Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first royal palace built during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). First built in 1395 by King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeongbokgung served as the main royal palace in the heart of the Korean capital city. The palace steadily expanded before being burnt to ashes during the Japanese invasion of 1592. For the next 273 years, the palace grounds were left abandoned in ruins until being rebuilt and restored in 1867 under the commission of Prince Regent Heungseon Daewongun. The restoration of the palace grounds were completed on a grand scale, with over 300 buildings within the palace walls. The palace once again became the symbol for the nation and the Korean royal family.
Following the assassination of Empress Myeongseong within the walls of the palace in 1895 (after which the Imperial family left and never returned to Gyeongbokgung), Gyeongbokgung was systematically demolished during the Japanese occupation (1910-1945). All but 10 buildings were left standing by the end of the occupation.
In 1989, the South Korean government began a 40-year initiative to rebuilt and restore the structures that were destroyed during the Japanese occupation. By the end of 2009, approximately 40 percent of the buildings that were standing prior to the occupation were rebuilt. The South Korean government hopes to restore the palace to its former glory within the next 20 years.