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Geoncheonggung

The name of this building is Geoncheonggung. It is where the last king of Joseon, King Gojong, and his wife lived. Gojong, who had lived as an ordinary mischievous boy as part of a fallen family that had no connection to the inheritance of the throne, one day suddenly became the king of Joseon. He became the next in line for the throne after his father handed him over to the Queen Dowager to be adopted as her son. How strange and unfamiliar the palace must have been to a twelve-year-old boy! Ten years later, King Gojong was able to move out from under the shadow of his father and begin his own rule over Joseon. He did so with the encouragement of his wife and trustworthy political partner, Queen Myeongseong. Geoncheonggung was built as a palace within a palace with personal family funds in 1873, the year in which King Gojong began his rule. It was built not in the traditional palace style but in the style of an upper-class Joseon house. Perhaps he missed his youth, the time and the life that he had led outside the palace. It is said that King Gojong spent a great deal of time here. Also, the entry of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty for October 8, 1895 contains the following sad story. “The queen passed away here at Geoncheonggung.” Queen Myeongseong was killed during an attack by the Japanese that began on the night of October 7, 1895, and lasted until early the next morning. A Japanese garrison and armed band of assassins pushed into Gyeongbokgung with knives. They murdered the queen, and then poured gasoline over her body. It was the beginning of what would be a long and difficult Japanese occupation. Several months after having lost his wife – who was also his political partner, King Gojong left Gyeongbokgung and never returned. This left Gyeongbokgung open to the Japanese, who vandalized and ransacked it with impunity. In the process the building was also destroyed In 2007 the Korean government rebuilt Geoncheonggung. According to records, which noted that King Gojong and Queen Myeongseong liked persimmons, a persimmon tree was planted in the rear garden in their memory.

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