The royal tombs of the Joseon dynasty are objects of exceptional importance for the country. As recognition for that, they have been enlisted in the list of the cultural heritage of UNESCO in alignment with the Convention for protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. The respect and the worship of the forefathers are considered very important in the Confucianism and it’s no coincidence that the graces of kings and queens are very well preserved.
Of all royal tombs in Korea, the ones of the Joseon dynasty are in the best condition. Neither one of them has been damaged or destroyed, and all of them are preserved in their original appearance. Their locations are chosen based on the geomantic traditions and the Confucian believes, e.g. that the place has been considered as a Godly space, isolated from the other areas. It is believed that the spirit of the kings and queens continues to have a positive influence on the dynastic capital of the nation. As a result of that, a large part of the tombs is located in Seoul.
There are 122 tombs of the royal family Joseon in total, divided according to the status: 42 neung, 14 won and 66 myo.
- Neung – it’s about the graves of the king and the queen;
- Won – it’s about the graves of the prince or the princes, as well as the parents of the king;
- Myo – it’s about the smaller members of the royal family.
Seolleung and Jeongneung Royal Tombs
These tombs are probably the easiest one to access in Seoul. They are located very close to one another in a large park complex in the Gangnam region. Due to the strategic location, you can see many office workers, who use their lunch break for a calm walk and clean air in the park.
Seolleung is a Royal tomb of the 9th ruler of the Joseon dynasty – king Seongjong and for his third wife – queen Jeonghyeon. The two tombs are located in the burial mound, each of them located separately of nearby hills. On the Western hill is the king, and in the Eastern hill is the queen.
The burial mound is where the inhabitant of the tomb rests in peace and is called “upper tomb” due to its location. In the distance the walls that protect the tomb from behind and on the sides can be seen. Here you won’t receive access to the inside of the tombs, neither can you walk nearby.
In front of the tomb are located stone figures with different forms – tigers, goats, horses, military personnel and civil-officials, pillars, as well as different platforms.
The stone figures of the military personnel of the lower platform, impressively and proudly holding hands on a long sword serve as a security for the deceased. Right next to them are the figures of the civil-officials, who hold a scepter in both their hands, standing one in front of the other.
The T-shaped shrine is the place where the ritual ceremony and the memorial service for the deceased.
On the top of this hill has been located the tomb of the 11th king of the Joseon dynasty – Jungjong.
The Incense Road connects the red gate and a T-shaped shrine. The path has two lanes on different levels. The higher level on the left is for the ecclesiastics and the lower path (the royal path) on the right is for the king.
I recommend visiting this cultural landmark during the spring or the autumn. Have an hour to walk around and see the monuments and the burial mounds.
- For adults – 1000 ₩
- For children – 500 ₩
How to get there
- Seolleung Station, Subway Line № 2, Exit #10