnu, a pavilion with elevated floor for use in the summer, is to the southwest. There had been a number of additional, walls, and a two-post gate with roof. All that remains is the wall with the ten symbols of long life and the freestanding chimneys in the rear garden, plus the wall with flower and plant designs in the west.(Treasure No. 809)

(1) Mansemun of Jagyeongjeon

This is the south gate in the southern wing. The gate occupies the span from the 8 to 10th kan from the west among the 30.5 kan of the corridor.


The gate is so arranged as not to give a change to the overall height of the corridor. The gate structure with four entrances covers 3 kan. This style can be found in the Seonpyeongmun gate in the southern corridor in front of the Daejojeon hall in the Changdeokgung palace. This suggests the possibility that a gate of this style may have once served the Gyotaejeon hall, the queen’s residence, adjacent to the Jagyeongjeon. South gates to royal bed chambers were generally in this style.

The gate is so arranged as not to give a change to the overall height of the corridor. The gate structure with four entrances covers 3 kan. This style can be found in the Seonpyeongmun gate in the southern corridor in front of the Daejojeon hall in the Changdeokgung palace. This suggests the possibility that a gate of this style may have once served the Gyotaejeon hall, the queen’s residence, adjacent to the Jagyeongjeon. South gates to royal bed chambers were generally in this style.

(3) The Chimneys of the Jagyeongjeon

On the upper part of the chimneys which are 381cm wide, 236cm high, and 65cm long, there is a dragon and on the right and left side of it, bricks with a crane design are inserted. In the middle there is the sun, a mountain, cloud, rock, pine tree, turtle, crane, the sea, a deer, grape, lotus, bamboo, and an herb which gives immortality to man, etc. On the lower part, there are two Haetae images, and on the right and left side there is a bat and an arabesque design.

The dragon symbolize the king, the crane subject, the sun the rock, and the turtle, etc. longevity, the grapes many offsprings, the bat wealth, and the Haetae waiding off evil.

These are the most beautiful chimneys of the Joseon period that still remain in Korea. (Treasure No. 810)

(4)The Wall of the Jagyeonjeon

The western wall of the Jagyeongjeon, made of yellow bricks, is very beautiful. The rear side of it is decorated with the Chinese character ” 萬壽”(Mansu), a lattice work, a plum, an octagon etc. and the outer side with a peach, chrysanthemum, bamboo, butterfly, lotus etc., from which one may infer how excellently the wall then constructed.


11.The Hamhwadang

Located west of the Jipgyeongdang hall, the Hamhwadang hall is connected with it inside through a 3 kan passage. Its floor space covers 17square kan with a 2.5-kan inner upper structure. There was once a wall in the south with the Gyemyeongmun and Yeongchunmun gates.

The hall was once surrounded by an 8-kan western corridor and an 11-kan southern corridor. There were also fences pierced by two pillar gates called Yeongjimun and Changmumum. But all except this hall have been demolished. This is capped with a half-hipped roof with single eaves.

12.The Jipgyeongdang

Jipgyeondang hall is connected with the Hamhwadang hall in the west through a 3-kan passage. Both the Jipgyeongdang and the Hamhwadang belong to the Heungbokjeon hall ,a royal bed chamber. The Heungbokjeon was once located north of the Amisan hill. North of the Heungbokjeon, there was the Gwangwondang, and farther north, there was the Jipgyeongdang and the Hamhwadang, with the Yeongchundang in the neighborhood. But they all have disappeared, except the Jipgyeongdang and the Hamhwadang, which were used as offices of the museum when the Japanese constructed their government-general building after the Annexation.

The Jipgyeongdang is a building of 28.5 square kan with an inner upper structure. It once had a fence in the north and a two-pillar gate called Eungbokmun.

13. The Hyangwonjong

There was once a hall called Jangandang hall north of the Hamhwadang hall. As the northern corridor of this building was near to the northern palace, one soon reached the Gyemumun, a secret gate to the palace, once one left the corridor. There was the Konnyonggak pavilion east of the Jangandang, and there was the Boksudang hall north of the pavilion. There is a pond south of this hall’s southern corridor, namely, south of the Geoncheonggung palace. There is an isle in the center of the pond. A hexagonal two-story pavilion named Hyangwonjeong perches on the isle. At present we can reach the pavilion through a wooden bridge in the south. But the bridge was once located in the north for crossing the Geoncheonggung palace. The bridge is called Chuihyanggyo.

(1) The Hyangwonji Pond and Chuihyanggyo Bridge

Constructed in 1456, the Hyangwonji pond belongs to the rear garden of the Gyeongbokgung palace. It can be also found in an ancient Korean chronicle. According to the record, the pond was built along with the Chuirojeong pavilion, and lotus flowers were planted in it.

The existing pond was reconstructed in 1873, and the hexagonal pavilion of Hyangwonjeong and Chuihyanggyo bridge were built then. The area of the pond is 4605 square meters.

Waterweeds can be found there along with carp swimming in the pond, by which trees, including zelkova, chinese juniper, maple, pine, oak, pear etc. stand.

On the island in which the Hyangwonjeong pavilion is erected shrubs, including royal azaleas and maple trees grow, and south of the pond, one finds a stone pond with “荷池”(Haji) inscribed on the side and there are also stone tables here.

The water of the pond springs up from the northern hill and the well called Yeolsangjinwon. The pond is at its most spectacular when the Mt.Bugaksan , the pavilion painted in diverse colours, and the wooden bridge are reflected on the water in the pond.


14. The Jaesugak

This is a small building of 14 square kan that once belonged to the Mangyeongjeon hall. Though small, the frontal side measures 7 kan wide. Like other buildings where bed chambers were installed, this one has an entrance in the center 2 kan wide. The right and left sides are shut with windows. The eaves are double and the roof is a half-hipped one. The Dancheong was not applied to this building and the eaves are painted only red, obtaining the effect of being simple.

The building was once surrounded by corridors in the east, west, and south, measuring 11 to 15 kan. But they are all gone.

15.The Yeongchumun (Gate)

If the east symbolizes spring, the west represents autumn. The west gate of the palace was named Yeongchunmun(Gate of Welcoming Autumn). A stream ran outside this gate in the past, but it is covered now and cannot be seen.



1.The Honghwamun (Gate)

Honghwamun, the main of Changgyeonggung palace, faces east as is Myeongjeongjeon hall, the main building of the palace. This gate is believed to have been first built in the 15th year of the reign of King Seongjong(1484) and then burnt down during the Japanese invasion of 1592 and rebuilt in the eighth year of the reign of King Gwanghaegun(1616).

This is typical of the early Joseon architecture, featuring a two-story pavilion 3kan wide and 2kan deep(a kan is a traditional word of length between two columns showing different dimension according to the period), and multi-brackets atop the columns. There are three wood plank doors in the front and crimson arrow-like ornaments above the doors There is a flight of stairs in the northern part of the structure leading to the second story. The second story is wood floored and the ceiling structure is visible from the floor. Walls extend from the gate.(Treasure No. 384)

2. The Okcheongyo (Bridge)

All main halls of the Joseon palaces are approached across a stone bridge over a stream. Okcheongyo is such a bridge for Changgyeonggung palace. This 9.9m long and 6.6m wide bridge was built in 1483. The middle of the bridge is raised for kings to walk on.

The bridge is supported by twin arches. There is a carving of a monster mask between the arches to expel evil spirits. Four pillars divide the railing into five panels on either side of the bridge, and each panel has two openings.(Treasure No. 386)

3.The Myeongjeongmun (Gate)

This single pavilion, 3 kan wide and 2 kan deep, with a hipped-and gabled roof is in the center of the east covered passageway facing Myeongjeongjeon hall. Myeongjeongmun gate is not exactly on the west -east axis of the palace, but is situated 1.2m south of it. Multi-cluster brackets are placed not only on the column tops, but also on the outer tiebeams between the columns. the column plinths are round. A double door is between the columns.

The multi-bracket system and the general architectural style of this gate help us to believe it dates, together with Myeongjeongjeon hall, from the reign of King Gwanghaegun.

4.The Myeongjeongjeon (Hall)

Erected in 1484 during the reign of King Seongjong, this Myeongjeongjeon hall of Changgyeonggung palace was burnt down during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and rebuilt in 1616 during the reign of King Gwanghaegun. Unlike the main halls of Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, which face south, this one faces the east. This unusual orientation for a Joseon dynasty palace was made because of its terrain.

The single-storied hall with a hipped-and-gabled roof stands on the two-tired Woldae terrace. The plinths of the pillars are square in the lower part and round in the upper portion This 5 kan wide and 3 kan deep hall has multi-cluster brackets on the column tops and outer tie-beams.

Except for the door, the building has latticed windows. Above the windows are low windows with slanted lattice designs to let in the sunlight. In the back of the hall is the throne. A folding screen of the sun and the moon is placed behind and a wooden canopy is above it. There is a recessed ceiling decorated with the Bonghwang phoenix, which was the symbol of immortality and nobility. Lotus designs were painted in Dancheong coloring on the ceiling. A 5 meters-wide stone-paved way leads to the throne hall from Myeongjeongmun gate. It has a 2.4 meter wide raised central portion reserved for kings only. Subjects followed the king on the lower sides. A pair of Bonghwang phoenixes is engraved inside heart-shaped outlines on rises of the center stairs. Stairs are engraved with arabesque, cloud, and Bosanghwa floral designs. Flanking the risers are the mythical Haetae, fire-eating legendary animals, that offer protection from fire. The two-lined stone markers, 24 in all, in front, indicate the positions of attending officials.

5.The Munjeongjeon (Hall)

The present building was completed in 1986 as a part of the reconstruction project of Changgyeonggung palace based on the finding of the excavation and various written records. It was confirmed through the excavation in 1984 that the original building stood on a base 20meters north to south and 18 meters west to east and the base had two stairs in its east and west sides. The restored Munjeongjeon hall is 3 kan wide and as many kan deep, and has square columns and multi-cluster brackets on the column tops.

The single-story building with a hipped-and-gabled roof with double-tiered eaves is 125.4 square meters in floor space and faces the south. The two-tiered flower terrace was built on the sloping terrain to the west of this building, and Munjeongmun gate was erected in the east.

The original Munjeongjeon was built in 1484 by King Seongjong and burnt down during the Japanese invasion in 1592 to be rebuilt in 1616 during the reign of King Gwanghaegun. Judging from Joseonchongdokbu Vol. X, published by the Japanese government-general in 1930, showed the east side of Munjeongjon, the building must have survived until that year.

6. The Gwancheondae (Observatory)

Soganui, a kind of astrolabe, was installed on this astronomical observatory originally erected outside Geummamun gate of Changdeokgung palace in 1688 during the reign of King Sukjong. It was moved here during the Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945).

It is 2.2m high, 2.4m wide and 2.3m deep. Five holes are bored on a stone plate (73.4cm × 52.6cm × 24.5cm) to fix a 99cm tall wind flag. (Treasure No. 851)

7.The Sungmundang(Hall)

This gabled-and-hipped structure with single-winged bracketing was built in 1830, the 30th year of King Sunjo, to replace the one that was earlier destroyed by fire in the same year. It had been built during the reign of King Gyeongjong(r. 1720-1724), the 20th King of Joseon. The front part of this 4 kan wide and 3 kan deep building is supported by five tall square stone pillars making it appear as if it were a raised pavilion. Verandas are provided on the front and the rear and on the south side of the hall.

The inside of the building consists of the central wooden floor and two rooms, on either side of the wooden floor. The signboard and the plaque were written by King Yeongjo, who was a great promoter of scholarship and learning. He used to receive and test university students here, and often held celebrations here in their honor.

8.Binyangmun (Gate)

9.The Haminjeong (Pavilion)

After Inyangjeon hall, built in 1484 during the reign of King Seongjong, was burnt down during the Japanese invasion of 1592, King Injo moved Hamindang pavilion in Ingyeonggung palace to the site of Inyangjeon in 1633, renaming it Haminjeong. King Yeongjo(r. 1724-1776) here received top winners of the national civil and military examinations called Gwageo.

This single-story pavilion has a hipped-and-gabled roof double bird-wing brackets are atop columns. The eaves are two-tiered. The wooden floor inside the inner columns are raised and the ceiling above it is latticed, while rafters are visible from the floor around the raised floor.

