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Uihyojeon Shrine Remains Intact in Changdeokgung

Posted August. 02, 2007 03:05,   


Uihyojeon, a royal shrine in Gyeongungung (Gyeongun Palace, former Deoksugung), which had formerly known as being located at a playground of Deoksu Elementary School, was found to have been relocated to Changdeokgung, according to reports yesterday.

The playground site has been creating controversy as parents of the students in the school filed a petition against the Korea Democracy Foundation, which has been pushing for the construction of a memorial hall here.

Lee Kang-kun, a professor of the Department of Cultural Assets of Gyeonju University, and a specialist in palaces, said on Wednesday, “The investigation on Uirojeon in front of Shinsunwonjeon (a royal shrine that holds portraits of kings of the Joseon Dynasty) confirmed that this is the Uihyojeon, which Japan moved from the playground of Deoksu Elementary School to the current location around 1921.”

Uihyojeon is a worshipping place of the diseased in Deoksugung. The memorial tablet of Queen Sunmyeong, wife of King Sunjong, has been enshrined there since her death in 1904. From 1920 to 1921, reports said it would be moved to Changdeokgung along with Sunwonjeon in Deoksugung. Since then, nobody has known where it was relocated.

With the existence of Uihyojeon confirmed, some point out that the construction of a memorial hall is unreasonable in that the shrine can be transferred to the original site again and restored. An official of the Cultural Heritage Administration said, “The site should be reserved for a plan to preserve the shrine over a long period of time, so it’s not acceptable to build a hall there.”

Until now, Uirojeon in Changdeokgung has been assumed to be a shrine for king’s relatives, though there was no knowledge of when it was built.

According to Professor Lee, Uirojeon and Sinsunwonjeon are not included in a map drawn in 1820 for Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung, and are not included on another map that was assumed to be drawn by the Japanese in 1907. Only “Daebodan,” an ancestral feast shrine, appears in the maps around the presumed location.

A combination of reports that Uirojeon and Sinsunwonjeon were established at the site of Daebodan and Sunwonjeon and that Uihyojeon were moved to Changdeokgung in the years between 1920 and 1921 indicates the shrine is Uihyojeon.

Lee also pointed, “The document recording the process of how the royal portraits were enshrined there also calls the building in front of Sinsunwonjeon as ‘original Uihyojeon.’”

As for the reason why Uihyojeon was changed into Uirojeon, he made a explanation that after spirit tablets of King Sunjong and Queen Sunmyeong were moved to Jongmyo in 1928, the tablet engraved with the letters of Uihyojeon was taken off from the shrine and the Chinese “hyo,” meaning filial piety, came to be misread as “ro,” referring to ageing, which looks similar to “hyo.” The tablet is currently being stored by the National Palace Museum of Korea.