© UNESCO/Seo Heun-kang/NRICHGwangneung
|2009||Inscribed||Reasons for inscription|Thibault Magnien (France):
Royal tombs of the Joseon dynasty are a group of 40 tombs located on 18 different sites. They were built between 1408 and 1966 to honor Joseon ancestorsí memories. They are organized on the same basis, with gates and buildings at the entrance and tombs set on the top of little hills called tumulis. On the top of these tumulis are also set up different statues representing people (soldiers, religious) and animals (sheep, cow, horses).
Some of these sites are located in Seoul and can be easily visited, taking the subway to the stop Seollung on line 2 (green) for example to see three of the tombs.
It's very interesting to visit these complexes to approach Korean culture and traditions. They are a great stone in the wall of Korean culture.
Date posted: April 2012 Ian Cade (England):
I didnít really do this site justice; my experience was limited to one group of tombs at Seollung in the south of Seoul. These are by far the most accessible being just a short walk from the Metro station with the same name.
It was an enjoyable park to wander around for a little while and you were able to climb up and get a close up view of two of the three tombs within the site. I was surprised to see how large the statues guarding the burial mounds were, and I must admit to being quite impressed. The park now also contains a small museum with information about the tombs which are spread out across Seoul and its environs. A slight frustration came from not being able to get a closer look at King Jungjongís tomb, from the base of the mound there isnít really a huge amount you can see. It seems that this is a bit of a frustration at many of the tombs, and I am sure there are legitimate reasons for it but it does make the visiting experience a little limited.
If I had been in Seoul for a little longer then I am pretty sure I would have visited more of these sites, but the draw of the cityís other delights kept me busy.
[Site 4: Experience 4]
Date posted: November 2011 Frederik Dawson (Netherlands):
During my conference trip to Seoul and Gyeongju, South Korea, I had managed to visit Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty, one of the most complete dynastic tombs in Asia, which located around the city and nearby provinces. From all tombs, I decided to visit two clusters, Seonjeongneung, better known as Seolleung in Southern Seoul, and another at Taereung in Northeastern Seoul. The reasons why I chose these two sites because of both has museum and interpretive center for tourists as well as easy connection with subway.
The tombs are located inside the beautiful forest parks, the surroundings are well kept with fantastic green lawn; however from my experience the tombs are hard to appreciate, as the sites are off-limited, few chance to see the details of stone decoration, but the museum and interpretive center can help with computer graphic show how to construct the tombs, and most important, the royal funeral ceremony as well as full size replica of stone decorations.
In my opinion, the Joseon Tombs can not be considered as a unique site, compared with Silla Tombs in Gyeongju, the latter are more interesting with treasure discovered and tumuli construction technique. Also most of the ancient tombs in East Asia, noble or normal people, are constructed under Fengshui doctrine. In ICOMOS report, I was surprised that ICOMOS and Korea use Chinese Imperial Tombs for comparative study as Emperor (huangdi) and King (Wang or Taewang) is totally different in tomb size and status. To be fair, Joseon Tombs should be compared with the tombs of Chinese ducal or princely family (Wang or Gu), or Japanís shogun family, as they have equal rank under East Asian sovereign and nobility system.
Sadly that most of the important tombs in China are destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, only few remain, and these tombs have many similarities with Joseon Tombs including stone decoration format design. The tombs of imperial eunuch even have more intricate details than the Joseon ones. So what is the outstanding universal value for Joseon Tombs in my humble opinion, the number of well preserved tombs is truly outstanding, better than in China or Vietnam, which dynastic line are shorter. All in all Joseon Tombs are a fine World Heritage Sites, it would be good if visit the tombs together with Jongmyo Shrine for complete understanding on royal Korean Confucian ancestral worship ceremony.