10. The Gyeongchunjeon (Hall)


Built in 1483, it was destroyed in the Japanese invasion of 1592, rebuilt in 1616, burnt down in 1830, and rebuilt in 1834, King Jeongjo and King Heonjong were born here. The Chinese characters, over the center, were written by King Sunjo. This single-story building is 7 kan wide and 4 kan deep, and has a hipped-and-gabled roof with two-tier eaves. There are verandas in front and rear. Simple brackets are on the column tops. Latticed doors are installed around the building and latticed windows are above them. The floor is made of wood and the inside ceiling is latticed. Beams are placed between the front and rear inner columns.

11.The Hwangyeongjeon Hall

This royal residence first built in 1484 during the reign of King Seongjong was burnt down during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and was rebuilt in 1616 during the reign of King Gwanghaegun. Burnt up again by a fire of 1830 It was rebuilt for the last time in 1834.

This single-storey building with a hipped-and-gabled roof is 7 kan wide and 4 kan deep and has simple, graceful double-wing brackets atop the columns. The eaves are two-tiered. The floor is wooden, and beams are crossed between the inner and outer columns. Roof rafters are exposed between the outer and inner columns, while the inner ceiling is latticed.

12.The Hamyangmun (Gate)

13.The Tongmyeongjeon (Hall)

This was the main building in the Yeonjo area where kings and their families lived. Like many buildings of the palace, Tongmyeongjeon had been burnt down several times since it was first built in 1484 during the reign of King Seongjong to be rebuilt for the last time in 1834 by King Sunjo. This 7 kan wide and 4 kan deep building has a hipped-and-gabled roof with double-tiered eaves. This building on a single-tier Woldae terrace has a roof without the ridge on top and has simple, graceful double-wing brackets atop columns. Latticed doors are installed all around the building and latticed windows are above them. Tongmyeongjeon has each veranda in front and rear. Except for the north-western section, the inside wooden floor is laid out in a large lattice pattern. The 1984 excavation confirmed that the 4 kan space in the center had originally been rooms where traces of heating flues were found. The ceilings of the inside hall are latticed, while the ceiling above the verandas is papered.

(1)Pond Near Tongmyeongjeon Hall

This square pond is 12.8m long and 5.2m wide. The pond is lined with long square stones and has exquisitely sculptured stone rails. A simple 59.4cm-wide and 256cm-long stone bridge is spanned from west to east. There are two fantastic stones and a lotus-shaped stand in the pond. The water of this pond is drawn into the pond from a fountain 4.6m away to the north. The fountain water cascades down into the pond after traveling a straight stone waterway. According to The Annals of King Seongjong, there had been a copper waterway to bring the fountain water to the pond. (Treasure No. 818)


14.The Yanghwadang (Hall)

Built in 1484 during the reign of King Seongjong, this royal residence was burnt in 1592 during the Japanese invasion of Korea. Rebuilt in 1616, the eighth year of the reign of King Gwanghaegun ( r. 1608-1623), it was again burnt down in 1624, the second year of the reign of King Injo (1623-1649) during the Revolt of Lee Gwal. It was soon rebuilt after the revolt. The present building was built in 1834 after a fire of 1830.

This single-storey building is 6 kan wide and 4 kan deep, and has a hipped-and-gabled roof with double eaves. It stands on a base of long and square stones. The pillars are square and have simple bird-wing brackets on the top. The inside of the building is wood-floored, and there is a 2 kan front veranda. The inner ceiling is latticed, while the rafters are revealed on slanted plastered roof between the outer and inner columns.

15.Former Museum

16. The Punggidae(Treasure No.846)

This wind streamer is believed to have been erected in 1732, the 8th year of King Yeoungjo’s reign. It has a hole on top in which a pole with a long, narrow flag could be fitted for measuring the wind direction and force. The pedestal is 92.4cm high and the octagonal pole is 135.7cm high, which totaled 228.1cm. high. (Treasure No. 846).

17.The Yeongchunheon-Jipbokheon

18.Placenta Burial Marker

19.Placenta Burial Marker

Chundangji, consisting of two ponds, was made in 1909. The smaller pond is 1,107 square meters and the larger one is 6,483 square meters. The 366-square-meter island and the bridge were made in 1984. King Yeonsangun was digging a large pond on the site of Chundangji when he was dethroned in 1506. The site had been used as palace rice paddies until 1909.

20.The Greenhouse

21.The Gwandeokjeong (Pavilion)

22.The Jipchunmun (Gate)

23.The Gwahangmun (Gate)

24.The Wolgeunmun (Gate)

25.The Seoninmun (Gate)



1.The Daehanmun (Gate)

First named Daeanmun and renamed Daehanmun in 1906, this gate is the main entrance of Deoksugung and is said to have stood in front of the Jeunghwamun gate. It was because of city planning that the palace was moved westward from its original position and the walls were also moved back. Daehanmun, like the front gate of Changgyeonggung palace, faces east. It is the only example of a one -story palace front gate. The gate is 3 kan wide and 2 kan deep. The eaves of its hipped-and-gabled roof are supported by multi-cluster brackets. The base and stairs of the gate are now buried underground. The calligraphy for Daehanmun gate was done by Nam Jong-cheol, a high ranking official during King Gojong’s reign.

2. The Geumcheongyo (Bridge)

All royal palaces had a waterway flowing through them and stone bridge over it, Because Deoksugung palace was developed from a private residence rather than originally planned as a royal palace, there is no natural stream to it. Therefore, an artificial waterway was dug and a stone bridge (Geumcheonkyo) was spanned over it. The waterway since has turned into a pond. The bridge has two arches.

3.Jidang (Pond)

4.The Junghwamun (Gate)

Junghwajeon, the throne hall, is the main hall of Deoksugung palace. It is approached through the Junghwamun gate. It is 5 kan wide and 4 kan deep (kan is a traditional way of measurement; it refers to the space between two columns). The eves of the building’s hipped-and-gabled roof are supported by multi-cluster brackets. The hall and its gate, which were both constructed in 1902, were burnt down in 1904 with the rest of the palace buildings.Junghwajeon was rebuilt in 1906, and is thus the most recently built main hall of the royal palaces.

The Junghwamun gate, which is 3 kan wide and 2 kan deep, is architecturally similar to the Junghwajeon hall, including the multi-cluster bracket structure and hipped-and-gabled roof. Because the original Junghwajeon was two-storied, it is assumed that the original Junghwamun gate was also larger than the present one. The present gate is believed to have been built in 1906 when Junghwajeon was rebuilt. The gate’s columns, like those of the hall, are higher than those of other palatial structures of comparable dimensions.

5. The Junghwajeon (Hall)


Chungwajeon stands upon a broad two-tiered Woldae (stone terrace). The stairs leading to the hall are not steep. The round columns, which are topped with multi-cluster brackets, stand on round stone plinths. The doors have slanted lattice frames. Windows to admit sunlight are above the doors. The overall impression of this building is less of gentleness because the wide two-tiered terrace, the front between base and roof, and the roof combine to represent characteristics of the last days of the Joseon period. (treasure No.819)

(1) The Throne in Junghwajeon Hall

The throne is approached directly from the hall’s central door. It is on high platform between two tall columns. An openwork wood folding screen and a higher folding screen with designs of the sun, moon and mountains are behind the throne. Stairs with railings are in the front and on either side of the dais. A carved wooden canopy is over the throne.

(2) Stairs to Junghwajeon Hall

Four mythical fire eating animals called “haetae” divide the stairs into three sections. The two inner “haetae” are fully sculptured, while remaining only the heads of the outer two are fully sculptured with the rest of the body simply rounded. The stone panel in the middle of the stairs is decorated with clouds, grass and flowers, and in its center are two dragons in an oval.

(3) Stairs to Upper-Tier Terrace of Junghwajeon Hall

The lower tier of the terrace is built up with two rows of long stones topped by surface panels. The stairs to the lower tier comprise five steps. A pair of haetae animals on the second step divide the stairs into three sections. A stone panel is placed between the second and the fifth steps in the middle. At the end of the triangular side panels of the stairs are the head of the haetae. The stairs to the upper tier of the terrace are the same as those to the lower tier except that the side panels are rounded and that the stairs are of three steps.

(4) Covered Corridors of Junghwajeon Hall

The main building of a royal palace has covered corridors enclosing its front court. Examples of such corridors are found in Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, and Changgyeonggung palaces. There must have been such covered corridors for Junghwajeon hall, this structure to east of the hall is believed to have been part of the corridors, judging from its architectural plan and style.

6.The Gwangmyeongmun (Gate)


The main gate to Hamnyeongjeon hall. The original position of this gate was south of Hamnyeongjeon hall. During the Japanese rule (1910 – 1945), the gate was removed to the present location to be used as an exhibition space for the Buddhist bell of Heungcheonsa temple and the water clock. This gate with 3 kan in width and 2 kan in depth has wooden panel doors when it was at its original location.

Round columns have brackets on the top and Janghwaban supports are placed on the head penetrating ties to support the purlines. Though large for a palace building gate, its structure is solid.

7.The Wolgongmun (Gate)

8.The Podeokmun (Gate)

9.The Seokjojeon (Hall)

This edifice showing the influence of the Colonial style of the early 19th century America is three storied and has a floor space op 4,045 square meters. The building work was supervised at its early stage by Sim Uiseok, a Korean, Sabatin, a Russian, and Ogawa, a Japanese, and later by M. H. Davidson, an Englishman. The first floor was for the attendants and valets, the second floor consisted of audience rooms and halls, and on the third floor were the bed rooms, living rooms and drawing rooms for the use of king and queen-consort.

At one time, this building housed the National Museum of Korea. At present it is used as a part of the Royal Museum. The Royal Museum with 11 exhibition halls show artefacts of the royal Yi household including the clothes and personal ornaments of Crown Prince Uimin (King Ongchin) and his consort, Princess Bangja, and relics related to Princess Yuhwa. The Construction of the West Wing was begun in 1936 and was completed in 1938. It is now used as a part of the Royal Museum.

10.West Wing of Seokjojeon Hall

National Museum of contemporary Art, Deoksugung specializes in modern art and is engaged in various activities: academic studies, collection and preservation of works of art, the staging of temporary and permanent exhibitions, the development and execution of educational programs, the publication and international dissemination of information and finally, the international exchange of modern works of art. Because many citizens find it difficult to get to Gwacheon from Seoul, one of the Museums chief goals is to serve as a cultural center for the residents of northern Seoul.

11. The Fountain

This stone building was conceived by one Brown, an Englishman, in 1900 and designed by architect G.R. Harding, also an English man, and was completed in 1910. These gardens are believed to have been made also in the same year. A western-style garden with pond and fountain, this was the first European garden ever made in Korea. Four bronze fur seals are positioned around the fountain.

12.The Junmyeongdang (Hall)

This building 6 kan wide across the front and 4 kan deep on the side with a hipped-and -gabled roof is situated to the north of Junghwajeon hall and west of Jeukjodang. An inner building of the palace, Junmyeongdang hall, with an architectural style similar to Jeukjodang hall, had functions similar to it as well. While the wooden floor of Jeukjodang is on its eastern section, that of this building is on its western part.

King Gojong lived here for sometime and received foreign diplomats here. At one time, the portraits of King Gojong and Sunjong were enshrined here.

13.The Jeukjodang (Hall)


King Sunjong ascended the throne in this building located to the north of Junghwajeon hall. Burned in 1904, it was rebuilt later in the year. 7 kan wide across the front and 4 kan deep on the side, this simple and well-proportioned building is not large for a royal living quarter. An open wooden floor is provided in the east front of the building. The Woldae terrace is high in relation to the building and a corridor connects this hall with Junmyeongdang hall to the west.

(1) Fantastic Stones in Front of Jeukjodang Hall

As mentioned earlier, there were no fantastic stones as part of the original landscaping of Deoksugung palace. These stones were brought here from Changgyeonggung palace in 1984 because Jeukjodang was the royal bed chamber, and all royal bed chambers were supposed to have fantastic stones placed nearby.

