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The Restored Jeolla Gamyoung (Joseon Dynasty Provincial Government Complex)

 

2021 has started and Jeonju has an exciting new attraction. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Jeonju has restored one of its historic sites, Jeolla Gamyoung. ‘Gamyoung’ is the provincial government complex during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Jeolla refers to the southwestern part of the Korean Peninsula.

 

The original plan of Jeolla Gamyoung from the 1870s

 

The restored Jeolla Gamyoung opens in October 2020

Jeolla Gamyoung is the provincial government complex that oversaw the administrative, judiciary, and military affairs of the Southwestern region (today’s Jeollabuk-do, Jeollanam-do, and even Jeju-do Island) for more than five centuries. The original site used to be much larger, but last October, seven key buildings of the complex were restored.

the main gate of Jeolla Gamyoung

 

Before the restoration of Jeolla Gamyoung, the old Jeonbuk Provincial Office building was standing on the site. The original Jeolla Gamyoung complex used to have more gates and more buildings. However, fully restoring the original complex is impossible. The current main gate is actually the third gate in the original plan.

the pine tree and the tablet stone with the engraving of Admiral Yi Sun-sin’s quote

 

Left to the main gate is a beautiful pine tree and a big tablet stone. On the tablet stone is written “the whole country is dependent on the supplies from the Honam (the Southwestern part of the Korean Peninsula), if not for Honam, this country would not exist”. This is a quote from Admiral Yi Sun-sin, one of the most respected historic figures in the Korean history, famed for the major victories against the Japanese navy during the Japanese Invasion of Korea (1592-1598) and one of the most respected historic figures in the Korean history.

the photo of the old Seonhwadang

The past and present of Seonhwadang, the office of the Governor

Seonhwadang is the office of Jeolla Gamsa (the Governor). It has been the most important building during the restoration.

before entering the Seonhwadang building, there’s Cheugugi, the rain-gauge used during the Joseon Dynasty

 

The Seonhwadang building was destroyed and rebuilt repeatedly during the tumultuous history of the Joseon Dynasty. However, it was completely destroyed during the Korean War.

The Seonhwadang building from the front and side

Both old and new stones are used for restoration. Probably the darker ones are the older ones?

 

The Seonhwadang building consists of seven compartments: three for the reception room, one for the verandah, and the rest were for the Governor’s daily work.

Inside the Governor’s office

 

Inside the Governor’s office, you can see the two spears with red tassels. It’s called ‘Dukki’, which symbolizes that the King has entrusted the Governor with the military. The Governor was indeed a very powerful person.

The photo taken at Jeolla Gamyoung by George Clayton Foulk, the American naval attaché to Korea in 1876

 

The folding screen shows the two photos taken by George Clayton Foulk, the American naval attaché to Korea in 1876. He travelled around Korea (then Joseon Dynasty) for 44 days. The eyes of the most people in the photo are closed because, back then, it took about 23 seconds to take photo.

the chair of the Governor is a photo prop

 

According to Foulk’s travel diary, Jeolla Gamyoung used to have a wall clock, and the people already knew what the camera was for. Behind the chair of the Governor are the paintings of dragon and tiger. They were restored thanks to Foulk’s photos.

the video on the Governor’s daily businesses

 

This is the reception room, which has ondol (Korean traditional floor heating system) floor. It seems very cozy here. Now the video of the Governor’s daily businesses are shown on the wall.

the front view of Gwanpunggak

To enter Gwanpunggak, shoes must be taken off

 

Gwanpunggak Pavilion

Gwanpunggak is there pavilion where the Governor held parties for distinguished guests. The original building (before restoration) dates from the Goryo Dynasty (918-1392).

Yeonsindang, the Governor’s quarter

Jeolla Gamyoung VR and interactive books

 

Yeongsindang is the Governor’s quarter. Now, visitors can experience Jeolla Gamyoung VR and interactive books.

quarters of the Governor’s family and the servants’ quarter

the servants’ quarter

 

 

The innermost building is ‘Naea’, the quarter of the Governor’s family. There are also the servants’ quarters too. Jeonju City has put much effort in restoringJeolla Gamyoung according to as much historical evidence as possible. I hope Jeonju continues to serve as the center of the traditional Korean culture.

 

Jeolla Gamyoung
Address: Jungangdong 1ga 1-6, Wansangu, Jeonju
Opening hours: 09:00~18:00 (Nov~Feb), 09:00~19:00 (Mar~Oct)
Admission fee: free (the premise may be closed depending on the COVID-19 situation)

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  • Jared Sandler

    Jeolla Gamyoung seems to capture the essence of the Joseon Dynasty yangban living in the Honam region. The two photographs originally taken by George Clayton Foulk in 1876 have been restored well by the city of Jeonju. So interesting to see real photographs of various Joseon Dynasty yangban in the nineteenth century!

  • Ever Enrique Castillo Osorio

    Time passes, but the legacy of ancestors and traditions should never be forgotten. Jeounju is doing a good job of restoring historic places.

  • Steve Joe

    Is it a really cool place.