Sunday, August 15, 2010

Liberation Day

Happy Gwangbokjeol everyone! Gwangbokjeol (광복절 - 光復節), whose literal translation is "Restoration of Light Holiday," is also known as Korean Liberation Day or Independence Day.

The highlight of the Gwangbokjeol ceremony in downtown Seoul this morning was the unveiling of Gwanghwamun, the front gate of Gyeongbok Palace. As the entrance to the primary seat of government during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), Gwanghwamun was used by the king for official events and occupies a central location of great symbolic importance: it lies at the end of Sejongno Boulevard below Blue House grounds at the foot of Bukhan Mountain.

The restoration of Gwanghwamun, which is often referred to as "the face of Seoul," marks the culmination of a 20-year campaign to meticulously and accurately restore royal buildings destroyed by Japan. In the case of Gwanghwamun, which was destroyed again during the Korean War, restoration involved dismantling and rebuilding the 1968 gate using traditional carpentry techniques in accordance with Joseon-era blueprints. The gate's location was also shifted 11.2 meters to the north and 13.5 meters to the east and also rotated 3.75 degrees, restoring Gwanghwamun in its original location along the north-south axis of the other palace gates and the main throne hall.

Sejongno (in the middle, statue of famed Admiral Yi Sun-sin)

The restored Gwanghwamun

Palace guards

Here's a good AFP photo of the palace complex.