Deoksugung Palace is a walled compound located in Seoul, South Korea and is the smallest of the five grand palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty. The Joseon Dynasty was Korea’s last dynasty and lasted for over 500 years from 1392 until 1910. The name Deoksugung Palace means “Palace of virtue and longevity”. It was inhabited by members of Korea’s royal family until 1910.
Deoksugung became a palace in 1593 when King Seonjo moved in after Seoul’s other palaces burned down during the Imjin War. The palace was initially not a royal palace but a residential home of Grand Prince Wolsan (the older brother of King Seonjong).
The current scale of Deoksugung Palace is one-third its original size with one-tenth the number of buildings
The main entrance to the palace is through Daehanmum Gate shown in the photo below
The centerpiece of Deoksugung Palace is Junghwajeon Hall. This hall is where state affairs were conducted, official meeting held and foreign envoys received. Originally it was a two story building but it was rebuilt in 1906 as a one story building.
Leading to the entrance of the hall entrance are small stoned carved with writing and a two level stair with carved dragons on each side of the walking path symbolizing dignity for the new empire.
Inside the hall is the throne room. In the center of the room along the back wall is the throne. Behind the throne is a transportable painting featuring the sun, moon and five mountains which expressed a wish for the nation that it would be prosperous forever. This painting was taken wherever the emperor went.
Above the throne are a pair of dragons on the ceiling that represents the authority of the emperor.
Junmyeongdang and Jeukjodang Halls
These two joint halls are located behind Junghwajeon Hall. Junmyeongdang Hall is where the Emperor received honored guests and foreign envoys. Jeukjodang Hall is where King Gwanghaegun and King Injo ascended to the throne and “Jeukjodang” literally means “the house where kings ascended their throne”.
Seogeodang Hall is the only building at Deoksugung Palace with a two tiered roof. This building is also the only building not painted which represents the look of a typical house of the time.
Deokhongjeon and Hamnyeongjeon Halls
Deokhongjeon and Hamnyeongjeon Halls are shown in the same picture below. They look like the same building but there are two separate building with a small separation between the two.
Deokhongjeon Hall is the nearest building and was built in 1911 making it one of the most recent building in Deoksugung Palace. This building is unusual because it is almost square in shape while most Korean style buildings are built in a rectangular shape.
Hamnyeongjeon Hall is the second building in the photo with three open doors in the center of the building. It was the sleeping chamber of the Emperor Gojong.
The architecture of most of the buildings built in the early years of the palace are very similar in style. The photos below provide a close up look of this architecture style. I like the red color of the wall with the green window frames except for the building with the throne room which has yellow window frames.
One of the most spectacular features of the Korean Palaces are the roof details. There are so many pieces for the roof supports and each piece is colorfully painted making the roof not only functional but also a work of art.
There are several walls within the palace that are used to separate the palace into sections. The photos below show these walls and the features of the walls and he gates for passage between sections of the palace.
The last photos are of an isolated gate that I have not been able to find out any information about this gate. It is located in an area without anything near that would indicate its purpose. The gate is impressive and in good condition so I wanted to include the photos in this post.