Donggureung Tombs - 동구릉 (東九陵) (built 1408-1904)
Donggureung (The East Nine Tombs) is located just east of the Seoul Metropolitan area. It was the burial ground of some of the Joseon (Chos�n) dynasty (1392-1910) kings and queens. Although there are nine mounds visible, there are actually six kings, nine queens, and a posthumously declared king and queen buried here. The earliest tomb was constructed here in 1403 and the latest in 1848. One historical highlight is the tomb of the dynastic founder King Taejo (Yi Seonggye).
All of the tombs are constructed in the same general style, with a three-part sequence that includes a ceremonial gate at the front, a T-shaped sacrificial hall at the center, and a large mound in the rear, the top of which is covered with smaller mounds and stonework.
A) Front Offices Although built in a historical style, these offices are relatively new.
B) Sureung This is the tomb of Prince Ikjong and Princess Jo. Prince Munjo, the son of King Sunjo (the 23rd king), did not live long enough to reign. Munjo married at age 11 and died at 21. His father loved him greatly and ordered a kingly tomb, or "neung", built for him. The prince was given the title of Ikjong posthumously. His widow Queen JO was buried here in 1890. Her tomb is to the right of Ikjong's tomb. Three years before Ikjong's death, the queen gave birth to a son who later became King Heonjong, the 24th king. Dowager JO lived to be 81. She was responsible, with help from Heungseon, for installing Gojong on the throne as the 26th king in 1864.
C) Hyeonneung Hyeonneung is the tomb of King Munjong (5th king) and Queen Gwon. The raised walkway leading to the shrine has an extra right-angle turn. In addition to the usual stone fence, King Munjong's mound has a 12-sided retaining wall inside the fence.King Munjong was an extremely learned man and published many books on Korean history. He was the son of King Sejong, considered to be the greatest of all Joseon kings. Munjong died at age 39 after reigning only 3 years (1450-52). Queen Gwon died in 1441 but her remains were interred here only in 1513.
D) Mongneung (off limits at time of visit) This is the tomb of King Seonjo (r. 1567-1608), Queen Bak, & Queen Kim. To the right of his tomb stand the twin tombs of Queen Bak and Queen Kim. The King's tomb has a 12-sided retaining wall and the Queen's tombs have a rock fence. During King Seonjo's reign, the Japanese general Hideyoshi Toyotomi tried in 1592 to conquer Korea. Although this attempt failed, King Seonjo and his retinue were forced to flee north of Pyeongyang. Queen Bak died without a son but Queen Kim bore a son two years before Seonjo died.
E) Geonwonneung This is the tomb of King Taejo, the first king of the Joseon dynasty. Taejo, originally known as Yi Seonggye, founded the dynasty in 1392. He reigned from 1392-1398 and went into retirement. At his death in 1408, his fifth son King Taejong constructed his tomb. Unlike the other tombs, the stone horses stand directly behind, rather than beside, the civilian and military leaders.
F) Hwireung The tomb of Queen Jo, the second wife of Injo, the 16th ruler of Joseon. She became queen in 1638. Her husband is buried near Munsan with his first wife, since Queen Jo outlived the following two kings and died in 1688 during the reign of Sukjong, the 19th king.
G) Wolleung Wolleung is the tomb of King Yeongjo, the 21st ruler of Joseon, and his wife Queen Kim. Yeongjo died in 1778 at age 82. The son of Choe Sukbin, a concubine of king Sukjong (19th king), Yeongjo acceded to the throne upon the death of Gyeongjong, his half brother and son of Jang Huibin. Rumor has it that King Gyeongjong died of eating a shrimp salad poisoned by Yeongjo, but there is no proof that Yeongjo was responsible. King Yeongjo reigned for 52 years, longer than any other king of the Choson dynasty. He is credited with many reforms but is often remembered for killing his own son, prince Sado, whom he accused of treason. Sado was forced to take his own life by climbing into a rice chest, in which he died of thirst nine days later.
H) Gyeongneung The tomb of King Heonjong, the 24th ruler of the Joseon dynasty, is the sole example of a tomb with three mounds enclosed inside the same wall. Heonjong became king at age seven and married Queen Kim at age 11. Queen Kim died when the king was 16. Two years later at 18, he married Queen Hong. King Heonjong reigned for 15 years (1834-49) and died at age 22. Both queens are buried in separate mounds to the right of the King's tomb. Queen Hong was the last member of the royal family to be buried at Donggureung. She died in 1904 at age 73.
I) Hyereung Here lie the remains of Queen Sim, the first queen of King Gyeongjong, the 20th ruler of the Choson dynasty (r. 1720-24). Gyeongjong was the son of the infamous concubine Jang Huibin. He suffered lengthy illness during his reign as a result of (some say) harm in 1718 before her husband became king.
J) Sungneung (off limits at time of visit) Sungneung is the tomb of Hyeonjong, the 18th king of Choson. Queen Kim is interred in a separate burial mound to his right. Hyeonjong became king in 1659. He reigned for 15 years (1659-74) and died at age 33. His only son Sukjong, who built the North Fortress, is buried at Seoreung.
Address: 경기 구리시 인창동 산 2-1.
(Designated Historical Site #193).
Click on any of the red arrows to view that location.
Image adapted from site brochure.
All images copyright 2002 Timothy M. Ciccone
Image map from signpost on site. Written information from site brochure.