14. Bronze Statue of King Sejong

This statue was made in 1968. The sculptor was Kim Gyeong-seung who was commissioned by the Committee to Erect Statues of Great Koreans and the Seoul Sinmun Daily Newspaper. Scientific instruments are carved in relief on the three sides of the stone pedestal.

15. The Deokhongjeon (Hall)


Built in 1911, this is one of the most recently built structures in Deoksugung palace. The base is built up with long square stones. The pillars are of adequate height and simplified column-top brackets support the roof. This building is smaller than Hamnyeongjeon hall to the east. The height of the base, the front between base and roof, and roof of this building are in pleasing and refined harmony. Dragon heads and miscellaneous images on the ridges of the hipped-and-gabled roof are believed to expel misfortune and prevent fire.

(1) Deokhongjeon Hall

This is a view of Deokhongjeon from Hamnyeongjeon hall kings conducted daily business of national government and received domestic and foreign dignitaries in this building. The original wall between Hamnyeongjeon and Deokhongjeon is now gone. This hipped-and-gabled building with a 3 kan wide and 4 kan deep has unique front stairs. A narrower and lower platform is attached to the terrace and stepping stones are provided on its either sides. A flight of stairs flanked by stone panels is installed in the middle of the platform. This style of base is thought to be a simplified version of the two-tiered Woldae terrace.

16.The Jeonggwanheon (Hall)

Built in 1900, this is the first European architecture ever built in a royal palace. King Gojong held parties here. There are inner and outer rows of wooden columns in this building of 7kan frontal width and 5kan depth. The inner columns are thick and round. Tops of the outer columns are Romanesque and the space between column tops in decorated by openwork designs. Openwork deer, pine, bats, and arabesque floral designs connects the lower part of the outer columns to produce a Korean-style atmosphere.

17.The Hamnyeongjeon (Hall)

These living and sleeping quarters of King Gojong were rebuilt in 1904, following their destruction by fire earlier in the year. King Gojong died in this building in 1919. This ‘L’-shaped building is 9 kan wide across the front, 4 kan deep on the side, and has a 4 kan extension attached to the rear of the western section of the building. The central part is recessed. For its size, the building is simply decorated.

(1) Outside view of Corridors of Hamnyeongjeon Hall

While the location of the corridors are original, the architectural aspects have been changed because of repair work done during the Japanese occupation(1910-1945). The corridor in front of Hamnyeongjeon hall has a three-panel door installed in it while the corridor in front ofDeokhongjeon hall has a roofed gate. The corridors in front of the two buildings are connected with each other.

(2) Papered Doors of Hamnyeongjeon Hall

Doors are viewed from the inside of the hall. Windows are provided above the papered doors to bring in more light. While the doors have simple square designs, the light windows have slanted lattice designs. The papered doors and windows make the inside brighter and appear spacious and higher. Sliding paper doors are installed between the wood-floored area and adjacent Ondol-heated rooms. The #-shaped main frame of the doors help make the rooms more comfortable.


18.The Seogeodang (Hall)

The only two-storied building in Deoksugung palace, the original Seogeodang was burnt down in 1904 fire and rebuilt later in the year. The original Seogeodang hall was used by King Seonjo for 16 years upon return from his refuge during the Japanese invasion in 1592. He died in this building. It was in the front yard of this building that the Dowager Queen Inmok severely reprimanded King Gwanghaegun for his wicked deeds. Although a two-storied palace building, its architectural style strongly reflects that of an ordinary building with absence of decoration. The first story is 8 kan wide across the front and 3 kan deep on the side, while the second story is 6 kan wide across the front and 1 kan deep on the side.



1.The Donhwamun (Gate)

This is main entrance to the Changdeokgung palace. When it was first built, there was a white granite substructure, on the top of which a two-storied gate building was erected. This is a typical structure of the entrance to our palace that was transmitted from the Three Kingdoms period. Unfortunately, now, the substructure has disappeared; only the two-storied building remains. This is quite different from the structure of the Gwanghwamun, the main entrance to the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty, which was erected on the structure with three open arches on the ground.

As one may observe, the Donhwamun is elegant but simple because it was built as an entrance to a separate palace of the Changdeokgung palace.

The Donhwamun was set on fire by the Japanese invaders, but it was reconstructed as it had been by King Seonjo in 1607. It’s the oldest entrance to remain in Seoul. Only the threshold of the entrance was reconstructed so that an automobile could pass through it easily. (Treasure No.383).

2.Geumcheongyo (Bridge)

This bridge was built over the stream that sprang from the north and encircled “Oedang” which means the outer buildings of the palace. It is derived from our ancient belief that a place such as this one was one of the most auspicious sites for a palace. This is the reason why Yeongjegyo bridge in the Gyeongbokgung palace and Okcheongyo bridge in the Changgyeonggung palace were built over each stream that flowed from the north and encircled the Oedang. The bridge is 12.9m long and 12.5m wide. It was constructed by king Taejong in 1411. The banks of the stream were made up of long rectangular stones.

This is one of the oldest stone bridge to remain in Seoul now. The structure of bridges is as follows: It has two arches, and a mighty mythical animal called “Haetae” to the south and a turtle statue called “Hyeonmu” to the north were installed on the stand in the middle of the arches. Behind these statues, a monster, which is said to keep off evil spirits, is carved on the lateral side of the base where the two arches meet. On the both sides of the bridge, balustrades are established. The balustrades are composed of stone pillars with animal-shaped statues on the top, balusters, and flat stones with wind holes. Especially the lotus petal design on the balusterades, the statues in the shape of animal heads at the foot of each baluster, and a mighty mythical animal statue, called “Haetae”, on top of the last baluster is very charming. This bridge is not flat, but arched with the rise in the middle. In front of the bridge, there was a gate called “Jinseonmun” which lead to “Oedang” that in Korean belief, had some relationship with the Myeongdangsu stream. Inside of the Donhwamun, there was a garden which was covered with the trees, like a locust, a zelkova, and so on. This is derived from an ancient Korean institution, too, and it’s also why the palace was called “Goesin”, which literally means the palace where the trees, including a locust, a zelkova, etc., were planted.

3.The Injeongmun (Gate)

This is an open entrance to the existing wing which surrounds the Injeongjeon where the king and his officials gathered together to hold a conference. This gate is located in the center of the south of the Injeongjeon. Going up the lower terrace stones, you will find an entrance with only an open ‘kan’ in the center among 3 kan’s. This is different from any other entrances in this respect because it was later changed in structure and decorations, etc.

The Injeongmun was first built in 1418 during King Taejong’s reign, but subsequently it was destroyed and reconstructed; It was destroyed during the Japanese invasion, King Injo’s Reform, and King Yeongjo’s reign. The existing gate is assumed to have been built in 1745 when the Injeongjeon was reconstructed. (Treasure No. 813)

4.The Injeongjeon (Hall)

Every palace has its own main hall, which was equipped with various decorations that symbolize the power and authority of the King. The Injeongjeon, as a main hall of the Changdeokgung palace, is stationed in the centre of the outer buildings of the palace. In fact, it is usual that the outer buildings should be located in the south of the inner buildings, and the most important buildings and pavilions arranged in accordance with the line of the main axis of the meridian.

The Changdeokgung differs from the Gyeongbokgung palace in this respect. All the buildings of the Changdeokgung are arranged according to its topography. This is the reason why the palace was built as a detached palace. This is also characteristic of the Changdeokgung palace. About 1912, when the wings of the Injeongjeon were reconstructed to be used for an exhibition hall, the gate called Injeongmun was also restored to function as an entrance of the hall, and each space between two posts was then rearranged, too. Built on the double bases called “Woldae”, the Injeongjeon is a two-story building, the inside of which has no partition between both stories. It occupies 20 kan and has an eave with a complex bracket structure which represents the late style of the Joseon dynasty.

5.The Seonjeongjeon (Hall)

Usually, the Pyeonjeon, where the king worked at his convenience, belonged to the outer buildings of the palace, but it neighboured the king’s sleeping quarters. The Seonjeongjeon is the Pyeonjeon with 9 kan, which is a one-story building. One can feel a sense of comfortable and stability here. In particular, the high footstones for gutter, and the blue glazed roof tiles are the attractions here. The four-leaf doors with paper replaced by pane made the inside more bright.

In the center of the building, the king sat on his throne in from of the screen with the sun, the moon, and five mountains in, and then his subjects were permitted to take their seats on both sides. A scribe also sat in a corner, recording what they were discussing.

The decorative ceiling over the throne is symbolic of the king’s authority. It looks like a canopy, and is truly representative of woodcraft and art of the Joseon Dynasty. (Treasure No. 814)


6.The Huijeongdang(Hall)

Built to the south of the Daejojeon, the Huijeongdang was the place where the king worked ever day. The room in the centre of the building with no partitions, which is 3 kan in length and 3kan in width, was used as a drawing room, and the same size room in the west was used as a conference hall. On the upper part of the east wall of the drawing room, the “Landscape of the Chongseokjeong Pavilion” is hung, and on the upper part of the west wall, the “Ten Thousands Peaks of the Geumgangsan Mountain” is hung. King Gojong stayed here before the completion of the Gyeongbokgung and King Seonjong did, too. In those days, western civilization was introduced into Korea, which was under acculturation.

The Huijeongdang is a representative example of this; that is, the Huijeongdang building is, certainly Korean native architecture, but the interior is decorated with western materials in many respects. The Huijeongdang was burned down in 1917, and the existing building was reconstructed with the materials of the Gangnyeongjeon disassembled in the Gyeongbokgung (Treasure No. 815)

7.The Daejojeon (Hall)

This is a queen’s residence called “Daejojeon”, which is located just behind the king’s residence, called “Huijeongdang”, which is in the center of the palace. Usually, every building of the palace has a ridge on its roof, but the Daejojeon has none. It’s the reason why we can easily find what and where the Daejojeon is.

In the center of the Daejojeon, there is a small base called “Woldae”, on which every man who visited a queen executed a greeting or sometimes waited for her to appear. At the right, left and front of the Woldae, each stone stairway was built, which lead to the foot way. At both edges of the base, there are massive bronze utensils, which were installed to ward off fire. It was derived from the belief that the god of fire was frightened away at seeing his shape reflected on the water in it.

It’s here the King Seongjong, King Injo, King Hyeonjong, King Cheoljong, and King Sunjong,etc. died. (Treasure No. 816)

8.The Naeuiwon (Infirmary)

It’s here that the royal doctors of the court took care of the King and his family. It was also called “Yakbang”, which literally means a pharmacy. In the Seongjeonggak, the main building of the Naeuiwon complex, there are some tables of ‘保護聖躬’ ‘彫和御樂’ etc., Which mean “do one’s best to take care of the king and his family”. They were written by King Jeongjo himself.

Every court doctor had his own duty: some were in charge of surgery and some of obstetrics: there were also women doctors who treated only women of higher status.

They were always on duty day and night by turns. Here in the Naeuiwon, all kinds of herbs from all over the country were then preserved. However, the herbs, the court doctors and the implements that were used for compounding medicine have all disappeared. Only some stone mortars remain to tell the story of those days.

9. The Royal Garage

10.The Nakseonjae (Pavilion)


11.The Yeonghwadang(Hall)

The Korean society of the Joseon dynasty was organized and administered by the scholar gentry, recruited from the class of petty landlords through an examination system which was called “Gwageojedo” in Korean. It’s here in the Yeonghwadang that such an examination called “Jeonsi” was held. But this is was originally the place where the king and his subjects enjoyed poetry and flowers. It was from King Jeongjo’s reign that such an examination was held here.

12.The Buyongjeong (Pavilion)

The applicants who passed the examination in the Yeonghwadang went to the Juhamnu, in which they studied tens of thousands of the books collected in the royal library. When the course of the study was finished, a commemorative party was held at the Buyongjeong pavilion. Even though the Buyongjeong is a small building, the surface of it is in the shape of ‘亞’ and it is very complex. The two legs of the Buyongjeong are in a pond, which looks like a beautiful lotus flower in full blossom in the pond.

The Buyongjeong is also uncommon in structure. It is a building of 1 kan, which is surrounded by doors. Openning the doors, one can see around the outside.

