Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first royal palace built by the Joseon Dynasty, three years after the
Joseon Dynasty was founded. Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace was located at the heart of newly
appointed capital of Seoul (then known as Hanyang) and represented the sovereignty of the Joseon
Dynasty. The largest of the Five Grand Palaces (the others being Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung
Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace), Gyeongbokgung served as the main
palace of the Joseon Dynasty.
The Turbulent History of Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace continued to serve as the main palace until the Japanese invasions of Korea
(1592 – 1598), when all of the palaces were severely damaged. It was not until about 1868 that the
palace was reconstructed and expanded to a 410,000 square meter complex with over 500
buildings. Gyeongbokgung Palace flourished for several decades in this state until the Japanese once
again demolished the palaces during their occupation of Korea (1910-1945). Most of the restored
buildings were torn down, Gwanghwamun Gate was relocated and the Japanese General Government
Building was constructed in front of the main area of the palace.
An effort by the Korean government has been ongoing since 1990 to rebuild and restore the buildings
that were destroyed during the Japanese occupation. This 40-year restoration project aims to fully
restore Gyeongbokgung Palace to its original form in the next twenty years. Currently, the palace is
open to the public and houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum
of Korea. Although only about forty percent of the buildings have been restored, there are still many
beautiful things to see at the palace. Some of the palace highlights have been noted below.
Geunjeongjeon (Imperial Throne Hall)
Geunjeongjeon is the throne hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace where the king was formally briefed by
his officials, issued proclamations, and greeted foreign envoys and ambassadors. It was also the
central venue for various coronation ceremonies of the royal household.