- Name: Deoksugung Palace, 덕수궁
- Location: No.57 Namdaemun Road Jung District, Seoul, South Korea
- Reason to visit: One of the five royal palaces in South Korea; No.124 historical Site in South Korea
- Opening Hours: Each Tuesday to Sunday 9:00-21:00; Close in each Monday
- Entrance fee: Adult age 19-64: 1,000 won; Youth age 7-18: 500 won; Children under 7: free; Seniors over 65: free; Culture Day (the last Wednesdays of every month): free
- Recommended tour: 4 Days Classic South Korea Tour
As one of the five royal palaces in South Korea, Deoksugung Palace is located on the busiest street in Seoul. Deoksugung Palace is famous for its charming stone-wall road, and it is the only palace in Seoul with a combination of Eastern and Western architectural styles.
The meaning of Deoksugung Palace is a palace full of morality and longevity, which embodies the beautiful wish of the emperor's health and longevity. Generally speaking, Deoksugung Palace is divided into two parts: Korea traditional palace architecture and Western-style neoclassical structures.
History of Deoksugung Palace
Deoksugung Palace is the smallest palace among the palaces in Seoul. It was built at the term of the 20th century in the last Korea Dynasty.
Deoksugung Palace was used to be a residence for one of King Seonjo's relatives. The main palace was burnt down during the Japanese Invasion, so the king had no place to stay. He finally decided to choose this place as a temporary palace.
Prince Gwanghaegun renamed this palace as Hyeongungung Palace after he succeeded King Seonjo. Then Hyeongungung Palace has been idle for 270 years after King Injo ascended the throne.
Hyeongungung Palace was reused after King Gojong returned from the refuge with Russian legation in the late 19th century. He was a very ambitious man. He expanded this palace and renamed it as Gyeongungung Palace. He also announced to the world that he would build his own empire. He still stayed at this palace even he has been forced to hand over the throne to his son.
In 1910, Gyeongungung Palace was renamed as Deoksugung Palace and Japan officially ended the colonial rule of the Daehan Empire.
What to see in Deoksugung Palace
Daehanmun Gate used to be called Daeanmun and it was the east gate of Hyeongungung Palace. With the construction of multiple roads in front of Daeanmun, the east side of the palace gradually became the center of the city. So Deanmun has become the main gate of the palace. The traditional handover ceremony is usually held in front of the Daehanmun Gate, which is one of the highlights in Deoksugung Palace.
As the main hall of Deoksugung Palace, Junghwajeon is a place in which the state affairs were disposed, official events were held and foreign envoys received. There are two dragons carved on the stone in the middle of the step, which leads to the Junghwajeon Hall. The dragons symbolize the supremacy of the emperor. Nowadays, the Junghwajeon Hall and Junghwamun Gate are designated as the National treasure in South Korea.
Seokjojeon Hall is a Western-style stone structure building designed by a British architect. It's full of Western neoclassical style. The highlights of the building are the balconies which built on the front and both east and west sides. Seokjojeon Hall has three floors, and the first floor was used as a waiting room for the servants; the second floor was used as a reception area; the third floor was the residence of the empire. There is a fountain in front of Seokjojeon Hall, which is the earliest fountain in South Korea. It is said that the Western-style buildings in Deoksugung Palace were parts of the policy to promote modernization at that time.
Jeonggwanheon was built in 1900, which was the first Western-style architecture built in a royal garden. It became the most interesting place in the garden and the empire liked drinking tea, listening to music even having a party here. It's hard to believe that this building was designed by a Russian architect. Jeonggwanheon perfectly expressed the essence of Korean architectural culture.
How to get to Deoksugung Palace
Line 1, get off at City Hall Station, exit 2
Line 2, get off at City Hall Station, exit 12
Green Bus: No. 1711, 7016, 7022, 7019
Blue Bus: No. 103, 150, 401, 402, 406, N16, 172, 472, 600, 602, N62, 405, 400, 471, 101, 603
Express Bus: No. 1004, 8600, 8601, 8601A
Airport Bus: No. 6005, 6701