13.The Buyongji (Pond)

The Buyongji (34.5m by 29.4m) is a rectangular pond with a round island in the center. The island is 9 meter in diameter. It was in 1707 that this pond and the Taeksuje were built at the present site of the Buyongjong pavilion. But the Taeksuje was removed by King Jeongjo, who constructed the Buyongjeong in 1792. Beside the pavilion, there is a beautiful fantastic stone on the pot, which is symbolic of a Taoist hermit. In particular, when the Juhamnu in the north, the Yeonghwadang in the east, and the Buyongjeong in the south are reflected on the surface of the water of the pond, they are at their most spectacular.

14.The Juhamnu

The Juhamnu was completed in the year when King Jeongjo ascended the throne. Especially the king himself was very fond of the pragmatic sciences prevailing in the academic field, and wrote many important books, In this way, he made a great contribution to the development of the science.

The Juhamnu is a Kind of a library which has two stories. On the first floor is the storehouse in which tens of thousands of books are stored, and on the second is a reading room. The Junhamnu literally means the “Pavilion where every kind of principle of the universe gathers.” In other words, it’s here that all future officials-to-be read and study.

It’s the reason why the landscape around the pavilion was made attractive. For example, the Eosumun gate in the south, a square pond in front of the gate, the island in the center of the pond, which is derived from an ancient Korean belief, the monument in the west of the pond, a monster statue through which the water comes into the pond, the Yeonghwadang in the east, the Buyongjeong in the south, a fish image on the stone near the pond at a side of the Buyongjeong, etc,. This place is also famous for the glorious tints of its autumn foliage.

15.The Aeryeonji (Pond)

If one passes the garden at the rear of the Juhamnu pavilion and walks down along the slope of the hill leading into the stairway, he can find a square pond on the opposite side and a pavilion on the north bank of the pond. This is the Aeryeonjeong, which is composed of only 1 kan. Looking out of the windows of the pavilion, one can enjoy a wonderful view. It looks like just a framed picture, owing to the decorations attached to the upper part of the pillars. Of course, the mood of the picture depends on the season. In particular, the stone structure, through which water comes into the pond, is opposite excellent in beauty and technique of design.

16.The Yeongyeongdang(Hall)

All the buildings in this complex were built after the model of Korean gentry’s houses in the 28th year of King Sunjo’s reign. Such an example can never be found in any other palace. This complex, which totaled 99 kan, was then named after Yeongyeongdang, which the master occupied. In this respect, all the buildings here are important artifacts which relate ancient Korean housing, architecture and life history, etc.

Those who come through the entrance in the middle on horseback or by a monocycle called” Choheon” dismount from stepping on a stone in front of the stairway to the Yeongyeongdang which the master occcupied. Then they walk up a flight of three stairs, at the top of which they take off their shoes on a stepping stone and stand on the wooden varanda. Finally, they reach the floored hall of 4 kan, which is composed of an east floor room of 2 kan and a west reception room of 4 kan, at the outer side of which are a wall closet and a loft. Perhaps there were also several household items, including a Korean rug, in the room, but now nothing remains here.

17.The Seonhyangjae

If one had his own children in the Yeongyeongdang, he would have made every effort to provide them with a good education, for which an able teacher and many good books in the library were most important. The Seonhyangjae here functioned as the library and school of the Royal family.

The Seonhyangjae faces west, and in summer, the sunshine struck the building at sunset. A structure was, therefore, installed at the outside of the building to prevent strong sunshine from coming into the room; for example, an oil-papered blind, etc. In addition, it was decorated with a bronze plate on the roof. In this respect, this was one of the most luxurious buildings of its kind in Korea.

18.The Gwallamjeong (Pavilion)

The Gwallamjeong stands at the edge of the pond of Bandoji. The plane of it is in the shape of an extended fan. The floor and roof were built of the curved materials which were suitable for the morphology of the pavilion. This is characteristic of the Gwallamjeong. Nobody knows exactly when this pavilion was built, but it is inferred that the pavilion was built any time between the end of the Joseon dynasty and the early Colonial period.

19.The Ongnyucheon (Stream)

This garden, which was built in 1636, occupies the inner most part of the Changdeokgung palace. The Ongnyuncheon stream and the water from the Eojeong well pass through the garden, in which several pavilions, including the Cheonguijeong, the Soyojeong, the Taegeukjong, the Chwihanjeong, were properly arranged along the stream Each pavilion had a simple stone bridge over the stream to provide a way across for pedestrians.

Just next to the Eojeong well, there is a large natural rock called “Soyoam” on which a curved waterway in the shape of “L” is carved and a poem inscribed. At the end of the rock, there is a manmade waterfall as well. In front of each pavilion, a small pond was constructed too, but the only Cheonguijeong with straw-thatched roof is erected in the center of a small rice field. The cool water and deep forest makes the garden fresh and cool even in hot summer. In particular, the forest here reminds us of a remote mountainous region. If one sits on the bank of the Ongnyucheon and gazes at the cloud and fog rising up from the surface of it, he can feel as if he is in a Utopia shrouded in fog.

It was in 1636 that the curve waterway and the waterfall were made here. “玉流川” inscribed on the rock was written by King Injo himself, and a poem on it is assumed to have been engraved in 1690 in light of the note just beside the poem, which reads,” “The stream flows away beyond the measurement, and the waterfall plummets down from the sky. These remind me of white rainbow, thunder, and light all over the valley.

20.The Uirojeon(Hall)

21.The New Seonwonjeon (Shrine)

In Korea, every dynasty had its own Seonwonjeon in which former kings’ portraits were enshrined. This is the last existing Seonwonjeon of the Joseon dynasty, and it is located in the innermost part of the Changdeokgung Palace. In the Seonwonjeon of the Changdeokgung Palace, ther are many niches and in each niche only a king’s portrait was enshrined; for example, King Taejo in niche No. 1. King Sejo in No. 2, King Wonjong in No. 3, King Sukjong in No.4, King Yeongjo in No. 5, King Jeongjo in No.6, King Sunjo in No. 7, King Munjo in No.8, King Heonjong in No. 9, King Cheoljong in No. 10, and Gojong in No.11. On each King’s birthday, a memorial rite was held here.

During the Korean War, the portaits enshrined here were moved to Busan, but all were burned to ashes. This Seonwonjeon is composed of a main shrine and some annexes, including a square pond, a warehouse, and several pavilions like the Mongdapjeong.


Korean World Heritage

Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple(1995)


A small but noble pantheon of divinities symbolizing Buddhist philosophy and aestheticism, Seokguram is a structure of sublime beauty culminating religious belief, science and fine arts, which flowered in the golden age of Asian art

Overlooking the East Sea far ahead beyond the mountain ridges from the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula, Seokguram stands as a proud testimony to Korea’s brilliant tradition of classical Buddhist sculpture. A small but noble pantheon of divinities symbolizing Buddhist philosophy and aestheticism, the eighth-century cave temple is a structure of sublime beauty culminating religious belief, science and fine arts, which flowered in the golden age of Asian art. Seokguram is located near the summit of Mt. Tohamsan, east of the historic city of Gyeongju, capital of the Silla Kingdom (57B.C.-A.D.935).

It is reached after an hour-long walk up a steep, winding mountain path over some four km from Bulguksa, another famous temple dating to the eighth century when Silla was at the peak of its strength. The capital of Silla rivalled in splendor the Dang capital of Jangan and its culture shared in the international character of Dang at this time when all of East Asia enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity.

Buddhism first reached Korea in the fourth century through China but it truly flowered only after the court of Silla officially recognized it as the state religion.

After Silla unified the peninsula in the mid-seventh century by conquering the rival states of Goguryeo and Baekje, Buddhism not only served a religious function but was looked upon as a protective force. Temples of magnificent scale were erected in and around Gyeongju as they were regarded as a supernatural defense against external threats and bastions of national consciousness. According to the scant historical records available today, both Seokguram and Bulguksa, the two supreme accomplishments of Silla Buddhist architecture, were built under the supervision of Kim Dae-seong, who came from the royal family and served as prime minister under the reign of King Gyeongdeok.

The construction began in 742, the year after Kim resigned from his top position in court. He died in 774 without seeing the completion of the historic projects several years later under the reign of King Hyegong. As a complement to Bulguksa, which was dedicated to the present generation, the granite temple of Seokguram is said to have been intended to honor those who had been Kim’s parents in his previous life. Whoever the patron or whatever the motivation, Seokguram was apparently designed as a private chapel for royalty considering its scale, philosophical depth and aesthetic standard, whereas Bulguksa, a grand complex of various worship halls and pagodas, was intended as a state monastery to serve the public.

Too small and cozy to have been conceived as a place for congregation in spite of the enormous resources required for its construction, the grotto shrine represents a pinnacle of religious sculpture not only in Korea but in all of East Asia.

One of Korea’s most popular tourist destinations drawing thousands of visitors from home and abroad daily, Seokguram recalls the long journey Buddhism made from its homeland of India through central Asia and China to Korea. A gem of ancient Buddhist architecture punctuating the eastern terminal of the Silk Road, the shrine testifies to the enthusiasm and sacrifice of early Korean monk pilgrims who risked their lives to experience firsthand the exotic traditions of their faith in the far off land of India. Buddhist grottos are generally believed to have originated in ancient India.

They are divided largely into two kinds according to form and purpose: caitya, literally a “sanctuary” or a hall containing a sacred object to be worshipped such as a small stupa or a Buddha image; and vihara, a monastery or shelter for monks, often with chapels for images or a stupa placed in the central court which also served as a place for instruction. Grottos in the caitya style were later adopted by the Chinese in the hundreds of caves stretching over a mile along the cliffs of Dunhuang and the sandstone hills of Yungang. Seokguram, with a rectangular antechamber leading to a circular domed main chamber, resembles ancient Indian cave temples.

Though inspired by the cave temples of ancient India and China, Seokguram differs in construction to its prototypes which were mostly built by digging into hillsides and carving on natural rocks. Korea’s topographical features comprising solid rock beds probably made it impossible to import the idea of the sculptors of Karle or Ajanta, who carved thousands of figures, stupas and apse ends out of the soft conglomerate rock and clay. Instead, an incredible artificial cave was assembled with granite on the heights of a mountain some 750meters above sea level, an architectural technique without precedent the world over.

Bulguksa: The Temple of Buddha Land

As the name indicates, Bulguksa was designed as a realization of the blissful land of the Buddha in the present world. It was intended to embody the happy land where the mortal being is released from the suffering of life by following the teachings of the Buddha, or the Lotus Land as promised in the Avatamsaka Sutra, which offered the theoretical foundation for construction of the temple. Therefore, the temple had to be not only faithful to the teachings of the Buddha but beautiful as well. It is obvious that prominent monks and artists contributed their thoughts and aesthetic ingeniousness to build the temple under the guidance of Kim Dae-Seong, who was a devoted believer and able administrator with a remarkable eye for beauty.

An imposing complex of beautiful wooden shrines and stone pagodas built upon decorative stone terraces, the temple stands on the western midslope of Mt. Tohamsan overlooking fertile plains and the mythical mountain, Namsan, beyond. The elevated compound is reached by climing up thirty-three stone stairs adorned with elaborate railings, named the Bridge of White Cloud and the Bridge of Blue Cloud, which symbolize the thirty-three heavens.

The cloistered sanctuary is divided into two realms, the land of Seokgamoni Buddha and the land of Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light. The “impure land” of Seakgamoni Buddha is larger and higher than the “pure land” of Amitabha. This is because Seokgamoni is praised as the more noble for the chose to appear in the mundane world out of his great compassion. The main courtyard which is dedicated to Seoakgamoni, the Historic Buddha, includes Daeungjeon, the main worship hall enshrining a gilt-bronze buddha triad. A pair of famous pagodas, Seokgatap, or the Seokgamoni Pagoda, and Tabotap, or the Pagoda of Many Treasures, stand in front of the main worship hall, A lecture hall named Musolijeon, or the Hall of No Discourse, stands to the north of the worship hall. The shrines of Vairocana and Avalokitesvara stand at the back of the lecture hall.

