Summer in Seoul – Changdeokgung

Glad the weather was good on the morning we visited Changdeokgung and the Huwon Secret Garden.  We walked to Changdeokgung after having breakfast in the apartment at Insadong.

Changdeokgung is also known as Donggung, the Eastern Palace, because of its location to the east of Gyeongbokgung.  Changdeokgung was constructed in 1405 by King Taejong (1400-1418), the 3rd king of the Joseon Dynasty.  During the Japanese invasion in 1592, all the palace buildings were destroyed by fire.  In 1610, Changdeokgung was restored and served as the main palace for about 270 years until Gyeongbokgung was finally reconstructed in 1867. The Palace’s rear garden, Huwon Secret Garden, is considered an excellent example of Korean garden design.  In 1997, the Changdeokgung Palace complex was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List for its outstanding architecture and a design that is in harmony with the landscape.

Donhwamun is the main gate, situated in the westernmost part of the palace, and was used for ceremonial affairs such as royal processions; court officials used Geumhomun in the west of the palace. Restored in 1609, Dohwamun is a two-storey wooden gate with the first level providing the passage and the second level being used for surveillance. In front of the gate was a double stone platform that served as a waiting place.  The district of government offices was extended from here all the way to Jongno. (In Korean, “gung” means palace and “mun” means gate)

Donhwamun – The main gate into the Palace

After walking through Injeongmun, we reached the Injeongjeon (The Main Hall) where the coronation of the king and other official grand ceremonies were being carried out.

Walking through Injeongmun to the Injeongjeon (The Main Hall)
In the foreground are the tablets with inscription of the title of the government officials indicating their standing position for official ceremonies.  In the background, is the Injeongjeon (The Main Hall)
The King’s throne in the Injeongjeon (The Main Hall)
Entering the gate to Seonjeongjeon, an office for ruling officials
The Seonjeongjeon is where the king held his daily meetings with his ministers, reported on state affairs.

Huijeongdang, originally the king’s bed chamber, became the king’s workplace after Seonjeongjeon was deemed too small for conducting routine state affairs. In 1917, Huijeongdang was destroyed by fire.  The existing building was reconstructed with dismantled materials from the king’s residence at Gyeongbokgung, and was reconstructed entirely different from the original.

Entrance to the Huijeongdang – King’s place of work and bed chambers

As we proceed, we reached the residence of the Crown Prince Hyomyeong, the eldest son of King Sunjo when Changdeokgung served as the main palace. Among the many buildings were Seongjeonggak (the Crown Prince’s study room), Samsamwa (a hexagonal pavilion), Chilbunseo (a storeroom for book collections) and Seunghwaru (a library), which were all connected by corridors.  And we are getting closer to the Secret Garden.

Samsamwa in the middle with Chilbunseo on the left and Seunghwaru on the right

Touring around Cheongdeokgung reminds me of the Korean Drama, Moon Embracing the Sun, which was aired in early 2012, a historical-fantasy drama adapted from a novel of the same name. The drama is about a love story between the fictional king of the Joseon Dynasty and a female sharman against the backdrop of a Korean traditional palace.  The lead actor is Kim Soo-hyun, who also acted in My Love from the Star.  Guess you could tell that I am a Korean Drama fan. 🙂

For my earlier post, check out September in Seoul. Stay tune for my next post on The Secret Garden!


Changdeokgung & The Secret Garden

For Opening & Tour Hours, do check

How to get there: Exit 6 of Jongno 3-ga Station (Line 1, 3 or 5) or Anguk Station (Line 3)

If you plan to visit Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung and The Secret Garden only, you should consider purchase separate tickets rather than the Royal Palace Combination Ticket.

For further information, do check


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