The Palace of Queens and Lovers

Changgyeonggung

창경궁

Changgyeongung Palace, located right next to another great palace – Changdeokgung – has a dramatic and turbulent history, full of dark surprises. Built as a complimentary palace for the king’s relatives and queens in the 14th century, Changgyeonggung has a seemingly more domestic, cozy feel. Not much has remained of the original complex since the majority of the buildings were demolished and the palace grounds were transformed into a botanical garden and a zoo under Japanese occupation. But it underwent a major restoration in 1983 in an attempt to restore it to its former glory, with many of its old buildings rebuilt according to the original architectural plans. 

  
Initially built in 1418 in honor of the third king of Joseon, Taejeong, by his son, the great King Sejong, the palace was not used often until it later became a residence for the queens and concubines. The palace then became witness to ruthless courtly intrigue, great love stories, devastating fires, and gruesome murders. This includes the execution of the royal concubine Jang Ok-jeong, her relatives, and the leaders of her entire political faction on allegations of witchcraft surrounding the death of Queen Inhyeon in 1701. A total of 1700 people were executed in this incident. 

 

Another infamous incident was the death of Prince Sado, which occurred just a century later. Often underappreciated and bullied by his father, the ruling King Yeongjo, Sado grew up to be an anxious, sickly young man. The Crown Prince’s mental health and relationship with his father deteriorated at an alarming pace. Soon his rage outbursts became violent: Sado first started beating, then killing, raping and torturing servants, ladies-in-waiting, and eunuchs. Many details of the prince’s sickening deeds and habits were documented by his wife in her memoirs. The outbursts continued, resulting in Sado killing his consort and battering his wife. He tried to commit suicide but was saved by the guards. As per royal customs, the crown prince could not be executed without subsequent exile or murder of his entire family and children, but something had to be done. So, on a hot July afternoon, the King ordered his son to climb into a wooden rice chest and closed it. Sado was alive for 7 more days until the chest was opened and he was pronounced dead on the 8th day. Until today the crown prince is known not by his birth name, but by the posthumous title Sado, given by his father – “Thinking of with great sorrow”.

 

The last tragedy to befall the palace was in 1907. After the coronation of the "puppet" king Sunjong (appointed by the Japanese) and his forced relocation from Deoksugung Palace to Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung was replaced by a botanical garden and a zoo. Until 1983, the site functioned as an amusement park before undergoing extensive renovations to restore it to its former glory and beauty. 
 

Information

Company NameChanggyeonggung (창경궁)
Category Outdoors & Adventure Tour & Sightseeing Others
Phone02-762-4868
URLs Homepage
Languages Available English Japanese Chinese
Opening HoursFebruary-May: 09:00 - 18:00 / June - August: 09:00 - 18:30 / September - October: 09:00 - 18:00 / November - January: 09:00 - 17:30

*Last admission 1 hour before closing
Closed DaysMondays

185 Changgyeonggung-ro, Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea 185

Take Line 4 to Hyehwa Station and go out Exit 4. >> Turn left out of the exit and walk straight for 300 meters until you reach the main road. >> Cross the road and turn left >> Walk straight about 150 meters. The entrance to Changgyeonggung Palace will be on your right.

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