G Square © 2010 David Richler. All rights reserved.

Gwanghwamun Square

These photos were taken in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square, a newly renovated in the center of the city’s busiest intersection between Sejong-ro and Cheongye Square, which is the starting point of the Cheonggye Stream (the subject of a future post). It was created by reducing 16 lanes of traffic down to 10, resulting in a space which covers 557 meters lengthwise, and 34 meters across. Inaugurated in 2009, it conveys 600 years of Korean history, not only through two large , but also in a massive space underneath the square that includes The Sejong Story exhibition hall. The exhibition hall stretches beyond the square to connect it to the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, the largest arts and cultural complex in Seoul. Together with the square and the palace, the entire area seamlessly combines traditional Korean culture with the contemporary arts in a very modern and forward-thinking public space. Below you can see the view from the far end of the square looking onto downtown Seoul.

As the downtown area’s main public square, it is also an amazing place from which to descend upon the magnificent and sprawling Gyeongbok Palace (below), which lies at the tip of Bukaksan mountain (seen in the distance).

It features two impressive monuments. The first (see below) is of Yi Sun-sin, a 16th century naval commander who served under the Joseon Dynasty.

The attention to detail is amazing, for example this engraving which appears on one side of the monument.

The second and more prominent of the two monuments is of “The Great” King Sejong (below), the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty. He ruled for 32 years from 1418-1450, during which he created the Korean alphabet, Hongul. Considered the greatest king in Korea’s history, an 86-episode television drama which aired in 2008 was also devoted to his life and achievements.

He’s also the face of the 10000 Won bill (equivalent to about $10).