The Resting Places of Kings and Queens - Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty

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The Joseon royal tombs are a collection of 40 tombs built from 1408 to 1966 in which 27 generations of Joseon kings and queens are buried. They have been well preserved and demonstrate Confucian values, funerary culture, geomancy, and architecture of the Joseon dynasty. They were selected as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2013.

Tombs played an important role in Joseon society, which was based on Confucianism. Ancestral rituals, which honored the dead, were held multiple times a year. The spirits of the deceased were believed to come back to their tombs during these rituals, and therefore, the tombs needed to be located in auspicious and beautiful locations and maintained in good condition in order to please the spirits. This was more so the case for royal tombs.

The royal tombs are located some distance outside the walls of the Joseon capital, Hanyang, but still within Gyeonggi-do Province (with one exception - the tomb of King Danjong in Yeongwol, Gangwon-do). Their locations were selected based on geomancy – in remote areas with mountains to the back and sides and flowing water to the front. The mound-shaped tombs were located atop a hill and surrounded by trees to protect them from the elements. There are various kinds of tombs styles which were chosen in harmony with the surrounding environment: single tomb (a single mound for a king or queen), twin tomb (king next to queen), triplet tomb (king and two queens), double tomb (king and queen buried in same mound), or “one site, two ridge” with tombs on adjacent hills sharing a ritual house. Each tomb has its own name ending in “-neung” or “-reung,” which means “royal tomb."

A royal tomb has two sections: the burial area and the ritual area. The burial area is located in the back of the complex on a hill, while the ritual area is located in the front, below the hill. The burial area includes the burial mound, a stone platform, a stone lantern, and stone figures of various animals, all surrounded by a low wall in the back and sides. Just below this are two rows of stone statues of civil and military officials and their horses. The ritual area includes a spiked, red entrance gate, a T-shaped ritual house, and various auxiliary buildings. The ritual house has a window along its back wall, through which the burial area can be seen as someone performs a ritual bow.

