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Tour program to see Changgyeonggung as it was, as it is

Changgyeonggung in central Seoul is but a fraction of the grand structure it once was before the 20th century.

A tour program of the palace in September and October will have visitors viewing the buildings that stand today, while providing commentary on those that have been destroyed over time.

According to the Cultural Heritage Administration, the special tourism program of the palace will take place each Friday in September and October for an hour, starting at 2:30 p.m. There is no additional fee for the tour program but each tour is limited to 30 people.

Changgyeonggung (Cultural Heritage Administration)
Changgyeonggung (Cultural Heritage Administration)

Changgyeonggung, originally built in the mid-15th century under the orders of King Sejong, has been burned down and rebuilt several times. Much of what remains today dates from a large-scale renovation in 1833. In 1909, the Joseon royal palace lost its grandeur, as Japan built a zoo, botanical garden and museum on the grounds. Japan formally annexed the Daehan Empire in 1910.

The palace is said to have been spread across 2,000 kan -- a traditional method of measuring a building’s surface area, with one kan referring to the area between four pillars -- but has been reduced to just 450 kan.

Among the now-perished buildings were those used as an office building for government officials, a military headquarters building, the crown prince’s quarters and Jagyeongjeon, which was built by King Jeongjo for his mother. 

Donggwoldo (Cultural Heritage Administration)
Donggwoldo (Cultural Heritage Administration)

During the guided tour, tourists will look around the empty sites of the buildings and listen to professional commentary while looking at the painting “Donggwoldo,” which means the painting of the eastern palaces, referring to Changgyeonggung.

“Donggwoldo,” thought to have been completed between 1826 and 1839, is a bird’s-eye-view painting that depicts the Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces as they were in the early 19th century. It is has been designated National Treasure No. 249.

Those wishing to participate in the tour can apply at, starting at 2 p.m., Friday. One must submit the application at least a day before the desired tour date.

By Yoon Min-sik