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Published: November 23rd 2015
With a few hours to spare in the Gangnam area, I decided to head to these royal tombs. They are easily accessible from Seollung subway station, which is connected to both Line 2 and the Bundang Line. The tombs are about a five minute walk and you can see the car park first, which lets you know you are in the right place. The entrance fee was 1,000 won, a complete bargain. I paid my entrance fee and picked up an English leaflet. I have been to the royal tombs in Hwaseon, so I was curious to see how similar these ones would be. The trees were looking lovely with the autumn colours coming through.
I came across the first tomb that of King Seongjong, he was the 9th ruler of the Joseon Dynasty. I was careful to only walk on the king's road and not the spirit road, which is slightly elevated. The tomb was set out the same as those of Yungneung and Geolleung, that I had visited in Hwaseong. King Seongjong became king when he was 12 years old and ruled until his death at the age of 37. During his reign the main statute of the
Red Spiked Gate
Seolleung & Jeongneung
Joseon Dynasty, Gyeonggukdaejeon, was completed. His reign was also a period of peace and prosperity for the Joseon Dynasty and great advances were made in politics, economy and culture. After taking a look around the T-shaped shrine, I wandered along the path towards the tomb of Queen Jeonghyeon. You can't forget that you are in the middle of the city, as you can see the Ramada hotel behind the King's tomb.
Whilst walking along the path, there was a side trail that takes you right up close to King Seongjong's tomb. At the other tombs I had visited there was no path like this to get close, so I took the opportunity to get a little closer. it was really interesting to get up close to the burial mound and to see the stone figures in detail. They were awesome, I really liked them. They looked pretty imposing and definitely gave off the vibe that they were there to protect the King. Also it was great to look down on the T-shaped shrine and the Worship Road, they looked so pretty nestled among the trees. I also loved all the tall buildings, mostly office buildings, that are surrounding the
tomb complex. I really like the mix of old and modern, and to me it feels like another layer wrapped around the tombs to protect them.
I walked further around the park, there were a few people about. I can understand why they sell a yearly pass to this place, it would be a lovely place to come and spend your lunch break in, or take a early evening stroll. The tomb of Queen Jeonghyeon is set on higher ground. This one was a little more difficult to see due to being on higher ground. The spirit road and king's road continued up to the queen's tomb from that of King Seongjong's. The road was blocked off so us plebs couldn't walk along it. Queen Jeonghyeon was the third consort of King Seongjong. She lived from 1462-1530, which is a pretty long time, considering how long ago it was.
From Queen Jeonghyeon's tomb, I wandered around the park for a little while, as the last tomb, Jeongneung, was a bit further away, in the opposite corner of the park. The tomb of King Jungjong was quite busy, there were quite a few people taking photo there. I think
one group were a set of uni students doing a project. King Jungjong was the nsecond son of King Seongjong. He succeeded to the throne in 1504, when his elder half brother King Yeongsangun was dethroned in a coup. His reign wasn't really anything special. He attempted to carry out reforms to support Neo-Confufucian literati, but this didn't succeed and only lead to confusion during his reign. The area around this tomb is a lot more open and I could see the building that were close by. There were some villa style houses. I was in two minds how I would feel to live there, as it would be cool living so close to a piece of history, but as it was Hallooween, I think it would be a bit spooky after dark, too.
On the way back to the entrance, I passed the gatekeeper's house. It is also called 'Jaesil', which means house of purification. It is where the ritual providers stay and purify their minds and bodies for a few days before the date of the ancestral rite. Offerings are also prepared there. There are many rooms that are used for incense storage, storage for ritual objects,
a royal kitchen and servants' quarters. The buildings here are very simple and all the walls are white. I think this is to help people get in the right frame of mind before they preform rites. I really liked this building simple and elegant.
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