Bosingak Belfry Bell - The Second Official Treasure of Seoul

Bosingak Belfry Bell in Seoul is the second official treasure of Seoul and plays a big part in South Korea history.

Bosingak Belfry is located in Jongno and stands right at the exit of Jongkak subway station. Its presence is a vivid testament to the resilience of the people of this great city. The Bosingak Belfry was used during the Joseon Dynasty to keep the time. It was first built at the present entrance to Insa-dong in 1936.

The bell used to ring 33 times at four o'clock in the morning and 28 times at ten o'clock in the evening to declare the opening and closing of the gates to the walled capital city.

There were four gates at that time in Seoul that allowed people in and out.

These chimes represented the 33 heavens of Buddhism and the 28 solar stages of the zodiac. The bell was used as a siren when needed.

In 1413, the Bosingak Belfry Bell was moved to the crossroads of Jongno.

It was rebuilt in 1440 in a scale of 5 kan east to west and 4 kan north to south. Kan is a traditional measurement of the distance between two columns, varied in length according to the period.

The bell was hung on the second floor and people even on horseback, could pass underneath through the first floor.
Burned down during the Japanese invasion of 1592, it was rebuilt in 1619. It was rebuilt again after fired destroyed it in 1686 and 1869.

The king at the time, King Gojong, presented a plaque reading "Bosingak" to the belfry which was by then a one story gabled-roof building sloping on all sides, three kan wide and two kan deep.

The present name plaques bears calligraphy done by Singman Rhee, the first President of the Republic of Korea.

The bell now sits in the National Museum for preservation purposes.

The bell that replaced it in Jongno was made in 1985 with donations from the public.

Following road repairs in 1915, the building was moved slightly back from its original site. It was moved even further back following its destruction in the Korean War.

Finally in August 1979 when the precinct was reorganized and expanded, the belfry was rebuilt in its present location as a two story building five kan wide and four kan deep, giving it a total floor space of 175 square meters.

Bosingak Belfry Bell Back to Historic Sites