Deoksugung Palace was the location where Prince Wolsan, older brother of King Seongjong, lived. At the time, the residence was not known as a palace yet. The area consisted of residential buildings for descendants of the royal family.
During the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1592, the residential buildings became a temporary royal residence after all the other palaces were destroyed by fires.
Admission is included with the Integrated Ticket of Palaces.
Changing of the Guard Ceremony occurs at 11:00, 14:00, and 15:30.
In 1608, King Gwanghaegun was crowned king here. In 1611, the temporary residence was renamed Gyeongungung, thus making it a true royal palace. In 1618, Changdeokgung became the main palace after being rebuilt.
Gyeongungung, renamed Seogung (West Palace), became an auxiliary royal residence for for the next 270 years and played no important role until the end of the 19th century.
In 1897, Emperor Gojong established the Great Han Empire and moved here, which he renamed back to Gyeongungung and became the central palace of the empire. Gojong was determined to modernize the country as seen in some of the western style buildings.
In 1907, after his reign was over, Gojong continued to live here. His successor, Emperor Sunjong, renamed it Deoksugung in honor of Gojong. The name was meant to wish Gojong a long and prosperous life. Gojong lived here until here until his death in 1919 at Hamnyeongjeon Hall.
Many of the structures here have since been removed or sold. In 1933, all buildings except for a few central and western style buildings were removed. It was then made a park and opened to the public.
Since 2007, restoration work to restore Deoksugung Palace to its original specifications. This work has been ongoing.
What to see at Deoksugung Palace
Daehanmun Gate is the main gate of Deoksugung Palace. Located in the east, it became the main entrance of the palace after the completion of Wongudan Altar (Hwangudan Altar). The original main gate was Inhwamun. In 1970, it was moved to the west because of the nearby expansion of Taepyeong-no Street.
Geumcheongyo Bridge is located just past Daehanmun Gate on the grounds of Deoksugung. The bridge was built in 1411 and is the oldest surviving in Seoul. The bridge was excavated and restored in 1986.
Hamnyeongjeon Hall was the sleeping residence of King Gojong when he moved from the Russian Legation back to Deoksugung Palace (Gyeongugung) in 1897. Gojong also died at this location in 1919 at the age of 66. In 1904, the hall was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt that same year.
Located on the hill of the rear garden is Jeonggwanheon Pavilion. The pavilion was used for banquets for foreign visitors when they visited the palace. The building was constructed around 1900 by A.I. Sabatin, a Russian architect. He was influenced both by Korean and Western designs.
Junmyeongdang Hall was where King Gojong handled palace and state affairs during his reign. He also welcomed honored guests and foreign officials here. The original structure, along with Jeukjodang, was destroyed by fire in 1904. The hall was rebuilt later that same year.
Jeukjodang Hall is where King Gwanghaegun (1608) and King Injo (1623) were crowned as kings. Its name means “house where kings ascended their throne.” Gwanghaegun reigned from 1608 to 1623 while Injo reigned from 1623 to 1649. The original structure, along with Junmyeongdang, was destroyed by fire in 1904. They were both rebuilt later that same year.
Seogeodang Hall is an ordinary and plain two story wooden house where King Seonjo lived and died. He was the 14th Joseon king and ruled from 1567 to 1608. The design is ordinary without decorations or paint, which is similar to houses at the time.
Junghwajeon Hall is the main throne hall at Deoksugung Palace. Jeukjodang Hall originally served as the throne hall until Junghwajeon was built to the south. When the hall was built in 1902 it featured a two tiered roof. In 1904, it was damaged by a fire. It was rebuilt two years later with a single level roof as seen today.
Gwangmyeongmun Gate was once the south gate at Deoksugung Palace. It contains a water clock, a hanging bronze bell from 1462, and a rocket cannon. The gate, which resembles a pavilion once led to Hamnyeongjeon Hall, where the king resided.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Deoksugung
Seokjojeon Hall, built in 1910, is a Western style building used as an audience hall and sleeping quarters of King Gojong and later as an art museum. The architectural style is 19th century neoclassical, with ionic style colonnades, and a triangular roof. This is very unique to Korea and interesting compared to other buildings at Deoksugung.
Deokhongjeon Hall is where King Gojong met with high ranking and foreign envoys and other officials. Construction on the building was completed in 1911. The hall is one of the newest structures at the palace. Deokhongjeon Hall was built on the former site of Gyeonghyojeon, the spirit hall of Empress Myeongseong
Junghwamun Gate is the inner gate of Deoksugung and the main gate of Junghwajeon Hall. The gate, along with Junghwajeon, were rebuilt in 1906 after being destroyed by a fire making it one of the last structures built during the Joseon Dynasty.