When East meets West: A stroll through Deoksugung Palace

Deoksugung palace winter
Deoksugung Palace

Seoul is enjoying some amazing amount of sunshine lately. As I settled most of my presentations and papers, it is time to step out from my home or the campus to catch some fresh air and sunshine before it gets hotter the end of the month.

And so there goes this post about one peculiar building among the concrete forest of downtown Seoul. Hidden in the midst of the high-rise buildings, the existence of Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) is noticeably incongruous. Having only visited the National Museum of Contemporary Arts which is located in the palace, I was given another fine chance to take a stroll in the palace itself to understand more about the history of the site.

deoksugung daehan gate
Daehan Mun Gate. 대한문.

According to various online resources (visitkorea.org, the palace booklet etc. you name it)  Deoksugung Palace was originally belonged to Wolsandaegun (1454~1488), the older brother of King Seongjong (1469~1494) of the Joseon Dynasty. It became a proper palace when Gwanghaegun (1575~1641) ascended the throne and gave the palace the name Gyeongungung in 1611. Afterwards, the name was then changed back to its original title of Deoksugung.

P5169681e1 Visitors can enjoy watching the ceremony of the changing of royal guards at 11:00, 14:00, 15:30. It takes about 10 minutes to finish the show. Personally I prefer the Gyeongbok Palace’s ceremony better as the compound is bigger over there and the result of the pictures taken there came out way nicer. P5169684e1

As Deoksugung palace is located in the middle of modern buildings, the traditional costumes and the modern background just looked like another Korean drama scene that the prince from Joseon Dynasty time travel to the future kkkkkkkkkkkk  Now you get what I mean? ^^

selca with the palace guard The royal guard ajussi that looked into my camera when I tried to take a selca! That’s funny!
peeping through the palace deoksugung palace

korean palace window pane
A Mixture of Old and New. Deoksugung Palace.

deoksugung seoul deoksugung palace

Jeonggwanheon Pavilion 정관헌 (靜觀軒). Literally the name means “Palace from which to watch the garden, silently.” — a very zen-like name. This building was renovated and re-opened in 2006. It was the first western style building built in the palace in 1900. Widely known as the King’s Lounge, it is said to be a place for the King Go Jong to enjoy coffee and snacks and hold various banquets here. Influenced by the western culture and lifestyle, Go Jong enjoyed drinking coffee and spending his leisure time here. The back of the building had secret passageways to the Russian Emissary, which still exist today. deoksu palace art gallery

Seokjojeon. Another western-style building in Deoksugung Palace. It was being built by a British man for his company but in the 1905, when the construction were still ongoing, the ownership was transferred to Japan. It was finally completed in 1910. After Go Jeong’s death, this place became a Japanese art gallery open to the public.

Overall the palace is an interesting combination of both Korean and Western features. Many of the buildings in the palace compound were designed by Russian or Europe architects hence the heavy western element in the interior despite the original Korean traditional motifs. The King’s bedroom was adorned with fine chandelier and golden curtain rod, which speaks the influences of the modernisation of the royal family at the turn of 20th century.

deoksu palace garden view

Writer’s Note: Deoksugung Palace is a relatively small royal palace compared to Changgyung Palace and the famous Gyeongbok Palace. This means the site would be relatively quiet compared to other major sites, which is a plus point for me. Do check out the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (click to find out more)  in the palace compound if you are interested. Deoksugung palace is also known as the only palace that sits alongside a series of western style buildings that add to the uniqueness of the surrounding scenery. Basically, I would recommend palace trip right after they start operating or towards the end of the day to avoid the crowds hence the best time for you to capture good pictures.

Located at the corner of Seoul’s busiest downtown intersection, the palace is also famous for its elegant stone-wall road. (덕수궁 돌담길) I will be posting about it in the next post so please check back some day next week?

deoksugung palace
Deoksugung Palace during an evening last winter.

How to Get There?
There are basically two ways to visit the palace by public transport. Two subway lines intersected at City Hall station, which made the way to Deoksugung all the more convenient. Click the map below to enlarge.

map to deoksugung

If you’re visiting via Line No. 1 ( Blue Line), just come out from exit No. 2 and Keep walking straight until you see Daehan-mun. There you are at the destination! Easy peasy.

yellow ribbon campaign sewol

If you are visiting during spring/summer 2014, you’ll definitely see these yellow ribbons tied tightly between the trees by the roadside. It is a nationwide campaign for the Sewol Ferry Disaster. If you don’t see these yellow ribbon, the campaign must have ended before your visit. Then try to locate the Seoul Plaza or Seoul City Hall opposite from where you are. If you can see them from across the road, you are on the correct track.

city hall seoul

If you are visiting via Line No.2 (Green Line), please come out from the exit No. 12 and walk straight. You’ll see Daehan-mun down 1 block. ; )  Please refer to the map above if you need further guides.

Operating Hours: *** Closed every Monday. ***
09:00 – 21:00 (Ticketing 09:00 – 20:00)
Adult: KRW 1,000 per entry. Group Adult (10 pax and above) KRW 800 each.
Kids: KRW 500 per entry. Group Kids (10 pax and above) KRW 400 each.
** Junghwajeon Hall is open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from 09:00 to 16:00

All-Inclusive Tickets: (KRW10,000) 
Recommend to people who resides in Seoul or having a long-term trip.
This all-inclusive ticket includes: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace (Rear Garden included), Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, and Jongmyo Shrine by buying one all-inclusive ticket. May be used within a month after purchase.

Time Schedule for Changing of Royal Guards Ceremony:
Ceremony Schedule: 11:00, 14:00, 15:30 (Closed on Mondays)
Ceremony Course:
Daehanmun Gate at Deoksugung Palace → Seoul Plaza → Cheonggye Plaza → Gwangtonggyo Bridge → Bosingak Bell ** Bosingak Bell Ringing Ceremony takes place at noon.


With this post, I am pleased to announce that I am now an honorary ambassador with the Korean Tourism Organisation. As part of the program, I will be travelling around Korea and bring you exciting updates on social media about cool places and good eateries that are not to be missed. This also means you’ll see active updates on the blog, my instagram (click here to follow if you haven’t) and my Facebook page.

Sounds exciting enough, no? Please join me throughout the journey! ^^ 많이 많이 읽어 주시고 사랑해 주시길 바랍니당~



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