Deoksugung Palace is located in downtown Seoul. It provides a stark contrast from the humdrum of busy metropolitan life and hearkens back to a time when royalty occupied the halls and buildings of the grounds. Also known as Gyeongun-gung, this is the smallest of all the royal palaces located in South Korea. The lovely grounds on which this grand palace in Seoul is located are popular for wedding parties taking photos, as well as businesspeople working in the area who look for a respite from their busy day by taking lunch on the grounds. The city's grand palaces also include the popular destinations of Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung.
Deoksugung Palace was constructed in the middle part of the fifteenth century. In 1592, all of the royal palaces were burnt to the ground by the occupying Japanese forces. One year later, King Sonjo made a home of a small villa located on the current grounds of this grand palace in Seoul. A subsequent king named Kojong expanded the palace in 1897 and made it appropriately sized and functional as the seat of government in Seoul. Still another king who came to power renamed the palace Deoksu-gung, which literally translates as Palace of Virtuous Longevity. Gyeongun-gung is a significant site to this day, not only as an important tourist attraction, but also as National Historic Site #124. The Sokchon-jeon Hall also is the residence for the Royal Museum in South Korea.
One of the best ways to fully appreciate the history of the Joseon Dynasty (approximately 1392 to 1900), is to take a guided tours of the grounds with a knowledgeable and multilingual Korean nationalist who understands and appreciates the significance of this site. This provides much in the way of inside information about how the occupation changed the face of modern Korea, and how society operated during the long reign of the Joseon throne.
There are several key buildings that you should not miss seeing when you visit the grounds of the Deoksugung Palace. The Taehanmun Gate is one of the most impressive structures on the site and is the place where the Changing of the Royal Guards takes place. Just as people flock to see this ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London, international and domestic tourists alike come in droves to see this highly organized and impressive ceremony played out beneath this historic gate.
Chunghwa-jeon Hall was the place of the royal throne and has been designated as National Treasure #819 by the South Korean government. This popular attraction is surrounded by a stone courtyard where many of the visitors to Gyeongun-gung hang out in between visiting the various buildings. The Chunghwamun Gate is another of the most popular attractions on the grounds. The columns and doors of this ornate gate are elaborately decorated and provide insight into the detail that was used to meticulously construct these most historic places in the city of Seoul.
Although it is the smallest grand palace in Seoul, Deoksugung Palace is one of the most interesting attractions to visit and the site of some of the most beautifully decorated and constructed royal halls and gates in the capital city.