Unhyeongung Palace from Hapjeong station takes about forty-minutes on the green #2 line to Euljiro-sam-ga, then transfer to the orange #3 line traveling to Anguk station. Once at Anguk, go out exit number four, the palace entrance is two hundred yards down the sidewalk on the left. An entrance fee to Unhyeongung Palace is 700 won per adult including an informative pamphlet or less. Audio tour guide headsets are available in four languages, Chinese, English, Korean and Japanese, upon request at the ticket office.
Born in 1852, Emperor Gojang took over the throne at age twelve until he reached adulthood his father, Heungseon Daewongun, acted as his regent. At fifteen-years old, he married his sixteen-year old bride, Empress Myeongseong. During the Joeson Dynasty, royal weddings were an extravagant event with several rounds of ceremonies such as eoga haengnyeol, the royal procession showing the people the king’s coat of arms, the five directions b anner and other royal trappings.[i] Following the procession is bisuchaeg uisik, where she is formally installed and then chinyeong, where he takes her as the queen. [ii]
In the1860’s Heungseon Daewongun was known for his malicious wicked tyranny against native and foreign Catholics[iii]. By 1865 Daewongun was unable to perform as acting regent as Gojong reached adulthood and the accession to the throne promoted his son to acting King. In 1864, during his first year as reigning King, Gojong built Unhyeongung Palace.[iv] The first two structures erected were Noandang serving as a space for men consisting of nine total rooms and Norakdang comprising thirteen rooms where Empress Myeongseong learned royal etiquette. By 1869 the third (Irodang) and fourth (Yeongrodang) buildings were constructed.
In 1897, he proclaimed the founding of the Empire of Korea, officially declaring a new era name of Gwangmu because of rising pressure from overseas and within the country. Since the fall of the Ming Dynasty, King Gojong turned himself into the first imperial head of state as Gwangmu Emperor as well as the hereditary sovereign of the Empire of Korea.
Today, when you visit the palace there is an exhibition hall displaying artifacts and clothing from Emperor Gojong’s era. Artifacts such as drums, instruments, iron tools, pottery, and scrolls. The paper-thin walls covered in centimeter thick wood latticework adorn the doors and window coverings making the buildings seem fragile and fearing strong winds. Every building has two or three seven to nine foot tall-detached chimneys erected beside them. Each chimney is an integral part of the ondol heating system. An ondol is constructed of two cement slabs with a space of a few inches apart where hot water flows between. The hot water then heats the thinner of the two concrete slabs making the floor of the structure. Today, seventy-five percent of homes and restaurants in Korea have an ondol floor heating system. Several rooms are open with placards describing regular daily life and depicting scenes from the era. As well as mannequins are dressed in hanbok surrounded in the era’s decorations and furnishings.
For more information visit http://www.unhyeongung.or.kr
Annual Hours of Operation
09:00 ~ 18:00 November to March
09:00 ~ 19:00 April to October
[ii] same as i.
[iv] Renovation and repairs in 1996