World ? Asia ? South Korea ? Seoul

Deoksugung Palace

Daily; not Mon
Hours: Mar-Oct: 9am-6pm; Nov-Feb: 9am-5pm
Cost: W1000; 7-18 yrs W500; seniors & under 18s free
Deoksugung Palace originally belonged to Wolsandaegun (1454-1488), the older brother of King Seongjong (1469-1494) of the Joseon Dynasty. It became a proper palace when Gwanghaegun (1575-1641) ascended the throne and gave it the name Gyeongwungung in 1611. Only later was the name changed back again.
Famed for its elegant stone-wall road, this is the only Seoul palace abutted by western-style buildings, but enter the palace precinct over Geumcheon bridge, wide enough for the king's carriage to pass, and you enter the past, with such buildings as the stately Junghwajeon and Jeukjodang, so-named because both Gwanghaegun and In-Jo ascended to the throne here.

Jeukjodang's front sign was written personally by GoJong in 1905 after he became king and Hamnyeongjeon was where GoJong slept: the east wing served as the king's room, and the west wing was for the queen.

There are two western buildings remaining in the precinct. Jeonggwanheon was the first built in western style, in 1900, and GoJong later enjoyed drinking coffee and spending his free time here. Still existing today are the secret passageways at the back of the building to the Russian Embassy!

The other western-style building is Seokjojeon, started by a Briton but, in 1905, falling to the Japanese, who assumed property rights. Finally completed in 1910, it became a Japanese art gallery after Gojong's death and, following Korean Independence in 1946, the American-Russian joint commission. The east wing is now the Palace Treasure Museum (included in the entry price), while the west wing forms part of the National Modern Arts Centre.
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