‘The west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace’ is located between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Sajikdan Altar against the backdrop of Bugaksan and Inwangsan Mountains.
Since ancient times the area has been famous for such scenic spots as Sesimdae Pavilion and Pirundae (Site of Yi Hang-bok’s House) at the foot of Inwangsan Mountain, and Cheongpunggye River and Baegundong Valley. Following the foundation of the Joseon dynasty it became a preferred residential area of the royal family and many influential families, while it became a stronghold of the Wihang literature promoted by middle-class artists and writers during the late Joseon period.
During the Japanese occupation, the Japanese Government-General of Korea’s official residence and the houses of pro-Japanese Koreans such as Byeoksusanjang (the house of Yun Deok-yeong) were situated in the area. As such, this area has the history of various groups of people.
The area preserves traces of the old waterways and alleys, while its housing consists of a mix of urban hanok, modern houses, and multifamily houses built in different periods. In addition, diverse types of buildings including traditional markets (Tongin Market and Geumcheongyo Market), galleries, cafes, and cultural spaces coexist in the area, representing a slice of daily urban life in the city. Moreover, the west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace is renowned not only for its ancient housing and various arts activities, culture, and community, but also as an attractive urban residential area due to its geographical proximity to the city center and reasonable housing rents.
Formation and Changes
of the West Side
of Gyeongbokgung Palace
The west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace refers to Hyoja-dong and Sajik-dong, located between the east slopes of Inwangsan Mountain and the western side of Gyeongbokgung Palace.
In the early Joseon period, it became an important area in Korean history. It is said that Namgyeong Temporary Palace was located in this area during the Goryeo period before the Joseon period.
After Gyeongbokgung Palace was established with the foundation of the Joseon Dynasty, the area to its west became a major district of the capital due to its close proximity to the main palace.
The west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace refers to the area stretching from the west of Gyeongbokgung Palace to the foot of Inwangsan Mountain. During the Joseon period it was a residential area where many hanok were concentrated. The area comprises fourteen legal dong including Hyoja-dong and Ogin-dong in Jongno-gu in Seoul, and covers one third of the entire Bukchon area.
It is home to the Sajikdan Altar, which was built to assert the legitimacy of the Joseon Dynasty, and various types of houses of influential figures and middle-class families of the Joseon period. Bukchon itself was preferred by high-ranking officials and aristocrats, whereas the west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace was inhabited by middle-class people during the Joseon period. As a famous scenic spot located at the foot of Inwangsan Mountain, the area was the heart of the Wihang literature movement, being much appreciated by artists and writers for its landscape. Such an artistic atmosphere of the area continued into modern times. Various poets such as Yi Sang, Yun Dong-ju, and Noh Cheon-myeong, and painters including Bak No-su, Yi Sang-beom, and Chun Kyung-ja lived in the area and promoted the regional culture in a range of genres. Since modern times, development activities have been restricted on the west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace due to its location near the Palace and Cheongwadae (Blue House).
on the West Side
of Gyeongbokgung Palace
The west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace, situated between Inwangsan Mountain and Gyeongbokgung Palace, was the preferred residential area of the nobility and middle-class people in the Joseon period.
The area contains a wide range of cultural assets and other materials including two Historic Sites (No. 121 Sajikdan Altar and No. 149 Yuksanggung Shrine), one Seoul Important Intangible Cultural Heritage (No. 111 Sajik Daeje (National Rite to Gods of Earth and Grain); two Seoul Tangible Cultural Heritages (No.25 Hwanghakjeong Archery Range and No. 32 The Site of Seonhuigung Palace); three Seoul Monuments (No. 23 The House of Sin Ik-hui, No. 31 Suseongdong Valley of Inwangsan Mountain, and No. 40 Baegundong Valley of Inwangsan Mountain); two Folklore Cultural Heritages (No. 29 The House of Hong Jong-mun in Chebu-dong and No. 33 The House of Hong Geon-ik in Pirun-dong); three Seoul Cultural Heritage Materials (No. 1 The House of Bak No-su in Ogin-dong, No. 9 The Site of the House of Yi Hang-bok [Pirundae], and No. 59 Baekhojeong Archery Field); and two Seoul Registered Cultural Heritages (No. 93 Dormitory of Paiwha Girls' High School and No. 171 The House and Atelier of Yi Sang-beom in Nuha-dong). Notably, the area is home to many places associated with local painters, such as the aforementioned House of Bak No-su (currently the Jongno-gu Bak No-su Gallery), designated as a Cultural Heritage Material, and the House and Atelier of Yi Sang-beom, a Registered Cultural Heritage.
Moreover, many of the area’s waterways and roads, built in the Joseon period, are still being used as roads. In particular, a number of Chinese inscriptions on rocks can be seen in various districts, including Baekhojeong (白虎亭; Baekhojeong Archery Field) in Nusang-dong and Pirundae (弼雲臺; The House of Yi Hang-bok); and Baegundongcheon (白雲洞川; Baegundong Stream) and Cheongsongdang Yuji (聽松堂遺址, Site of Cheongsongdang House), Cheongunsanjang (淸雲山莊; Cheongun Mountain Lodge), Baeksecheongpung (百世淸風), and Ungangdae (雲江臺) in Cheongun-dong, as well as a group of inscriptions in Daeeunam Valley
West Side of
in the Early Joseon Period
The west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace became a fashionable residential area of the royal family and many influential families during the early Joseon period. The area contains a number of important cultural heritages such as Sajikdan Altar (Historic Site No. 121), the Birthplace of King Sejong the Great (stone post), Suseongdong Valley (Seoul Monument No. 31), and the Site of Jasugung Palace (stone post), as well as former residential sites of the royal family such as Changhuigung Palace (stone post), the Site of Seonhuigung Palace (Seoul Tangible Cultural Heritage No. 32) and Yuksanggung Shrine (Historic Site No. 149).
West Side of
in the Late Joseon Period
The west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace, as the base of Wihang literature, became the heart of Korean culture and art during the late Joseon period. The area around Ogin-dong, designated as the First Redevelopment Area, is also known as Ongnyu-dong, the birthplace of Wihang literature, which was led by the middle-class artists and writers in the middle of the Joseon period. Thereafter it became the center of cultural and literary works and artists, including members of the Jangdong Kim Clan, Jeong Seon (1676-1759; pen-name: Gyeomjae), a famous Korean landscape painter, and Kim Jeong-hui (1786-1856; pen-name: Chusa), one of the most celebrated practitioners of calligraphy, as well as many epigraphists and scholars. As such, the area was continuously inhabited by artists working in diverse genres until the Japanese occupation and the modern period of Korea.
West Side of
Gyeongbokgung Palace during
the Japanese Occupation Period
During the Japanese occupation, the area was inhabited by renowned poets including Yi Sang, Noh Cheon-myeong, and Yun Dong-ju, and such painters as Yi Yeo-seong, Yi Kwae-dae, and Lee Jung-seop; while more recently it has been favored by various artists working in different genres, including painters Bak No-su and Yi Sang-beom. At present, a number of galleries are clustered there and many architects and professionals in culture and arts live around the area, mainly in Hyoja-dong, a center of cultural and art activities in Seoul.
Today’s West Side of
These days many young artists are gathering around the west side of Gyeongbokgung Palace, and establishing their workshops and cafes , transforming the area into a fascinating place that is renowned for its historic atmosphere. Moreover, its local residents carry out various social activities for their community.
Hanok Heritage Preservation Division of Urban Regeneration Office, Seoul City Hall 3F, 110, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul (Zip Code: 04524)
Tel. +82-2-2133-5580 / Fax. +82-2-2133-0828
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