Date posted: October 2011 Kyle Magnuson (United States of America):
Some have said visiting one tomb is enough as they are all similar. Yes and no, each tomb follows a general pattern, yet most of the tombs have subtle variations. More importantly its hard to get the scope of the Royal Joseon Tombs with one tomb visit, because part of the wonder of these tombs is the meer number of them and their care in location and artistry. I visited about 8-9 Joseon Dynasty Tomb clusters in 2008 before it was inscribed as a WHS. The sites are extremly peaceful. The most impressive in my opinion is Donggureung which contains 17 tombs and the first King of Joseon Taejo. Gwangneung, Donguneung, and Gangneung are also worthwhile sites to visit. In the small city of Yeoju you can visit the tomb of King Sejong, probably the most celebrated Joseon king, who developed the Korean Writing system. One great thing about the Tombs is their location. Most of them are relatively easy trips from Seoul and provide a relaxing atmosphere and time for reflection. I had a great time taking buses all over Seoul searching out the next tomb, now the tombs are even easier to visit with its WHS inscription. Definetly a world class site.
Date posted: February 2010 Boj (Philippines):
During my 5-day trip to Korea, I was able to visit 3 of the Joseon tombs.
The first was Jeongneung (in Seoul, close to Sungshin Women's University subway station). I was a little upset because the park does not allow access to the tomb itself; I wanted to see the stone statues closer but there was a fence surrounding the elevated mound. Though I have to agree that this park is set in a quiet forested area away from the city noise.
The second one I visited was Seolleung (also in Seoul) and fortunately, the park management allows visitors to get closer to the tomb. The walk in the forest is a very pleasant experience.
The last was Yungneung/Geolleung in Hwaseong City, Gyonggi-do province. My Korean friend and I decided to see this place as we had extra time after visiting Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon.
All in all, the trip to these royal tombs is a wonderful experience. There are 40 inscribed on the list; 4 are found in Seoul. But I guess visiting one or two will suffice as they all look (almost) the same.
Compared to the Qing and Ming dynasty tombs in China, the Joseon tombs are smaller; but true enough, they have a special charm.
Date posted: January 2010 Leana Divine (USA):
I visited Sareung, the tomb of Queen Jeongsun, the queen of King Danjong, 6th monarch of Joseon. She became queen in January 1454. It's located in Namyangju, which is in Gyeonggi-province just east of Seoul. From Guri or Donong station (on the Jungang Line) you take the bus that says Sareung(or a taxi if you prefer) for a short distance to the tomb area.
There is a botanical garden/nursery at the entrance, where they are growing wildflowers, pine trees, and even some fruit. The people that take care of the nursery give you tea and allow you to take some wildflowers with you if you choose (for tea). They gave us tea to drink, as we walked through the pine forest to the tomb. They had an outdoor photography exhibit set up in the forested area featuring various photographs of wildflowers. After a short walk under the fragrant pines, you come to a clearing where the tomb sits about two-thirds up the mountain. It's a beautiful area and the tomb is guarded by various animals (stone sculptures).
Date posted: November 2009 Rob Wilson (UK / South Korea):
I am delighted to be the first person to review this lovely site. This is a fully deserved new addition to Korea's list.
I visited the Dongguerung site last weekend. It is a peaceful and charming place that seems to be relatively free of the tour bus hordes at the moment. The tombs can easily be reached with a subway to Cheongnyangni (line 1), then exit 5 and bus 202 (that heads away from Seoul, not the one towards!). It's about 30 minutes.
The tombs are set in a beautiful woodland park, and all seem to be aligned to different points of the compass. All the tombs are set atop large mounds. You are able to walk to the top of three of them without supervision. We were able to get up a 4th by tagging onto a guided group for a few minutes. The tombs are not grand, but are simply, elegant and charming.
A really nice 'bonus' about these sites is that the Korean Government, as a celebration of their WHS listing, has made them free to enter for period. Regualarly, the entry fee is still small ($1 or $2). Isn't that a lovely contrast with India or Egypt who would have quintipled prices for foreign tourists at the very mention of a WHS?
Date posted: July 2009
Have you been to Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty? Share your experiences!