Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
July 12, 2004
Built in 1410 to enshrine a portrait of Yi Seong-gye, the local born founder of the Yi or Joseon Dynasty, Gyeonggijeon Shrine rivals the Gaeksa as the most impressive of Jeonju’s historical monuments. The entrance is directly opposite Jeon-dong, marked by a painted main gate and a small tourist information booth. The main structures, whilst not particularly impressive in themselves, are set in the middle of walled grounds full of pine and bamboo trees, dusty paths leading through overhanging branches and aged wooden doors. Yi’s portrait is sited in a rear building, typically full-length with austere facial features and subdued colours, occupying the centre of a three sided building lined with portraits of some of his more renowned successors – Sejong, Yeongjo, Gojong and Jeongjo – and a number of original palanquins used in official ceremonies, such as the carrying of the portraits to the shrine.
To the right of the central shrine area a raised wooden building known as the Jeonju Sago holds historical archives detailing the administrative affairs of the king. A little further towards the external stone wall, close to a thick corner of bamboo, a stupa and stele hold placenta from the birth of King Yejong.
Leaving Gyeonggijeon, turn left and follow the road up to the Traditional Crafts Exhibition Centre, which sells a number of handmade products such as the famous Jeonju folded fans, Mulberry paper and calligraphy brushes. Continue on until you reach a T-junction, then follow the uphill path to the top, where a small road branches off to the right and Omokdae Pavilion, an historic site where King Mokjo once fought a tiger and Yi Seong-gye held a banquet to celebrate his victory over Japanese troops twelve years before he seized the throne. The views from here promise much but the tree cover obscures most of the traditional housing zone located below, meaning you can skip the whole thing with no real sense of loss. Of more interest is the Hynaggyo, a 17th century Confucian Academy hidden away to the right of the main road (walk under the footbridge and take the path that drops down to the right about 100 metres further on). From here you can loop back round past the Traditional Culture Centre and Calligraphy Museum to the rear of the cathedral.
From journal Where Dynasties Begin