After visiting Changdeokgung Palace, our next stop is to The Secret Garden. The Secret Garden (Huwon) is a rear garden at the Changdeokgung that flows naturally with nature and was used as a place of leisure by members of the royal family. At 78 acres, the Secret Garden takes up about 60% of the palace grounds. Artificial landscaping is minimal and many of the trees are over 300 years old. The landscaping and trees are a great example of Joseon Dynasty gardening design. Be prepared for lots of walking and climbing through the gullies and over the ridges.
The secluded Secret Garden has been used by the royal family as a place of rest since the reign of King Taejong, a place where they contemplate life, write poems, hold banquets and archery range. Military drills were conducted here in the presence of the king. Its location allowed access from either Changdeokgung or Changyeonggung.
The highlight of the Secret Garden is the two-storey Juhamnu Pavilion built in 1776. The first floor served as a repository of Gyujanggak, Royal Library, and the second floor was a reading room for the king. The pavilion is located on a small, peaceful square lily pond with a little island in the centre of the pond. Building a pavilion next to a pond brings out the idyllic feel, definitely an ideal place to contemplate life and write poems.
Following pictures capture the different angle of the Juhamnu Pavilion and the pond.
Crown Prince Hyomyeong (1809-1830), the first son of King Sunjo, was noted for his fine character and tremendous intelligence. He began to administer state affairs on behalf of King Sunjo at the age of 18 but died at the age of 22. The crown prince built a number of facilities to create a new garden, underwent academic training, and contemplated on state governance here. Uiduhap, which the crown prince used as his study, is the most modest of all buildings on the palace grounds. These are the only buildings in the palace that face north, making them suitable for reading and contemplation.
The short live of Crown Prince Hyomyeong, reminds me of the Korean period dramas I have watched, the conflicts and conspiracy of vying political powers among the royal family where someone will end up being the victim and sacrificed. Perhaps I have been watching too much Korean drama. I enjoy watching Korean drama as it allows me to detach myself from the reality just for the moment.
The Lowdown – Changdeokgung & The Secret Garden
Getting there: Exit 6 of Jongno 3-ga Station (Line 1, 3 or 5) or Anguk Station (Line 3)
For Opening & Tour Hours, do check eng.cdg.go.kr
If you plan to visit Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung and The Secret Garden only, you should consider purchasing separate tickets rather than the Royal Palace Combination Ticket as the Combination Ticket do not grant access to The Secret Garden unless prior arrangement for the ticket is made. Do also take note of the tour timing as visitors are not allowed to enter The Secret Garden without a guide.
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