Thursday, October 18, 2007
Korea Seeks to Preserve Rich Past Amid Globalization
In three of my books, I write about Korea opening to the West, King Kojong, Queen Min and Seoul's Kyongbok Palace. In fact, every time I visit Korea, I spend several hours strolling through the massive palace complex. I was happy to read of the completion of a restoration project within the complex.
BTW The palace restoration project is but one of many examples of South Korea preserving and highlighting its heritage amid a massive positioning of itself on the leading edge of global technology and Progress....
Korea Media notes...
Geoncheonggung Residence, the blood-tainted spot in Gyeongbok Palace where Japanese assassins murdered the last empress of the Joseon Kingdom (1310-1910), has finally opened, Thursday, for the first time in 98 years.
Under direct orders from Miura Goro, the Japanese Minister to Korea at the time, sword-bearing assassins invaded Gyeongbok Palace on Oct. 8, 1895 to kill Empress Myeongseong (1851-1895), who was seen as an obstacle to Japan's annexation plans. Also known as Queen Min, the empress was spouse to Joseon's 26th king, Emperor Gojong (1852-1919). Wielding much political influence as queen, she advocated stronger Korea-Russia ties in order to block Japanese influence.
Min was slain in Geoncheonggung Residence, the king and queen's private quarters, along with two other women resembling her. Her body was burnt in a nearby forest and the ashes were dispersed. She was 43 years old at the time. The tragic death is remembered as the Eulmiwaebyeon incident.
Geoncheonggung Residence was built in 1873 as a resting place for the royal couple, but was deserted after the Eulmiwaebyeon incident. Then in 1909, the Japanese destroyed it and built an art museum in its place. The museum had functioned as the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, until it was closed down in 1998.
Restoration of the edifice began in 2004, and it will open to the public beginning Saturday, Oct. 20. It resembles a typical residence of the Joseon nobility, with two separated quarters for the master and mistress, respectively. The residence is also where Korea's first electric light was installed and lit in 1887.