Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main palace in the Joseon Dynasty, was built after King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty.
He had the capital moved to Hanyang during the fourth year of his reign (1395).
Its name, literally meaning “great fortune,” originated with a phrase of Sigyeong (Book of Songs), quoted by Jeong Do-jeon, an eminent scholar in the Joseon Dynasty: "I've already drunk and have been full with virtue, so I will help you get great fortune in my late year as a man of virtue.” In 1412, King Taejong had the lake expanded in Gyeongbokgung Palace and built Gyeonghoeru Pavilion to hold parties and welcome foreign officials visiting the country.
King Sejong succeeded King Taejong and mainly stayed in Gyeongbokgung Palace.
He built Jiphyeonjeon Hall to stay with the eminent scholars while building Borugak Hall north of Gyeonghoeru Pavilion to tell the time.
On the northwest corner of the palace, Ganuidae, an astronomical observatory, was constructed.
In addition, he built Heumgyeonggak Hall where Ongnugiryun (an astronomical water clock) was placed to tell the time and four seasons.
However, the whole palace was burnt down during the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592 along with the Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces.
In 1867, Heungseon Daewongun had the palace expanded and rebuilt, and it was far better than other palaces in size and style.
Nonetheless, it was vacated when Queen Myeongseong was assassinated in the palace in 1895 and Emperor Gojong moved to the Russian Legation.
When Joseon lost its sovereignty, Japan tore it down to use it as the government quarters of Japan; thus it almost lost what it used to be.
Today, the following main buildings still exist: Geunjeongmun Gate, Geunjeongjeon, Sajeongjeon, Cheonchujeon, Sujeongjeon, and Jagyeongjeon Halls, Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, Jaesugak Hall, Hamhwadang Hall, Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, Jibokjae Hall, Hyeopgildang Hall, etc.
Gyeongbokgung was built with the basic arrangement of China's ancient capital.
On the left of the palace was Jongmyo Shrine where memorial services were performed for deceased kings and queens.
At Sajikdan Altar, services for the gods of Earth and Crops were performed.
In front were some halls and quarters: Geunjeongjeon where kings held a national ceremony and high-ranking officials assembled to show the highest respect to their king, and; Sajeongjeon where kings attended to their work.
In the back are Chimjeon, bed chambers for kings and queens, and there was a garden where they rested.
It followed the style of a place for work located in the front and the place for rest located at the back.
It seemed to show that strict rules were implemented since it was the main palace in Joseon.
It was an important cultural asset that represented the main hall in the Joseon Dynasty since the main buildings like the main hall and pavilion remained and kept their original location even as most of the buildings had been gone.