Geungnakjeon, or the Paradise Hall, dedicated to Amitabha, the Buddha of Western Paradise, is located to the west of the main courtyard. From the outer terrain, the hall is reached through a separate gate and stairs named the Lotus Bridge and Bridge of Seven Treasures. Amitabha, who vowed that all who believed in him and who called upon his name would be born into his paradise, has a broad following among Koreans. Faith alone ensures rebirth in his paradise, so it is certainly easier than self-attainment leading to enlightenment.
Among the many treasures of Bulguksa, the pagoda pair in the main courtyard have an unmatched reputation. Indeed, part of the fame of Bulguksa itself is owing to this unique pair. The princely dignity and simplicity of the Seokgamoni Pagoda dramatically enhances the complexity of the Pagoda of Many Treasures that stands some 100 feet away with its lavish decorative details. The two stone pagoda have stood in dynamic contrast for over 12 centuries surviving the flames of war that engulfed all of the temple’s original wooden structures. None of the some thousand stone pagodas scattered across Korea excel them for profound philosophical depth and aesthetic charm.

The Seokgamoni Pagoda represents the finest style of Korean Buddhist pagodas that evolved from China’s multistoried pavilion-type wooden pagodas. The three-story pagoda is admired for its proportions and simple but graceful style. The highly decorative Tabotap, symbolizing Prabhutaratna Buddha, is an exceptional case that demonstrates the wondrous skill of Unified Silla masonry. The pagoda features what is assumed to be an enlarged version of a luxurious sarira shrine supported by a roof-like square slab resting on four pillars and massive brackets. The pillars stand on an elevated platform approached by four staircases, each with 10 steps symbolizing the 10 paramitas, or great virtues.

The arrangement of the two pagodas was inspired by the legend that when Seokgamoni preached the Lotus Sutra, the pagoda of Prabhutaratna emerged out of the earth in witness of the greatness and truth of his teaching. Meanwhile, the Seokgamoni Pagoda is also called the “Pagoda without Reflections,” denoting the sad legend of Asanyeo, wife of the Baekje mason, Asadal, who built the pagoda. The poor woman came to Gyeongju to see her husband as years had passed without any news from him. No outsiders were allowed into the site of a holy project and she was told to wait by a pond near the temple until the completed pagoda cast a reflection in the water. She waited in vain and finally threw herself into the pond.

A collection of precious treasures was found in the Seokgamoni Pagoda during repair work in 1966. They include a paper scroll of the Pure Light Dharani Sutra, printed between 706 and 751. Measuring 6.2 meters in length and 6.7 centimeters in width, the scroll is recognized as the world’s oldest printed material. The pagoda also yielded three sets of exquisitely decorated sarira containers including a gilt-bronze casket in elaborate openwork, a gilt-bronze box with a fine engraving of bodhisattvas and heavenly kings, and a glass bottle containing 46 grains of holy relics.

The Pagoda of Many Treasures was dismantled and reassembled by the Japanese in the 1920s but no record concerning the repair or the treasures found inside it remains. Back in 1593 during the Hideyoshi invasions, a group of Japanese pirates set fire to the temple upon discovering weapons hidden in one of its shrines. All of the wooden structures were burnt down at this time. The temple was reconstructed over a period of 150 years beginning in 1604 but never regained its old splendor.

The foundations of lost structures were excavated in an intensive investigation conducted in 1969. Based on the result of the excavation, several buildings and cloisters were reconstructed and the stone terraces were repaired in the early 1970s. But a lotus pond known to have existed beneath the staircases leading up to the main courtyard was left out of the renovations.

Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories of theTripitaka Koreana Woodblocks(1995)

Its religious significance aside, the Tripitaka Koreana preserved in impeccable condition testifies to the outstanding achievements of medieval Koreans in science and technology, especially printing and publishing.

Every day at the wee hour of three o’clock in the morning, the monks wake up to the deep, reverberation sound of ancient instruments coming from a music pavilion in the main courtyard of the temple. The clergy assemble within half an hour for a predawn service in accordance with the time-hon-ored regulations of monastic life. With their hearts cleansed of all worldly concerns, the monks from all ranks of the community worship the Buddha and chant holy sutras to the beating of wooden gongs as the pious sound echoes along the still pitch-dark mountain valley. For the past twelve centuries, Mt.Gayasan in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province, has been home to one of Korea’s most treasured Buddhist monasteries, Haeinsa, or the “Temple of Reflections on a Calm Sea,” and its many hermitages.

Famous for the stunning beauty of its craggy peaks and peaceful valleys with burbling streams lined with lush foliage, Mt.Gayasan is believed to have been named after a mountain in Buddha Gaya, India, where Seokgamoni, the Historic Buddha, attained enlightenment. Or, some contend that the name was derived from the Gaya league of tribal states which thrived in the southeastern province from around the first century B.C. to the sixth century A.D. ,before the neighboring Silla expanded its territory to unify the peninsula. Korea’s ancient center of the Avatamsaka (Huayen in Chinese and Hwa-eom in Korean) school of Buddhism, Haeinsa was established by two enlightened monks, Suneung and ljeong, in 802 during the Unified Silla period. Its name was taken from a phrase in the Avatamsaka (The Great and Vast buddha Garland) sutra, which compares the wisdom of Buddha to a calm sea. When the sea, that is the human mind, is freed from the wild waves of worldly desires and follies, it will finally attain a mirror-like peacefulness where the true image of all existence is clearly reflected.

Most Koreans instantly associate Haeinsa with the Tripitaka Koreana, a 13th century edition of scriptures known to be the world’s most comprehensive and oldest intact version of Buddhist canon in Chinese script. This is one reason why the temple, tucked away in a secluded valley in the deep mountains, has maintained its reputation as a religious heaven among Korean Buddists over the centuries. Haeinsa is one of Korea’s three major temple which represent the “three jewels of Buddhism,” that is, the Buddha, the sutra and the monks. No doubt that, aside from their normal clerical duties, the temple’s some 500-strong legion of bhikkhus is responsible for protecting their “jewel,” the 81,258 wooden blocks for printing the scriptures, which have been housed in the temple since 1398.

Thus have I heard… These are the words with which the disciples of the Historic Buddha began their recitations of the Enlightened One’s sermons. This indicates that his teaching had been transmitted orally before it was written down. The compilation of the Tripitaka, as the Buddhist canon is known, took place during a council convened by the Indian Emperor Asoka around 250 B.C., some two centuries after the Buddha’s death. The sacred texts were copied by hand and translated into various languages over the following centuries as the Buddha’s teaching spread all over Asia.

Jongmyo Shrine(1995)

Throughout much of traditional Asian culture, including China and Korea, rite has been highly important, and in modern society preserving rite carries with it the meaning of maintaining basic social order. There are a number of rituals which are considered important forms of rite, and the most significant of these in Korea are the Jongmyo and the Sajik rituals. Jongmyo is the term used for a place where memorial services are performed for deceased kings, and Sajik is the term for a place where services for the Gods of Earth and Crops are performed. These rituals are symbols for nations themselves in that they guarantee order and successful ruling of the nation. Consequently, due to the importance of these rituals, the Jongmyo and Sajik shrines where the rituals are performed are classic in their architectural grace, detail and beauty.

Although such facilities existed in Korea as early as the Three Kingdoms Period, those that remain today in Seoul are from the Joseon Dynasty(1392-1910).

The first Jongmyo of the dynasty was erected in Seoul in 1395, and the main hall, Jeongjeon, contained 7 rooms, One room was used for the memorial tablets of one king and his queen. The 4th king of the dynasty, King Sejong, had an additional hall, Yeongnyeongjeon(“Hall of Eternal comfort”), built beside the main hall to house all of the tablets which could not be housed in the main hall. With successive reigns and an increasingly large number of memorial tablets, however, additions had to be made to the facilities.

Rooms were added from west to east until there ware a total of 19. The original Jongmyo, however, was destroyed in 1592, and today’s Jongmyo was built in 1608. Jongmyo was located to the left of the main palace, Gyeongbokgung, and Sajik was built to the right (as viewed from the king’s throne), a tradition of planning which goes back to ancient China. The main hill of the Jongmyo complex is called Yeungbong, and from it a number of smaller hills extend southward until they encompass the Jongmyo compound of the Jeongjeon, Yeongnyeongjeon and other auxiliary buildings. They were built according to terrain, however, and in totality they appear to the modern eye not to be very balanced in distribution. Jeongjeon is comprised of 19 identical rooms, and they are extremely simple with no ornamentation. However, the building as a whole is both grand and impressive, and the twenty thick, round pillars sufficiently project the dignity and grandeur of royalty. In front of Jeongjeon is an impressive 150-meter-long, 100-meter-wide elevated stone yard called “Woldae” which is used during ceremonies by musicians, dancers and other participants. The large stone blocks which compose the yard provide a striking and solemn atmosphere as they lay in silence before Jeongjeon, and the yard greatly complements the architecture. The Jongmyo ritual itself has been designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property by the government not only for its historical importance but for the splendor of the music, dance and ceremony.

Changdeokgung Palace Complex(1997)

Located in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, Changdeokgung Palace was built during the Joseon Dynasty(1395 – 1910) and has more buildings preserved than any other palace from that period. The palace is designated as Historical Site No. 122 and covers a total area of 580,000 square meters, although the main palace grounds which do not include the Secret Gardens cover an area of 120,000 square meters.

The capital of the Joseon Dynasty was moved from Gaeseong in the north to Hanyang(today’s Seoul) in 1392, but construction of the palace actually began in October of 1404 during the 4th year of the reign of King Taejong. Construction of the main building Jeongjeon began in February of 1405 and was completed in October of the same year.

From then on, the palace was called Changdeokgung or “Palace of Prospering Virtue.” Since the palace was located in the east of the existing palace, Gyeongbokgung, it was often referred to as “East Palace.”

The current palace grounds are somewhat larger than the original grounds, since succeeding kings often had additions made during the palace’s long history, and Changdeokgung palace was a favorite place of the kings during the dynasty. Although Gyeongbokgung Palace was in fact larger, Changdeokgung was a favorite of the kings because it was the most purely Korean of all the palaces.

Gyeongbokgung Palace was built on level ground and served the official functions of a palace. It was built according to planning and specifications for an official residence to meet the requirements of the capital city. Changdeokgung Palace, however, was designed and built according to more Korean specifications handed down from the Three Kingdoms Period, and consequently retained much more that was uniquely Korean.

After the Japanese Occupation which began in 1910 however, parts of the palace grounds were rearranged, partially destroyed, and even taken to Japan. As with the other palaces, Changdeokgung Palace also had many of its auxiliary buildings removed, and in general the grounds lost much of their authenticity. Changdeokgung Palace was ideally located, however: to the east was Changgyeonggung Palace, to the southeast was Jongmyo (site of the royal family’s ancestral tablets and memorial shrines), and to the west was the official residence,Gyeongbokgung Palace.

The main structures of Changdeokgung Palace include the gate, Donhwamun, the beautiful granite bridge Geumcheongyo, and Injeongjeon which served for official state functions. Seonjeongjeon was used for affairs of state between the king and his ministers. Daejojeon served as the queen’s guarders as well as the king’s sleeping quarters, and as educational quarters for the princes. The original quarters were destroyed on several occasions, and during the Japanese Occupation the existing quarters became somewhat westernized. The current quarters are a combination of both Korean and western styles.

Other major buildings on the palace grounds included Hamwonjeon, Gyeonghungak, Gajeongdang, Eochago, Naeuiwon and Seongjeonggak, Gwanmulhon, the old Seonwonjeon, Nakseonje, Chwiwunjeong, Hanjeongdang, Sangnyangjeong, Manwolmun, Sunghwaru, Samsamwa, and Chilbunso.

A particularly distinctive feature of Changdeokgung Palace is the fact that it was built with minimum effect on the natural environment and designed to harmonize with nature as completely as possible. Buildings were designed and constructed to blend easily with the immediate surroundings and even directions were given for careful consideration in planning and building. Space was utilized to provide distinctly different atmospheres throughout the grounds. Also, careful consideration was given to provide continuous yet different views from each site on the grounds.

At the same time, however, the grounds retained a great deal of privacy for palace life, as evidenced by the small number of entrances. But there is a large number of artifacts which have been preserved to inform us of life in the inner world of the palace. And even today, Changdeokgung Palace remains the most Korean of all palaces.

