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Notes on the Geography of South Korea: Royal Precincts: Photo 1

world pictures South Korea: Royal Precincts

A historical map in the Dongdaemun History Museum shows the gate itself (on the far right here), the line of the city wall, the great east-west avenue (Jong-ro), and the north-south axis that is now Sejong-daero. That street leads north to the Gyeongbokgung or Gyeongbok Palace, the "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven." To its east lies a recently publicized neighborhood of traditional housing (hanok), once the residence of officials and now an cultural-heritage attraction. Farther east is the enclosure of the Jongmyo Shrine, holding royal spirit tablets. Just to its north there's a cluster of other royal palaces, chiefly Changdeokgung, the "Prospering Virtue Palace."

A main road, not shown here, now runs east from the entrance of Gyeongbok Palace and separates the eastern palaces from the tablet shrine to their south. Think it's just engineering? Hae Un Rii, a geographer at Dongguk University, writes that "the Japanese opened up the new road between the palaces in order to break the geomantic basis of the area's planning and block the traditional spirits (gi) which, according to Korean geomantic notions, flowed from Bukak (North Mountain), toward the south."

See her "Seoul, Republic of Korea: Removing the Reminders of Colonialism," in William S. Logan, ed., The Disappearing 'Asian' City , 2002, p. 83.

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