Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Royal Tombs

Holidays are often very crowded in Korea.  I wondered where a nice spot to sightsee would be on a Sunday afternoon that happened to be Parent's Day.  I thought no one would be at the Royal Tombs.

Think again...it was packed (for tombs anyway). 
 It was a really beautiful wooded area...nice to get out of the city - a little bit.  The Royal Tombs are located just outside of Suwon in Hwasan.
 Crown Prince Sado was born in Changgyeongung in 1735.  Changgyeongung is a Palace in Seoul where all kings were born (except for King Gojong as mentioned in the previous post).  He was married at the age of 9 to Lady Hong.  At the age of 27, his father didn't see him fit to be king, so his locked him in a rice chest until he died.  His son who would later become king, King Jeongjo, who built the Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon in honor of his father and moved his tomb outside of Suwon.  King Jeongjo was known for his filal piety.  In Confucian ideals, this is the virtue to be held higher than the others - a respect for parents and ancestors.  So, it would make sense, that this tomb was busy on Parent's Day.

There are a few rules regarding the tombs.  They must face south toward a body of water and be protected by a hill.  They may not be on a mountain or in a field.

First, you will always first pass through over a stone bridge which is a ceremonial cleaner.  Next, you pass through the red, spiked gate which reminds us that we are now in sacred ground.
The higher path is for the gods...so you should always walk on the right.  Just because you "should" walk on the right, doesn't always mean that everyone knows or does this.

This is a building were ceremonies were held.
You couldn't get very close to the tombs.  Korean tombs always seem to have these large, round mounds.  Everytime I've asked someone about this - the answer seems to be that they do this just because they always have.  They are several statues guarding the tomb.
I suppose you could skip the gate, but that infamous CCTV is watching you!
Next to the ceremonial building are the tombstones for Prince Sado and Lady Hong (who died in 1815 at the age of 80).  The front shows the person's name and the back tells their biography.

I went for a nice hike around the tombs.

King Jeongjo is a very famous King and he is noted for doing many great things.  He died in 1800 at the age of 48.  His wife, Queen Hyoui, passed away in 1821 at the age of 68.
This one needs a fresh coat of paint;)



It was a nice afternoon just a short bus ride away from Suwon.

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