Changgyeonggung: Korea in a Nutshell Walking Tour

Saturday, April 14, 2018 -
2:00pm to 6:00pm
Anguk Station, Exit 4, Seoul
20,000W for members and 25,000W for non-members
Tour Leader: 
David Kendall

Once a royal residence, Changgyeonggung has symbolized a tumultuous struggle with national identity in real-time from the early 1900s to now. Joseon’s last rulers and colonial Japanese administrators began transforming this palace (gung) into Changgyeongwon in 1909. Like Tokyo’s Ueno Park, it had a zoo, botanical garden and museum showcases. Park Chung Hee’s government feted Changgyeongwon’s 60th anniversary with reparations from Japan, expanding the zoo and adding an amusement park. Subsequent dictators burnished cultural sites ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics and began palace restoration. Democratically elected administrations have since progressively stripped the grounds of Colonial and Authoritarian Era remnants in homage to Joseon and Korea. 
From Anguk Station Exit 4, we will walk to Changgyeonggung, going under the future pedestrian overpass that will reconnect Jongmyo Shrine. The tour begins at the aptly named Honghwamun (Gate of Vast Transformation). Though this palace has Korea’s oldest throne hall Myeongjeong-jeon (1616), few of the original structures remain, having been pulled down for the zoo, museums and fun rides. In front of Munjeong-jeon (restored 1983), King Yeongjo ordered Crown Prince Sado entombed alive in a rice chest in 1762. The birthplace and residence of Sado’s son King Jeongjo have also been restored.
All Japanese and authoritarian touches have been erased. The zoo site is now walkways through a manicured lawn. The Japanese botanical garden was refashioned in a Korean style. The Joseon-commissioned 1909 greenhouse Daeonsil has been preserved and recently remodeled. With luck, cherry blossoms on the few trees among the hundreds that once carpeted the park will be in bloom. Korean red pines now cover what was the amusement park site and the bluff above it. On that highest spot stands the site of Lady Hyegyeong’s residence. This is where she wrote of her husband Sado’s macabre life and death in her memoirs. It is also the site of Korea’s first national museum. The tour will officially end at the remnant of Sado’s shrine Hamchunwon now on the campus of Seoul National University Hospital across from the palace.

Anyone wishing to continue on to Daehak-ro for jeon and makgeolli is welcome.

David Kendall did his master’s thesis on Changgyeonggung, i.e., successive efforts by its hosts to fashion a compact, readily digestible image of Korea on its grounds. A former editor and writer for Yonhap News and He now does PR for a law firm and freelance editing/translation work through
Check for confirmation of event by Thursday, April 12, at


To register your RSVP for Changgyeonggung Walking Tour, Saturday, Apr. 14, 2018, simply click here by Wednesday, April 11, 2018.  
                         Please register one RSVP at a time.

This excursion will be confirmed after the sign-up deadline. Please remit payment for the tour only after you receive a confirmation to: Shinhan Bank 100-026-383501 (RAS-KB)

Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is open Monday through Friday from 10 to 5 but we are short staffed and there are meetings elsewhere often: please call or email before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796
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