South Korea – Seonjeongneung and Bongeunsa

Seonjeongneung comprises of Seolleung and Jeongneung. They are burial mounds of King Seongjong (1469-1494), his third wife Queen Jeonghyeon, and King Jungjong (1506-1544) of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Seonjeongneung is a UNESCO heritage site, and is located in the Gangnam district, a few minutes walk away from Seolleung Subway station (Exit 8). The burial mounds are spectacular, and the human and animal and statues are very life-like. Sadly, most of the area is cordoned off, which prevents tourist from taking a frontal view of the mounds. Leading to the burial mounds are two rock paths. The elevated one is the spirit road, a path for the spirit to walk on. The non-elevated one is the king’s road, which is for the living. Interesting huh~. Within Seonjeongneung, there is a museum, which gives a history of the Joseon Dynasty, as well as a documentary of how the mounds are built. 30min is more than adequate time to view the three burial mounds. However, with more time, one can explore the park, climb the hills and enjoy the lush greenery. Given that Gangnam is one of the richest district in Seoul, in the evening, you can see many people walking their expensive pure-breed dogs here.

A little history: King Seongjong (成宗) was the 9th emperor of the Joseon Dynasty. He was crowned at the age of 13, but only started ruling when he was 20, and passed away at the age of 37. His first queen, Queen Gonghye (恭惠) passed away at the age of 18, and was succeeded by Queen Yun (尹氏). She was later deposed and succeed by Queen Jeonghyeon (贞显). After King Seongjong passed died, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Yeonsangun, who turned out to be a tyrant. As such, he was overthrown in a coup and replaced by King Jungjong.

Seolleung and Jeongneung
Spirit Road
King’s Road
Red Gate
Park Path
Overview of a burial house
Seolleung. King Seongjong’s Tomb.
Seolleung. Queen Jeonghyeon’s Tomb.
Guardian of the tomb
Jeongneung. King Jungjong’s Tomb

After exploring Seonjeongneung, one can walk in the northeast direction towards Bongeunsa, which is situated opposite Coex Aquarium. The nearest subway to Bongeunsa is Cheongdam (exit 2). The main attraction here is the outdoor statue of a buddha with scriptures on his head. This temple complex isn’t quite big, but majestic enough, especially the main temple, with thousand small golden buddha statues plastered on the walls. On the day that I was there, there were demonstrations by activists against the government from repossessing some of the land of Bongeunsa. As such, there were many such banners around. Photos with those banners are thus not published (making the selection pretty meager. As I forgot to take my camera out this fateful day, the pictures of Bongeunsa were taken using my iphone, which wasn’t very good for taking shots at night.

Temple complex
Inside the main temple. Wall decorated with thousand golden mini Buddha.
Stairs leading to a quiet temple
A peaceful quiet temple at the back of the complex.

Nov 2012

Nami Island, South Korea

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