Monday, June 06, 2016

Heunginjimun Gate, Seoul

While waiting for nightfall when the LED roses would light up at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, I walked with a friend across the street to the Heunginjimun Gate. What a contrast - from the spaceship-like ultramodern steel building of the Plaza to the stone and wood structure of the gate. 
Meaning "Great East Gate," Heunginjimun Gate was the major Eastern gate for the wall that surrounded Seoul during the Joseon Dynasty. Now it sits amidst the ultramodern skyscrapers, huge electronic displays, and a plethora of markets.  

As written on the sign in front of the gate:
Heunginjimun was the east gate of the capital city of Seoul and was built in 1398. The current gate was rebuilt in 1869. This large gate in the east was inscribed with the letter "ji," meaning wisdom. An arch type passage was created in the embankment linked to the fortress wall, and a fortress gate was built at the gatehouse erected on the passage. The gatehouse is a two story building of a type which can only be found at Sungnyemun and Heunginjimun, among the fortress gates of Seoul. The gatehouse was where the commander stayed to hold the gate and was used as a command post in times of emergency. 

Walls built with bricks and windows made of wooden plates were installed outside the gatehouse to defend the city against its enemies. The gatehouse of Heunginjimun clearly shows the architectural characteristics of the 19th century which includes a simple structural assembly and various decorations. In addition, a crescent shaped revetment was built in front of the gate to defend against invaders, and this revetment can only be found in this gate in Seoul.

The Heunginjimun Gate, also known as Dongdaemun Gate, is the Korea's National Treasure No. 1. 

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