Seoul City Walking Tours

Lives of Sungkyunkwan Confucian scholars – Space and Figures

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Walking Tour Introduction
Lives of Sungkyunkwan Confucian scholars – Space and Figures
Sungkyunkwan was a royal university of the Joseon Dynasty and also a Confucian shrine. The place became famous after the popular TV drama ‘Sungkyunkwan scandal’. This course will walk you through the lives of the Confucian scholars, their living spaces, and the stories behind the historical Figures that walked about this place.
Walking Tour Details
Tangpyeongbi∙Hamabi∙Bansu - Daeseongjeon - Ginkgo Tree - Myeongnyundang - Bicheondang - SungkyunKwan University museum - Jongyeonggak·Yugilgak·Hyanggwancheong - Jeongnokcheong - House of Jang Myeon

Length of tour : 2 hours

Meeting Place : Main entrance of Sungkyunkwan University
Major Tourist Attractions
The stream that comes down from each side of Sungkyunkwan and flows to the front of Sungkyunkwan is called Bansu. Today the stream is covered up so it is no longer present. We can infer the stream’s existence by making a short trip to Changgyeonggung jipchumun. Due to the geological inclination of the rear side of Sungkyunkwan, it seems obvious that there used to be a stream of water flowing from the rear side. People needed to cross Bansugyo (Bansu bridge) in order to enter Sungkyunkwan. During the summer, scholars would swim in the water here. Bansu also meant Sungkyunkwan itself in the Joseon period, which lead Sungkyunkwan to have another name called Bangung. Also, the scholars in Sungkyunkwan were called Banyu.
This is the place where the king’s sedan chair was laid down. The space was not only used to put the chair at rest but also to provide a resting place for the king before he entered Sungkyunkwan. Also, the king would host gwageo test at this place. In 1492, during the King Seongjong period, the king hosted Dae-Po-Rye(大酺禮) to serve food and liquor to the scholars. At the event, there were about 10,000 scholars and officials from 8 different states that partied and sang while they put flowers in their hats.
Daeseongjeon Area
This area was used for housing the people who perform rituals and also as a storage space to keep ancestral tablets and equipment used during the ceremony. In China and during the Koryo dynasty, the area stored both statues and tablets, but in the Joseon dynasty, only tablets were kept here.
This is the building where the king stayed during the gwageo test. The building was constructed in the later years of the Joseon dynasty. Court ladies held Buddhist services in a building called Jasuwon (慈壽院, or Jasu Palace). In 1661 the building was brought down to build a new educational institution called Bukhak(北學). After the construction of Bukhak, Bicheondang was built using the remaining lumber.
Ginkgo Tree
According to legend, there was a Ginkgo tree near the rostrum of Confucius. Hence in Confucian societies in East Asia, an institution would plant a Ginkgo tree as a symbolic demonstration of educating Confucianism. A Ginkgo tree near a rostrum is called Hang-Dan (杏壇). In China, Hang(杏) means peach tree and not Ginkgo tree, so using the term Hang-Dan might be incorrect. In Beijing University and Tokyo University, there are still a lot of Ginkgo trees. There are also a lot of Ginkgo trees in Daehakro, where Seoul National University used to be.
Myeongnyundang was a lecture hall for the students and the Confucian scholars in Sungkyunkwan. Dongjae and Seojae (East and West wing) are dormitories.
Jongyeonggak is the library built in the King Seongjong period, due to a proposal by Hanmyungwhoe. Kings were the main provider of books, and records show that Gwanghaegun sent five sets of The Book of Odes to the library. Since one can easily presume that manuscript versions far outnumbered the printed books during the Joseon dynasty, the library of Sungkyunkwan was a coveted place for rare and precious books.
Yugilgak was where Sungkyunkwan officials kept various tools, equipment and other paraphernalia for archery. Archery has long been deemed one of six cardinal arts necessary for scholars. Hence the name of the pavilion Yukil means ‘one of six cardinal arts’. The pavilion was built in commemoration of the Great Archery Feast held by King Youngjo in 1743. The record shows that the king shot four arrows, and three of them hit the mark. To celebrate the feast, the king bestowed royal liquor/drinks (Eo-ju[御酒]) to the students that attended, and ordered officials to record the whole event on a tablet, and adorned the eaves of the Myeongnyundang with it. Furthermore, in May of that year, the king ordered the building of a pavilion at the location of the shooting and feast. Since then, the building has been used to keep tools, equipment and other paraphernalia for archery in safe custody.
Map of Walking Tour Route