Deoksugung Palace‘s Dondeokjeon, a former diplomatic center for the Korean Empire, is reopening after 100 years. It will open on October 26, 2023. Dondeokjeon is a two-story Western-style building located at the back of Deoksugung Palace’s stone hall. It was built in 1902-1903 as a Western-style guesthouse for the 40th anniversary of Gojong’s ascension to the throne.
The term 돈덕(惇德)comes from the ancient Chinese text in the Book of Shijing, which means “let the virtuous rise to the top, trust those with high virtue. The “virtuous” refers to the various nations a country needs to interact with and build trust with. Dondeokjeon was used by the emperor to receive diplomats, hold banquets, and host foreign dignitaries.
Dondeokjeon is said to have fallen into disuse in the 1920s, and was then destroyed by the Japanese. Excavations began in 2017 and reconstruction began in 2018, bringing the site back to life after a six-year hiatus. The reconstructed Dondeokjeon retains its significance as a diplomatic center for the Korean Empire, while transforming its interior into an exhibition hall, a space for cultural and artistic events, and a library.
Let’s enjoy this beautiful two-story building that is made of red and gray bricks with an eclectic mix of Gothic and Renaissance architecture!