Hwaseong Fortress(1997)

The fortress is the shining accomplishment of a sagacious king who led a political and cultural renaissance with the counsel of young scholars seeking institutional reforms and practical application of academic theories.

“Oh! Sadness! How can I ever put into words what happened that day? The sky and the earth seemed to come together; the sun seemed to be losing light, and everything went dark.” So said Lady Hyegyeong, a princess of the 18th century Joseon dynasty, in her tearful memoirs.

She said she had no desire to linger in this world for even one more second after the terrifying filicide. “I desperately wanted to kill myself; I looked for something sharp, but found nothing. ” In her autobiographical account, Hanjungnok (Reminiscences in Retirement), a masterpiece of court literature and an invaluable historical record, Lady Hyegyeong recalls the death of her husband, Prince Sado, in what is undisputably the most bizarre incident in the five-century history of the Joseon royal court. One hot summer day in 1762, King Yeongjo ordered the crown prince to commit suicide, accusing him of undermining morality in the royal household and plotting a rebellion. When the poor prince’s repeated efforts to kill himself failed, the enraged king ordered his son to climb into a large wooden rice chest and locked it up himself.

The 27-year-old prince died of hunger in the rice chest eight days later. In her memoirs, a vivid account of her personal ordeal as well as a veritable political testimony, Lady Hyegyeong contends that the fateful incident was motivated by the rampant factional strife in court and a personality conflict between the dogmatic reigning king and his introverted son, the heir apparent. Despite deep chagrin and a professed desire to end her life, Lady Hyegyeong lived on and lent support her son who had been left vulnerable by his father’s tragic death. She explained that she could not double the sorrow of her little son by following her husband to death. “And, even more important than that, I was deeply concerned how the Grand Heir would do without me as the future King.” The Grand Heir, who was not yet ten, grew up into a wise monarch. Endowed with the posthumous title of Jeongjo, he was an able administrator of state affairs and a staunch patron of science and the arts, helping the nation embark on its modernization process.
Stigmatized by the traumatic childhood experience surrounding his father’s death and the imperfect legitimacy of his authority, Jeongjo is also recognized for his extraordinary filial devotion. He reinstated his father’s title of crown prince in 1777, the year after he came to the throne succeeding his grandfather, Yeongjo. In 1789, When his royal authority had gained a solid base and the nation prospered under his rule, Jeongjo ordered his father’s tomb be moved from the eastern suburbs of Seoul to Mt. Hwasan, about 8km from the present city of Suwon, which was commended as the most auspicious site in the country. The old Suwon Magistracy was upgraded to a separate capital and a beautiful fortress was constructed around the booming new town, named Hwaseong, meaning “Brilliant Fortress.”

Embracing the busy downtown area of the present Suwon-si, capital of Gyeonggi-do, some 30km south of Seoul, Hwaseong Fortress embodies Jeongjo’s devotion to his ill-fated father and his ideals for a modern administrative and commercial center with stalwart defense. The 5.74Km wall, fortified with various military facilities, is the shining accomplishment of a sagacious king who led a political and cultural renaissance with the counsel of young scholars seeking institutional reforms and practical application of academic theories. To stroll along the fortress is to share the aspirations of an ancient king who use admirable academic and artistic expertise to build a city of fresh conception, ensuring that the industrial activities of its residents are protected from external invasions. For those who are inclined to historical romance, the King’s tragic childhood experience and his lauded affection for his parents adds a rueful color to the excursion along the fortress, parapeted with crenels and merlons and highlighted by lofty watch towers and secret gates leading down to dark labyrinths. Hwaseong Fortress stretches over changing terrain from high mountain ridges overlooking a crowded urban center to flatland park with well-tended lawn to a bustling marketplace surrounded by a densely populated neighborhood. The fortress looks remarkably different from most other ancient town walls and military fortifications scattered around Korea. It stands out not only for its diverse functions but the aesthetic novelty and technical innovation involved in its planning and construction.

Gyeongju Historic Areas(2000)

The Gyeongju Historic Areas contain a remarkable concentration of outstanding examples of Korean Buddhist art, in the form of sculptures, reliefs, pagodas, and the remains of temples and palaces from the flowering of this form of unique artistic expression. Gyeongju City and its surroundings have inherited traces of the glory that flowered and withered in the ancient Silla Kingdom (BC 57 – AD 935).

The centre of the town and its suburbs contain many royal burial mounds and Buddhist remains which preserve this apogee of art and culture.

Excavations continue to reveal the buried secrets of this enchanted city. Before the arrival of Buddhism in the early Silla period, Mount Namsan in Gyeongju City was worshipped as one of the five sacred mountains. It was the seat of a refined form of shamanism with elements of native cults, fetishism, and animism. With the spread of Buddhism it became the earthly representation of Sumeru, the heavenly mountain of the Buddhist lands. Its gorges and ridges are embellished with granite pagodas, filigree works, pottery buried in the earth for more than a thousand years, impressive royal graves and palace sites, and stone sculptures and rock-cut reliefs of Buddha. It is a treasure house of thousands of relics that embody Buddhist benevolence and law. The Buddhism of the Silla Kingdom was intimately linked with its sovereign power, with social and state affairs, and with family well-being. The Gyeongju historic areas constitute a reserve of materials for studying Buddhist culture and the arts of the Far East. The ruins of Wolseong, the Half Moon Palace, many temple and fortress sites, including Hwangnyongsa, the Temple of the Yellow Dragon, huge royal mounds, and ancient wells and bridges have provided a wealth of archaeological data and will continue to do so. The legends of the Gyeongju Kim clan, the family that ruled throughout most of the Silla Kingdom, are located in the serene woods of Gyerim. Cheomseongdae is the most exquisite example of an astronomical observatory in the Orient. The Gyeongju Historic areas may be considered to be an outdoor museum housing many cultural properties centred on Mount Namsan and its surroundings. The craftsmen of the Silla Kingdom worked stone and wood with spontaneity and great artistry.

Management and Protection Legal status

More than sixty sites and monuments are designated and managed as historic sites under the provisions of Sections 4 and 6 of the Korean Protection of Cultural Properties Act and Sections 12 and 18 of the Cultural Property Protection Ordinance of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. The entire area nominated for inscription was designated as a national park under Sections 4 and 5 of the National Park Law. These two sets of protection legislation severely restrict any form of development within the nominated area. The Urban Planning Law imposes further constraints on all forms of development in and around the protected areas. Each of the components of the nominated area is surrounded by wide buffer zone. All proposals for construction within these zones require authorization in the form of a permit from the Provincial Governor, as prescribed in Section 74 of the Cultural Properties Protection Act. Furthermore, no extraction of gravel or other aggregate material is permitted within a zone two km wide around each of the protected areas. The sites are also designated as Natural Environment Preservation Zones under Section 13 of the National Land Use Management Act. Any changes that might affect the topography require authorization by the Cultural Heritage Administration.


The nominated areas are all the property of the Republic of Korea.
At the national level, the Cultural Heritage Administration is responsible for establishing protection policies and enforcing them. Its subsidiary, the National Research Institute of Cultural Properties, carries out scientific research and field surveys. Direct management is delegated to the administration of Gyeongju City. Repair work and maintenance on national designated sites and monuments are financed by national (70%) and local (30%) funds. For locally designated monuments the proportions contributed by national and local government are 50:50. There are currently management plans in force for the Gyeongju Historic Areas, on the Preservation of the Original Status of the Historic Areas, Preservation of the Surrounding Environment of the Historic Areas, and Utilizing the Gyeongju Historic Areas for the Education of Citizens and for Field Studies by Students. However, little information about these plans is provided in the nomination dossier. They include the establishment of long-term plans, the strengthening of measures against forest fires, floods, and other natural calamities, a scientific research programme, including archaeological excavations, and a policy of seeking systematic investment and site-management proposals that are eco-friendly and consistent with world-class tourist policies. In addition there are programmes for regular conservation and maintenance of sculptural and monumental antiquities and for selective restoration, based on thorough prior scientific research. There are proposals for the purchase of private land adjoining the protected areas which are known to contain significant archaeological evidence. Regular monitoring will be carried out on the open sites, to check any illegal use of the land for unauthorized burials or shamanistic rites. Parking facilities are to be extended and marked paths laid out so as to prevent uncontrolled access to the land.

Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites

The prehistoric cemeteries at Gochang, Hwasun, and Gangwha contain many hundreds of examples of dolmens, tombs from the 1st millennium BCE constructed of large stone slabs. They form part of the Megalithic culture, to be found in many parts of the world, but nowhere in such a concentrated form. Dolmens are megalithic funerary monuments, which are numerous in Asia, Europe, and North Africa. Korea has the greatest number of any country.

These are of great archaeological value for the information that they provide about the prehistoric peoples who built them and their social and political systems, beliefs and rituals, arts and ceremonies, etc.
The Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa sites contain the highest density and greatest variety of dolmens in Korea, and indeed of any country. They also preserve important evidence of how the stones were quarried, transported, and raised and of how dolmen types changed over time in north-east Asia.

History and Description


Dolmens are manifestations of the “Megalithic” culture that figured prominently in Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures across the world during the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE. This use of large stones resulted from the emergence of new technologies and led to the creation of stone alignments and ritual circles such as Stonehenge and the Orkney monuments in the United Kingdom, the chambered tombs of Brugh na B inne in Ireland, and the stone circles and tombs of West Africa.

They are a notable feature of the prehistory of East Asia during the 1st millennium BCE. They are to be found in western China (Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu) and the coastal areas of the Yellow Sea basin (the Shandong peninsula, north-western Kyushu). Dolmens appear to have arrived in the Korean peninsula with the Bronze Age.

The Jungnim-ri group in Gochang are considered on the basis of archaeological data to date from around the 7th century BCE. Dolmen construction ceased here in the 3rd century BCE. The Hwasun dolmens are a little later, from the 6th-5th centuries BCE. There are insufficient data to permit dating of the Ganghwa group, but they are thought to be earlier rather than later.


Dolmens usually consist of two or more undressed stone slabs supporting a huge capstone. It is generally accepted that they were simple burial chambers, erected over the bodies or bones of Neolithic and Bronze Age worthies. Earth mounds (barrows) would have covered them, but these would gradually disappear as a result of weathering and animal action. However, it is also possible that they were platforms on which corpses were exposed to permit the process of excarnation to take place, leaving bones for burial in collective or family tombs. Dolmens are usually to be found in cemeteries on elevated sites. This would permit them to be seen from the settlements of the people who built them, which were usually on lower-lying ground. In East Asia two main groups have been recognized, classified according to their form: the table type (the northern type) and the go-board type (the southern type). The first is an above-ground construction: four stone slabs are set up en edge to form a box or cist and a large capstone is laid on top. In the second case, the burial chamber is constructed below ground, with walls of slabs or piled stones; the capstone is supported on a number of stones laid on the ground. The so-called “capstone” type is a variant of the go-board type in which the capstone is laid directly on the buried slabs.

Gochang Dolmen Sites (8.38ha)

The Jungnim-ri dolmens, the largest and most diversified group, centre on the village of Maesan. Most of them are located at altitudes of 15-50m along the southern foot of the hills running east-west. The capstones of the dolmens here are 1-5.8m in length and can weigh 10-300t. A total of 442 dolmens has been recorded, of various types, based on the shape of the capstone.

Hwasun Dolmen Sites (31ha)

Like those in the Gochang group, the Hwasun dolmens are located on the slopes of low ranges of hills, along the Jiseokgang river. Individual dolmens in this area are less intact than those in Gochang. The Hyosan-ri group is estimated to comprise 158 monuments and the Daesin-ri group 129. In a number of cases the stone outcrops from which the stones making up the dolmens were quarried can be identified.

Ganghwa Dolmen Sites (12.27ha)

These sites are on the offshore island of Gangwha, once again on mountain slopes. They tend to be higher than those in the other sites and stylistically early, notably those at Bugun-ri and Gocheon-ri. Management and Protection Legal status The three sites are designated Historic Sites or Local Monuments under the provisions of the Protection of Cultural Properties. Together with their buffer zones they are further designated Cultural Property Protection Zones under the same law.

