August 15, 2023
SEOUL – The doors to King Gojong’s private quarters at the main palace Gyeongbokgung will open to the public with exhibitions that display the royal lifestyle of the Joseon era.
Geoncheonggung, often referred to as King Gojong’s private retreat, holds a unique place in history.
Despite ascending to the throne in 1863, King Gojong’s father Heungseon Daewongun ruled the country as regent on behalf of his young son.
It was with the intent to express his desire for independence from his father’s authority that the 22-year-old King Gojong conceived of the idea of Geoncheonggung within the main palace of Gyeongbokgung.
It was not easy for the young monarch to build his own premises. He encountered resistance from his subjects, largely due to budget constraints. Under Heungseon Daewongun’s governance, much of the kingdom’s resources were used for the restoration of Gyeongbokgung, which was destroyed in the Japanese invasion of 1592.
King Gojong mobilized personal funds to push for the construction of his private quarters, and Geoncheonggung was completed in 1873.
However, Gojong’s aspirations for independent rule did not last long. In 1895, Japanese imperial forces infiltrated Gyeongbokgung and assassinated Empress Myeongseong, Gojong’s consort. Empress Myeongseong was assassinated at Geoncheonggung, the royal couple’s residence.
In the following year, Gojong escaped to the Russian Legation and Geoncheonggung lost its function as a royal residence. In 1909, the Japanese destroyed Geongcheonggung and erected an art museum under the Japanese Government General of Korea. It was only in 2007 that Geongcheonggung was restored.
Since 2007, only a limited section of Geoncheonggung had been accessible to the public. From Aug. 15 to Sept. 18, Jangandang, the king’s office and private quarters, and Gonnyeonghap, the queen’s quarters, along with the guest rooms and maid’s rooms, will be unveiled to visitors.
Admission is free and reservations are not required. Operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Geongcheonggung will be closed on Aug. 16 and subsequent Tuesdays.