By Kang Gahui and Kim Hwaya
Geunjeongjeon Hall, the largest hall at Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace housing the Joseon Dynasty king’s throne, will be opened to the public this month for a limited time.
Designated National Treasure No. 223, the hall is considered to have the essence of the architecture of traditional Korean palaces.
The Royal Palaces and Tombs Center of the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) announced on Aug. 7 that the hall’s interior will be tentatively opened twice a day Wednesday to Saturday from Aug. 21 through Sept. 21.
The hall was used to host major events during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) such as a coronation ceremony, morning assembly with civil and military officials, and reception of foreign envoys.
Built in 1395, Geunjeongjeon was destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasions of Korea from 1592-98. In 1867 under the reign of King Gojong, the structure was reconstructed using the best architectural techniques at the time.
The eojwa (king’s throne) is placed at the center of the northern part of the hall, with a folding screen behind it featuring the sun, moon and five peaks that symbolize the universe.
Tours of the facility start at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and each takes about 20 minutes. Admission is free but limited to those over age 13. The number of participants is limited to 20 per tour and reservations a week before the desired tour date are needed.
A CHA official said, “(Geunjeongjeon) had been closed to the public out of fears of damage to a cultural treasure and the need to secure safety, but we’re gradually expanding the opening of the interior,” adding, “Through this special opening, we expect to get the public closer to royal palaces as cultural and historical spaces.”