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Gyeongbokgung’s main throne hall worth just W3.29b

Geunjeongjeon Hall, the main hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace in central Seoul (Cultural Heritage Administration)
Geunjeongjeon Hall, the main hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace in central Seoul (Cultural Heritage Administration)

Geunjeongjeon -- the main throne hall of Gyeongbokgung from the Joseon era (1392-1910) -- is worth around 3.29 billion won ($2.87 million), less than the average price of an apartment in Gangnam-gu, a district of Seoul known for its sky-high real estate prices.

Three other halls in the palace, which are designated as national treasures, were valuated at less than 2 billion won each, according to a document submitted by the Cultural Heritage Administration at the request of Rep. Kim Seung-su of the main opposition People’s Power Party.

The low valuations mean that should these cultural properties be damaged or destroyed, the insurance money would not be sufficient to cover the cost of restoration.

“We need to come up with measures to pay for restoration through insurance if they are destroyed or damaged, without investing a great amount of government expenditure,” Kim said in a press release. “We will examine the prices of the national properties, which are ridiculously low.”

When Sungnyemun -- National Treasure No. 1 -- was destroyed in an arson attack in 2008, restoration work cost 22.5 billion but the insurance only covered 95 million won, according to the CHA document.

Designated National Treasure No. 223 in 1985, Geunjeongjeon was built in 1394 -- the third year of the reign of King Taejo, who founded the Joseon Dynasty. It was burned down during the Japanese invasion of 1592, but rebuilt in 1867 during the fourth year of King Gojong’s reign.

Joseon kings conducted state affairs and met foreign envoys at Geunjeongjeon, and some had their enthronement ceremonies there. High-ranking officials, including military officers, assembled there to pay respects to their king.

More recently, BTS filmed a performance of “Idol” in front of Geunjeongjeon for its BTS Week special on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” which aired Sept. 29 (Korean time).

By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)
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