As a result, any form of development or intervention requires authorization and the carrying out of an Environmental Impact Assessment. Any repair work must be carried out by licensed specialists. The sites must be open to the general public. The sites are also designated Natural Environment Preservation Zones under the National Land Use Management Law and similar constraints apply.


All the properties belong to the Government of the Republic of Korea. Overall responsibility for the preparation and implementation of protection and conservation policies at national level rests with the Cultural Properties Administration. The National Research Institute of Cultural Properties, an agency of the Cultural Properties Administration, carries out academic research, field survey, and excavation (in association with university museums). Day-to-day preservation and management is the responsibility of the relevant local administrations (respectively Jeollabuk-do Province, Gochang-gun County; Jeollanam-do Province, Hwasun-gun County; and Incheon Metropolitan City). Funding for repair work is provided by the central government under the terms of the Protection of Cultural Properties Act. Other sources of funding are the revenues from admission fees to the sites and private donations. Anticipated visitor figures are 350,000 (Gochang), 300,000 (Hwasun), and 280,000 (Ganghwa). Management plans have been drawn up in respect of the three properties. Their primary objective is preservation of the original character of the dolmen sites and their immediate environments. The plans cover scientific research (survey, inventory, selected excavation, palaeo-environmental studies), protection of the environment (selective clearance of vegetational cover, routing of visitors so as to cause minimal impact on the natural environment, purchase of neighbouring farmland to prevent incursions, etc), systematic monitoring, and presentational aspects (signage, access roads and parking, interpretation facilities, increasing public awareness and participation of local communities, organization of festivals and other events on-site).

Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes

Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes comprises three sites that together make up 18,846 ha, 10.3% of the surface area of Jeju Island, the southernmost territory of the Republic of Korea. It includes: Geomunoreum, regarded as the finest lave tube system of caves anywhere, with its multi-coloured carbonate roofs and floors, and dark-coloured lava walls; the fortress-like Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone, rising out of the ocean, a dramatic landscape; and Mount Hallasan, the highest in Korea, with its waterfalls, multi-shaped rock formations, and lake-filled crater. The property, of outstanding aesthetic beauty, also bears testimony to the history of our planet; to its features and processes.

Jeju Island is the southern most point of the Republic of Korea. It is an ellipsoid with the major axis lying southwest-northeast, with its area 183,160 ha. Volcanic activities of Jeju Volcano began at the end of Tertiary Period at a hot spot on the sea bottom. The island was built up to the sea level as a result of volcanic activities that began approximately 1.2 million years ago. In the center of the island, Mt. Hallasan rises 1,950 meters above sea level.

Numerous parasitic cones (oreum; oreum is the Jeju dialect for a parasitic volcanic cone) are widely distributed throughout the island. On Jeju Island, which is comprised of basaltic lava and tuffs, diverse volcanic landscapes, resulting from volcanic activities, are still developing. Some of the landscapes include the shield volcano, exemplified by those forming around Mt. Hallasan, the small-scale parasitic volcanoes, represented by Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone, and the lava tubes that are formed in the basaltic lava flows. Together, these volcanic features form a significant portion of the world’s natural reserve.

Other developments resulting from volcanic activities include the trachyte dome, numerous and spectacular columnar jointing during the solidification of the lava, basaltic tuff cliffs and composite volcanoes that rely on the ever-changing acts and forms of volcanic activities. Avian and hominid footprint fossils are also found on this island. Thus, it is a place where important cross-sections of landscape evolution arising from the effects of volcanic activity can be studied. These are an important part of the Earth’s topographic evolution. There are numerous lava tubes in Jeju Island. Some of these tubes contained artifacts used by prehistoric men, and have been used as a shelter or sacred place. In addition, organisms peculiar to cave habitats are found inside the lava tubes.

In addition, owing to the peculiarities of its volcanic topography and isolation after the last glaciation, there are many plant and animal species which are endemic to the island, most of which are distributed on Mt. Hallasan. Ecological characteristics of Mt. Hallasan includes the clear vertical distribution of its diverse flora, the formation of subalpine evergreen coniferous forest of Korean fir (Abies koreana) at the top of the mountain, and the presence of arctic or alpine plants which have migrated to the top due to climatic warming during Holocene Epoch.

Having been recognized as a representative ecosystem in the subtropical and temperate rainforest biogeographic province in East Asia, Mt. Hallasan, with its surrounding transition area and marine areas in the Seogwipo City Marine Park, was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002 (Fig. Ap.1-5, Appendix 1).

Jeju Island Biosphere Reserve is the second Biosphere Reserve in the Republic of Korea. It has an area of 83,094 ha. The two parts of the World Heritage site are found within the present boundary of the Biosphere Reserve. These are the Hallasan Natural Reserve in the Biosphere Reserve core area and a part of the Geomunoreum Lava Tube System and its buffer zone, which are within the Biosphere Reserve transition area.

The Jeju Provincial Government, which administers management of the Biosphere Reserve as well as the inscribed property, is examining zonation modification as well as the boundary extension of the Biosphere Reserve in order to adapt more properly to the Island’s protected area system including the World Heritage nomination.

The government will manage the natural values of the island in an integrated manner so as to fulfill different but complementary goals of the World Heritage Site and the Biosphere Reserve. With many endemic plants and animals, as well as the spectacular landscapes provided by the inscribed properties, Jeju Island attracts not only experts in geology, biology and speleology, but also over five million tourists and visitors. Large proportion of the inscribed property is subject to strict conservation regimes, and only a few limited parts, in a manner which can accommodate many visitors without damaging the property such as wooden or paved trails, are open to the public due to the fragile nature of the volcanic landscape.

 Hallasan Natural Reserve

Mt. Hallasan is an aspite-type shield volcano, displaying diverse volcanic characteristics such as crater lakes, columnar joints, trachyte dome and lava plains. Throughout the region, numerous parasitic cones can be found that have contributed to the developmental history of a typical volcanic landscape. The pristine state of Mt. Hallasan, as a shield volcano, is preserved in Hallasan Natural Reserve.

Where weathering and erosion have contributed to the development of the landscape, they have produced additional landscape features or have provided opportunities to view the interior of the landscape.

Currently the area, covering approximately 15,338.6 ha, is designated as a National Park (since 1970), the center of which is designated as a Natural Monument (Natural Monument No. 182 since 1966) with an area of 9,093 ha. As such, a large part of the entire area is under careful management so as to prevent damage from human activities.

Moreover, it remains relatively free from serious natural disasters such as earthquakes. At the summit of Mt. Hallasan, a prominent trachyte dome was formed by intrusion and emplacement 25,000-30,000 years ago.

In addition, a crater, surrounded by trachytic basalt and the trachyte dome, can also be found at the summit. This crater (1.6 ha), which is 108 m deep and about 550 m in diameter, holds a lake. Around the periphery of the crater, the western half is composed of trachyte, while the eastern half is made up of trachytic basalt, which was formed by silent Hawaiian-type eruptions.

Geomunoreum Lava Tube System

More than 120 lava tubes are scattered throughout Jeju Island. Geomunoreum Lava Tube System refers to a series of lava tubes formed in the large amounts of basaltic lava spewed out by the live Geomunoreum volcano. This volcano is located across two administrative areas (Deokcheon-ri, Gujwa-eup and Seonheul-ri, Jocheoneup) in Bukjeju-gun, Jeju-do. It is perched atop an elevation of 456.6 m.

The lava from the Geomunoreum volcano flowed down the slope of Mt. Hallasan in a north-northeast direction down to the coastline. Throughout the flow it has created numerous lava tubes, such as Manjanggul Lava Tube (Manjang), Bengdwigul Lava Tube (Bengdwi), Gimnyeonggul Lava Tube (Gimnyeong), Yongcheondonggul Lava Tube (Yongcheon) and Dangcheomuldonggul Lava Tube (Dangcheomul).

With the exception of Bengdwigul Lava Tube, the others (i.e. Manjang, Gimnyeong, Yongcheon and Dangcheomul) are distributed along the same extended lava flow line of tubes.

Bengdwi, Manjang, Gimnyeong, Yongcheon and Dangcheomul have been inscribed as World Heritage; each tube deserves its own unique attribution regarding form, size and content of the lava tubes and the diversity of speleothems.

From a global perspective, given its peculiar geological phenomena, the system of tubes deserves worldwide recognition as a heritage that should be shared and appreciated by all of humankind.

This is particularly true of Yongcheon and Dangcheomul which, together with less spectacular examples on the western end of Jeju Island, are unrivalled anywhere else around the world. Indeed the Jeju lava tubes with secondary carbonate mineralization may be said to be truly unique.

On the western area of the island, there is another group of lava tubes. Hyeopjae-Ssangnyonggul, Hwanggeumgul and Socheongul lava tubes, which have the same phenomenon of secondary carbonate mineralization producing limestone-cave type speleothems.

Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone

Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone is located in Seongsan-ri, Seongsaneup, Namjeju-gun, Jeju-do. The summit of the Ilchulbong crater lies at an altitude of 179 m; that of the lowest point in the crater is 89 m. The major axis of the bowl-shaped crater measures 570 m in diameter; assuming a total area of approximately 2.6 ha.

In the late Pleistocene Epoch (approximately 40,000 – 120,000 years ago), a Surtseyan-type underwater eruption from a shallow seabed resulted in a tuff cone. With the exception of the northwestern portion, three sides of the crater have been eroded by wave action, creating exposed cliffs which reveal the structure of the tuff cone in cross section.

On the northeastern side, the cliff has been eroded to almost the summit of the crater. Since volcanic activities halted or contemporaneously, the incessant erosion of the waves continued to eat away the outer rim of the crater. As a result, today, the Ilchulbong is not a perfect tuff cone.

Nevertheless, where the slopes meet with the sea, the rare internal stratifications, unique to Surtseyan-type phreatomagmatic volcanic activities, can be clearly seen. On the crater’s northwestern slope, which remains unaffected by wave cut erosion, the eruption-induced tuff slopes remain intact, serving as a precious archive for geological studies regarding ancient volcanic activities. The rocks that makes up the tuff cone is a composite mix of breccia, massive lapilli tuff, stratified lapilli tuff, bedded tuff, muddy tuffite and tuffite, creating nine layers of sedimentary facies. Depending on the slope gradient from the crater and its proximity, there are four facies associations – steep rim beds, flank deposits, marginal beds and volcaniclastic aprons.

Through repeated processes of eruption and deposition, the slopes of the crater have developed into a virtual museum of highly valuable structures, resulting from phreatomagmatic eruptions; it displays base surge bedding, internal cross laminations, graded bedding, pyroclastic flow lamination, slumping, ripple mark, bedding sag, ballistic blocks, channel system and local unconformities. It is a text-book resource for the study of volcanoclastic sedimentology.

In Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone, 220 species of land animals, belonging to 179 genera and 73 families, have been identified. Among the flora, yago is a significant species in the distribution of plants. Belonging to the broomrape (Orobancaceae) family, the yago (Aeginetia indica) is parasitic to eulalia (Miscanthus sinensis). In Korea, it is found only on Jeju Island and then only in very limited areas.

In addition, over 300 marine plants have been identified in the coastal area surrounding the tuff cone. Among them, several have been identified as new and endemic to this region; one such plant is Dasysiphonia chejuensis, a red alga with the type locality of this genus being the coast of Ilchulbong.

Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty

40 Royal Tombs Inscribed on the World Heritage List

During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) 119 tombs were constructed within the Republic of Korea. Each tomb is designated neungwon or myo depending on the royal status. Of these, 40 were royal tombs for Joseon Dynasty kings and their consorts (and there are a further 2 located in DPR Korea).

The tombs were built to honour the memory of ancestors, to show respect for their achievements, to assert royal authority, to protect ancestral spirits from evil and to provide protection from vandalism. A royal tomb was a sacred place where the deceased could “live” in the afterlife amidst dynasty-protecting ancestral spirits.
There are three keys to understanding the royal tombs: the topography of the site and the layout of the tomb; the types of burial mounds, the sites’ associated structures and the nature and aesthetic qualities of site-specific stone objects; and the rites associated with the burials as well as extant documents that verify the construction process.

