Gwanghwamun Square is a public plaza located right in front of Gwanghwamun Gate and Gyeongbokgung Palace. It would not be an exaggeration that Gwanghwamun Square is one of the most famous and iconic locations in South Korea. The plaza carries historical significance with its over 600 years of history. In the square, the statues of the two most admired heroes by Koreans welcome visitors: King Sejong The Great (세종대왕) and Admiral Yi Sun-shin (이순신 장군).
On This Post
- History of Gwanghwamun Square
- Gwanghwamun Square’s Role for Korean People
- Makeover of Gwanghwamun Square
- The Square in Korean Dramas and Movies
- Things To Do near Gwanghwamun Square
172 Sejong-daero, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Seoul Metro (Subway)
- Line 3, get off at Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 6 or 7
- Line 5, get off at Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 1, 2, or 8
- Red Bus: 9709, 9701, 5000A, 5000B, 5005, 5500-2, 9000, 9000-1, 9200, 9401, or 9703
- Blue Bus: 103, 109, 150, 160, 260, 270, 271, 273, 370, 401, 402, 406, 470, 600, 601, 602, 606, 700, 702A, 702B, 704, 705, 707, 708, 720, 721, or 741
- Green Bus: 1020, 1711, 7016, 7018, 7019, 7022, or 7212
Website: Gwanghwamun Square website (in Korean and English)
History of Gwanghwamun Square
When Taejo Yi Seong-gye first founded Joseon Dynasty, he moved the capital from Gaeseong to Hanyang (Seoul’s old name) and built Gyeongbokgung Palace. And, he built the main avenue right in front of Gwanghwamun Gate by locating the offices of his main ministries along with the road. It was called ‘Yukjo Geori (육조거리),’ and it was definitely the main place of entire Joseon.
The square and Gwanghwamun Gate went through many historical ups and downs. Gwanghwamun Gate itself was burnt down twice during Imjinwaeran (Japanese Invasion in 1592) and the Korean War (1950). The place was rebuilt and got its fame and popularity back again and again.
Gwanghwamun Square’s Role for Korean People
Gwanghwanmun Square is also a symbol of Korean political movements and democracy. Many strikes and public gatherings have been held here. Especially in recent years, the plaza has become a place for political issues. Some travelers or visitors intentionally try to avoid the place if there are any big social events at the square.
New Makeover of Gwanghwamun Square
I took the pictures in this post before the current reconstruction. Gwanghwamun Square is planned to reopen to the public in July 2022 after a complete makeover. According to the City of Seoul, the new plaza will return doubled in size to include a park. However, the famous statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-shin will remain as they are. I will visit the square after its reopening and update it here. Please, share your comment if you visit the square before I do.
Gwanghwamun Square in Korean Dramas and Movies
The gunfight scene in K-Drama Iris (아이리스) was filmed at Gwanghwamun Square. The drama starred Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-hee, and Jung Joon-ho, and it was the first K-drama that got permission from the City of Seoul to close the traffic around the square for filming.
Other Korean Dramas including Queen and I (인현왕후의 남자) and The King: Eternal Monarch (더 킹: 영원의 군주) also include the scenes at the square. As for Korean movies, Illang: The Wolf Brigade (인랑) and Golden Slumber were also filmed here (and Gang Dong-won starred in both films.)
Things To Do near Gwanghwamun Square
Gwanghwamun Square is in the center of a lot of points of interest. The first and must place to visit is Gyeongbokgung Palace. This place needs no explanation. Visit The Story of King Sejong (세종이야기) and The Story of Admiral Yi Sunshin (충무공이야기) Exhibition Hall under (yes, under) the Gwangwamun Square (the entrance is located behind the statue of King Sejong The Great.) Cheonggyecheon, Jogyesa Temple, and Insadong are all within a stone’s throw. Or, you may catch a good show at Sejong Cultural Center right next to the square. Find its schedule here.
- Planning a trip to South Korea? Click here to find more destinations here.
- Do you want to study in South Korea? Here is a basic guide to start with.
- Want to learn about Korean culture and more? Click here to find more information about it.
- Trying to learn Korean language? I have some interesting real expressions for you.
- A big fan of Korean food? How about some Korean noodles?
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