Locations of the Royal Tombs


Number Name Entombed Persons(s) Generation Date of Consturction Type
01 Paju Samneung Gongneung (恭陵) Queen Jangsun (Yejong's Original Queen) 08 1461, 1471(봉릉) Single tomb
Sunneung (順陵) Queen Gonghye (Seongjong's Original Queen) 09 1474 Single tomb
Yeongneung (永陵) King Jinjo and Queen Hyosun Honorary King: 1728, Queen: 1751, 1776(봉릉) Twin tomb
02 Paju Jangneung Jangneung (長陵) King Injo and Queen Innyeol (Main) 16 1731(이장) Double tomb
03 Gimpo Jangneung Jangneung (章陵) King Wonjong and Queen Inheon Honorary King: 1627(이장), Queen: 1626, 1632(봉릉) Twin tomb
04 Goyang Seooerung Changneung (昌陵) King Yejong and Queen Ansun (Secondary) 08 King: 1470, Queen: 1499 One site, two ridge
Gyeongneung (敬陵) King Deokjong and Queen Sohye Honorary King: 1457, Queen: 1504 One site, two ridge
Myeongneung (明陵) Sukjong, Queen Inheon (1st Secondary), and Queen Inwon (2nd Secondary) 19 King: 1720, 1st Secondary Queen: 1701, 2nd Secondary Queen: 1757 One site, two ridge
Ingneung (翼陵) Queen Ingyeong (Sukjong's Original Queen) 19 1680 Single tomb
Hongneung (弘陵) Queen Jeongseong (Yeongjo's Original Queen) 21 1757 Single tomb
05 Yangju Onneung Onneung (溫陵) Queen Dangyeong (Jungjong's Original Queen) 11 1557, 1739(봉릉) Single tomb
06 Goyang Seosamneung Huireung (禧陵) Queen Janggyeong (Jungjong's 1st Secondary Queen) 11 1537(이장) Single tomb
Hyoreung (孝陵) King Injong and Queen Injeong 12 King: 1545, Queen: 1578 Twin tomb
Yereung (睿陵) King Cheoljong and Queen Cheorin 25 King: 1864, Queen: 1878 Twin tomb
07 Seong Jeongneung Jeongneung (貞陵) Queen Sindeok (Taejo's Secondary Queen) 01 1409(이장) Single tomb
08 Seoul Taereung and Gangneung Taereung (泰陵) Queen Mungjeong (Jungjon's 2nd Secondary Queen) 11 1565 Single tomb
Gangneung (康陵) King Myeongjong and Queen Insun 13 King:1567, Queen:1575 Twin tomb
09 Seong Uireung Uireung(懿陵) King Gyeongjong and Queen Seonui (Secondary) 20 King: 1724, Queen: 1730 One site, above and below
10 Guri Donggureung Geonweonneung (健元陵) King Taejo 01 1408 Single tomb
Hyeongneung(顯陵) King Munjong and Queen Hyeondeok 05 King: 1452, Queen: 1513(이장) One site, two ridge
Gangneung (康陵) King Seonjo, Queen Uiin (Original), Queen Inmok (Secondary) 14 King: 1630(이장), Original Queen: 1600, Secondary Queen: 1632 One site, two ridge
Hwireung (徽陵) Queen Jangnyeol (Injo's Secondary Queen) 16 1688 Single tomb
Sungneung (崇陵) King Hyeonjong and Queen Myeongseonf 18 King: 1674, Queen: 1684 Twin tomb
Hyereung (惠陵) Queen Danui (Gyeongjong's Original Queen) 20 1718, 1720(봉릉) Single tomb
Wonneung (元陵) King Yeongjo and Queen Jeongsun (Secondary) 21 King: 1776, Queen: 1805 Twin tomb
Sureung (綏陵) King Munjo and Queen Sinjeong Honorary King: 1855(이장), Queen: 1890 Double tomb
Gyeongreung (景陵) King Heonjong, Queen Hyohyeon (Original), and Queen Hyojeong (Secondary) 24 King: 1849, Original Queen: 1843, Secondary Queen: 1904 Triplet tomb
11 Seoul Seonneung and Jeongneung Seonneung (宣陵) King Seongjong and Queen Jeonghyeon (Secondary) 09 King: 1495, Queen: 1530 One site, two ridge
Jeongneung (靖陵) King Jungjong 11 1562(이장) Single tomb
12 Seoul Heonneung and Inneung Heonneung (獻陵) King Taejong and Queen Wongyeong 03 King: 1422, Queen: 1420 Twin tomb
Inneung (仁陵) King Sunjo and Queen Sunwon 23 King: 1856(이장), Queen: 1857 Double tomb
13 Namyangju Gwangneung Gwangneung (光陵) King Sejo and Queen Jeonghui 07 King: 1468, Queen: 1483 One site, two ridge
14 Namyangju Sareung Sareung (思陵) Queen Jeongsun (Danjong's Queen) 06 1531, 1698(봉릉) Single tomb
15 Namyangju Hongneung and Yureung Hongneung (洪陵) Emperor Gojong and Empress Myeongseong 26 Emperor: 1919, Empress: 1919(이장) Double tomb
Yureung (裕陵) Emperor Sunjong, Empress Sunmyeong (Original), Empress Sunjeong (Secondary) 27 Emperor: 1926, Original Empress: 1926(이장), Secondary Empress: 1966 Double tomb
16 Hwaseong Yungneung and Geonneung Yungneung (隆陵) King Jangjo and Queen Heongyeong Honorary King: 1789(이장), Queen: 1815, 1899(봉릉) Double tomb
Geonneung(健陵) King Jeongjo and Queen Hyoui 22 King: 1821(이장), Queen: 1821 Double tomb
17 Yeoju Yeongneung and Yeongneung Yeongneung (英陵) King Sejong and Queen Soheon 04 1469(이장) Double tomb
Yeongneung (寧陵) King Hyojong and Queen Inseon 17 King: 1673(이장), Queen: 1674 One site, above and below
18 Yeongwol Jangneung Jangneung (莊陵) King Danjong 06 1698(봉릉) Single tomb
Located in Present-day North Korea Jereung (齊陵) Queen Sinui (Taejo's Original Queen) 01 1391, 1392(봉릉) Single tomb
Hureung (厚陵) King Jeongjong and Queen Jeongan 02 King: 1420, Queen: 1412 Twin tomb
Misc. Tomb of Yeonsangun King Yeonsangun and Queen Geochang 10 King: 1512(이장), Queen: 1537 Twin tomb
Tomb of Gwanghaegun King Gwanghaegun and Queen Munseong 15 King: 1641, Queen: 1623 Twin tomb

Related Articles

References

  • Koehler, Robert. 2011. Joseon's Royal Heritage: 500 Years of Splendor. Seoul Selection. p. 56-71.