During the Joseon Dynasty, sites were chosen according to pungsu (fengshui in Chinese) principles. Accordingly, outstanding natural sites were chosen, which were mainly along two mountain chains stretching to the north and south of the Han River that flows through present-day Seoul. The burial mounds, the “heart” of a royal burial ground, were usually placed in the middle of a hillside. Protected from the back, they face outward (to the south) toward water and, ideally, toward layers of mountain ridges in the far distance.

Royal Graveyard Divided into Three Areas: Burial, Ceremonial, and Entrance Areas

The burial chamber was located at the point where propitious energies are said to be concentrated and it was fortified with a dirt covering, creating the mound. With a low, curving wall and knoll at the back, energy is further directed toward the burial chamber.

In addition to the burial area, royal tombs consist of a ceremonial area and an entrance area, and each area has a different function and symbolic meaning. The burial area is the sacred place of the dead and it contains an open, grassy area, the burial mound and a spirit road that descends to a T-shaped shrine. The shrine is the centre of the ceremonial area and it is here that ancestral rites are conducted to symbolise the meeting of the living and the dead. The shrine is linked by a worship road to a red-spiked gate, the main entrance to the royal graveyard.

The entrance area, itself, lies beyond the gate and it contains the forbidden stream with a stone bridge, the house of the tomb keeper and additional buildings used for ceremonial preparations. The separation of the living and the dead is further symbolised by the nature of the roads: the chamdo, the worship road, links the main gate to the shrine and is shared by the living and the dead, while the sindo, the spirit road, links the shrine to the burial mound and is used solely by the dead.

Architectural Values Blended with Tangible and Documentary Heritage

The layout described above generally follows the layout prescribed as part of the Confucian ritual system. However, variation is found in the number and placement of burial mounds within a site, and this is categorised as follows:

□ Tombs with a single mound
□ Tombs with twin mounds
□ Tombs with three parallel mounds
□ Tombs with a joint burial mound for the king and queen
□ Tombs with double mounds on separate hills
□ Tombs with vertically placed double mounds

In addition to the burial mounds, associated buildings are an integral part of the royal tombs: the T-shaped wooden shrine (jeongjagak), where ancestral tablets are kept and royal ancestral rites performed; the stele shed, which protects the tomb stele; the royal kitchen, where food for the royal ancestral rites is prepared; the guards’ house, located southeast of the T-shaped shrine and facing the kitchen; the red-spiked gate (hongsalmun), which marks the beginning of the worship road at the southern end of the tomb area, signifying entry to the sacred realm; and the tomb keeper’s house (jaesil), where ritual equipment is kept and overall preparations are made for royal ancestral rites.

Royal tombs are adorned on the outside with a range of stone objects, including ceremonial artifacts and figures of people and animals that are placed around, and in front of, the grave mound. All serve the purpose of wishing the interred a peaceful afterlife.

Around the burial mound, on the upper platform (sanggye), a 12-angled retaining stone protects and decorates the mound. A stone fence, slightly further out, encircles the mound, and outside of this fence pairs of stone sheep and tigers face outward, their backs to the mound. Further out, a low wall shelters the components on three sides. At the open side, and in front of the mound, there is a stone table on which spirits can play. And to the right and the left of the table are stone watch pillars.

In the middle platform (junggye), a four- or eight-sided stone lantern is found in the middle with two civil servants and their horses, both in stone, nearby. In the lower platform (hagye), two military officials and their horses, in stone, are found.

The ancestral rites associated with the royal tombs are considered sacrosanct. They were practiced until the late Joseon period and into the short period of the Daehan Empire (late 19th-early 20th century). Under Japanese colonial rule and during the Korean War, they were stopped, but revived afterwards (1966) as a means to preserve the ritual practices associated with the Joseon Dynasty. Sites were chosen for their proximity to the capital, Seoul, which reflects the need for kings to have close access to their fathers’ graves in order to pay due respect and honour.

In the Joseon Dynasty there were two categories of rites: funeral rites (hyungnye) and auspicious rites (gillye). The royal tomb was constructed during the process of hyungnye. The rules for performing these ceremonies are called The Five Rites, which are detailed in two books: the “Five Rites” chapter of Sejong Sillok (Annals of King Sejong) and Gukjo Oryeui (Five Rites of the State, which was published during the reign of King Seongjong). When conducting the funeral of his father, the new king followed the procedures specified in the books.

In addition to the two books, palace scholars produced three different kinds of documents to mark the sacredness of the royal ancestry and magnify the departed king’s legacy: sillok (annals); uigwe (records of state events); and neungji (tomb records).

Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong

The two villages of Hahoe and Yangdong are both located in the south-eastern region of the Korean peninsula, the heartland of a distinct Confucian aristocratic culture during the Joseon Dynasty that ruled the Korean Peninsula for more than five hundred years. There is a distance of 90km between them.

Hahoe Village

The Pungsan Ryu clan who formed the village was one of the five powerful local families of the Andong region. The family produced many notable politicians and scholars, and from the 16th century was recognized as a prominent aristocratic clan in the south-east of Korea.

The village is sited on the upper reaches of the Nakdonggang River where it loops around Mount Hwasan. The name Hahoe means the river meanders. The Nakdonggang River flows south into the Korean Strait and drains most of north and south Gyeongsang provinces. The river water allowed the region to prosper from rice production from the early Joseon period The nominated area consists of the village, some of the cultivated fields, the lower slopes of the mountain behind, and the edges of the river on the opposite banks of the river, on which is the Hwacheonseowon Academy. Also in the nominated area is the Byeongsansseowon Confucian Academy, a discrete site approximately 3km east of the village joined to the main site by the buffer zone.

Yangjindang House

Dating from the mid 16th century, this house, the largest in the village, has served as the head family house for the Ryu clan, since it was built by Ryu Jong-hye, the clan’s founder. It faces south overlooking Maneulbong Peak, its ansan or front guardian mountain. Unusually the house has two ancestral shrines and its basic frame is elaborately decorated.

Chunghyodang House

The current buildings date from the 17th century and were built for the head of a sub-family line of the Ryu clan. Only the ancestral shrine faces south towards Maneulbong Peak, while the other buildings face Mt Wonjisan to the west. Like the Yangjindang House, its timber frame carries decoration. A distinctive feature is the large wood-floored hall with two stories of rooms to either side.

Hwacheonseowon Confucian Academy

Originally built in 1786 and enlarged in the early 19th century, the Academy was destroyed in 1868 on the orders of Regent Heungseon, the father of King Gojong, to shut down all private Confucian Academies nationwide. It was restored in 1994.

Yangdong Village

The village lies at the mouth of a narrow valley between the many folded ridges of Mt Seolchangsan to the northwest and Seongjubong Peak to the south-east, through which flows the Yangdongcheon stream, a tributary of the Allakcheon stream which flows into the larger Hyeongsangang River. With the guardian mountain at its back, the village faces out across the Allakcheon stream to a wide plain within which is the Angang Field – the main agricultural fields of the village, and now in the buffer zone. The Seongjubong Peak functions as its front guardian mountain.

Along with Hahoe village, Yangdong was commended as one of the four most auspicious sites in southern Korea in the Pungsu of Joseon. The village became the place where gentry studied while enjoying the beauties of the landscape. The small pavilion of Dongnakdang House was a place of retreat, where for instance Yi Eon-jeok in the 16th century devoted himself with spiritual and physical discipline to the study of Neo-Confucianism and to writing poems such as ’15 Songs composed in a Forest’.

Yangdong is larger than most traditional clan villages with 149 households and proportionately larger houses. The dwellings lie in five ‘dales’ within the fold of the densely forested hills, on plots carved out of the surrounding woodland, with the yangban houses halfway up the slope and the commoners’ houses clustered around and below them. There were two main clans, Son and Yi, competitively building their houses on prominent sites.

As with Hahoe village, ICOMOS notes that the descriptive text mainly concentrates on the houses of the nobility and gives little information on the commoners’ houses, or the surrounding landscape.

Seobaekdang House
This is the oldest house in the village built by the founder of the Son clan, Son So, when he settled in the village in the mid 15th century. It is also one of the earliest houses in Korea and preserves the layout of the early Joseon period with a ceremonial hall having a central location and the men’s quarters being part of the main compound, in contrast to the segregation that emerged later. From the large, wooden floored main hall there are views of Seobaekdang Peak. As well as the main compound, there is a gate compound and an ancestral shrine.

Jeong Sun-i House

Around the aristocratic clan houses are clusters of simple thatched houses of commoners with walls of mud over timber frames, usually three rooms laid out in a single row and sometimes with small outbuildings.

Study Halls, Pavilions and Confucian Academies

Simsujeong Pavilion

Simsujeong Pavilion, was originally built around 1560 for Yi Eon-gwal, younger brother of Yi Eon-jeok. It was destroyed in a fire and the present building was reconstructed in 1917.

Suunjeong Pavilion

The pavilion sits on high ground at the west of the village and overlooks the Allakcheon Stream and Angang Field. It provides one of the best vistas in Yangdong village. It was built around 1582 by Son Yeop, great grandson of Son Jung-don. The pavilion has a heated floor room and an open hall with a veranda and decorative balustrades.

Oksanseowon Confucian Academy

Oksanseowon Confucian Academy is located some 8 kilometres to the west of Yangdong Village (just south of Dongnakdang House). The compound is divided into four areas for entrance, study, rites, and auxiliary facilities. The Academy boasts the ownership of the greatest number of documents and books amongst national Confucian academies (of which 48 survive). It was built in 1572 by Yi Je-min, a magistrate of Gyeongju, in response to the desires of the local literati. There is no visual link to the village.

Donggangseowon Confucian Academy

Sited some 4 kilometres to the east of the village, this Academy was founded in 1695 in memory of Son Jungdon, a prominent local scholar. Most buildings were destroyed in 1868 at a time when many academies were forcibly closed. In 1918, local literati resumed observing rites. Similarly there is no visual link to the village.

Landscape Setting

Yangdong Village has been shaped in the typical ‘Mountain on back, river on front’ pungsu topography. The village sits on a side of a mountain, and all the houses sit in dales between ridges keeping the image of the ‘勿’ character, which means ‘clean’. Only the close surroundings of the houses are included in the nominated area, not the Allakcheon stream or the fields beyond it.

History and development

Clan villages developed and flourished in the Joseon dynasty which consolidated its absolute rule over Korea, encouraged the adoption of Confucian ideals in Korean society, (which had been introduced to Korean Peninsula in the first century), absorbed Chinese culture, and, through prosperity founded on trade, fostered classical Korean culture, science, literature, and technology.

Although the concept of villages planned to harmonise with the local topography, through the implementation of pungsu principles, had appeared in the preceding Goryeo period, it was during the Joseon Dynasty that those who had become small and medium sized land owners and local government officers rose into yangban or nobility clans, and then played a central role in the founding or enlargement of new settlements, based on Confucian principles. These clan villages for the nobility usually housed members of one or two clans and existed alongside fortified, walled towns where government and county officers lived who were of lower status and from diverse backgrounds. The clan villages also produced civil and military officials for the government.

Hahoe village is an example of a new yangban settlement being formed at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty by three clans, Heo, An and Ryu.

In the 16th century the Ryu clan produced distinguished politicians and scholars and this is reflected in the architecture of the village, particularly the study halls.

The new village flourished but by the mid 17th century the Heo and An clans left and Hahoe village became the clan village of the single Ryu clan. The village continued to expand in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the 1980s, in line with the majority of Korean villages, young people migrated to the towns and cities and in 1991 the elementary school was closed. However there are some signs of a reversal of this trend with two newly built traditional houses in the 1990s.

Yangdong village is an example of a settlement that grew into a village of the nobility through the marriage of one of its daughters to the son of the Son clan. In turn his daughter married into the Yi clan. These two clans produced several distinguished figures in the 16th century.

The village expanded around the clan branches.

In the early 20th century a railway line was built to the village and a school constructed. In the 1940s a Buddhist Temple was constructed, and a decade later a Church. In the 1970s a bridge was erected over the Allakcheon Stream and in 1971 the pattern of arable land on the Angang Field was restructured and a community warehouse built.

In the 1980s, the village did not suffer such a severe decline in population as some other villages.

1 Comment

Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Korean Wold Heritage, UNESCO World Heritage