Which Palace? Or down the rabbit hole of research. Again.

Gate at the rear of Changdeokgung Palace

Which palace was used by the kings of Joseon[1] Korea in the mid-seventeenth century?

While researching this bit of information for novel 2 I came across the following pieces of possibly useful details:

King Injo (ruled 1623-1649):

King Injo as portrayed by Kim Jae-won in television series Splendid Politics
  • Grandson of King Seonjo, son of Grandprince Jeongwon, therefore not the son of the Crown Prince and not in direct line for the throne.
  • Came to kingship after a coup engineered by the ultra-conservative Western faction that resulted in dethroning King Gwanghaegun (reigned 1608-1623).
  • Injo had little authority during his reign, indebted as he was to the Western faction.
  • Reign marked by two Manchu invasions. The second invasion ended with Injo ceremoniously bowing to the Qing Dynasty[2] king and agreeing to send his first and second sons to China as hostages. They stayed there from 1636 to 1644, eventually bringing back to Korea a larger world view that included Catholicism and Western science.
  • Rejected his eldest son’s – Crown Prince Sohyeon – pleas for reform. Sohyeon died under mysterious circumstances in the king’s room, prompting many to conjecture that the king had killed him.
  • Injo appointed his second son, Bongrim, as Crown Prince rather than Sohyeon’s eldest son, Gyeongseon, a choice that had repercussions, including a heated debate on the length of time Bongrim’s (King Hyojon by then) mother should wear mourning attire after he died (more, indeed much more on this in Culture and the State in Late Choson Korea).


Crown Prince Sohyeon:

  • Converted to Catholicism while in Qing China.
  • His three sons were exiled to Jeju Island. Only one (not the eldest, Gyeongseon) returned to the mainland alive.
  • His wife, Crown Princess Minhoe, was executed for treason.

Mourning periods could be lengthy affairs in Joseon Korea and stretch to as much as three years during which mourners wore mourning attire:

  • untrimmed – coarse thick hemp (sometimes called burlap)
  • trimmed – coarse, loosely woven (thin) hemp
Funeral attire
From present-day traditional funeral

Photo found at http://sanchonhunjang.blogspot.ca/2005/11/sanchon-hunjangs-guide-to-korean.html

Seoul’s earlier names

  • Wirye-seong during the Baekje era (18 BC – 660 AD)
  • Hanju during the Shilla era (57 BC – 935 AD)[3]
  • Namgyeong during the Goryeo era (918 – 1392)
  • Hanseong during both the Baekje era and Joseon era
  • Hanyang during the Joseon era
  • Gyeongseong during the Japanese colonial era (1910 – 1945)

Palaces (finally!)


Gyeongbokgung Palace JYT 2015
Photo credit JYT 2010
  • Built in 1395 as the main palace of the Joseon kings, serving as their homes, the homes of their household and of the government.
  • Accessed through the Gwanghwamun Gate
  • Destroyed by fire (Japanese invasion) and left .abandoned between 1592 and 1867.
  • Rebuilt starting in 1867.
  • Demolished during the Japanese colonial era in the first half of the 20th century.
  • Restoration work has been ongoing since 1990.



  • Secondary palace established in 1395 to the east of Gyeongbokgung.
  • Destroyed by fire (Japanese invasion of 1592).
  • Reconstructed starting in 1609.
  • Burnt back down in 1623 during the coup that put King Injo on the throne.
  • Remained the site of the royal court and seat of government until 1868 (so I will assume that it was reconstructed soon after 1623)
  • Korea’s last emperor lived there until his death in 1926.


Huwon, the Rear Garden of Changdeokgung

P1050097 LR.jpg

  • 78 acres of landscaped lawns, ponds, streams and woods.
  • Also known as Biwon, or Secret Garden.


[1] The Joseon kings ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910.

[2] Qing Dynasty and Manchu can be used interchangeably from 1636 onward.

[3] The Shilla, Baekje and Gogoryo eras overlap and are known as The Three Kingdom era.



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