The structure was first built by King Taejo during his fifth year of reign (1398). It was renovated in 1453, and the current structure is the one rebuilt in 1869.
In August 2011, the roof of the gate was partially damaged by record rainfall. The rain-inflicted damage includes chipped roof's ridge. An official of the Cultural Heritage Administration stated that "The aged gate underwent repairs in 1998 and seems to have become soaked in heavy rains".
Today, the area around Dongdaemun known as Dongdaemun Market includes upmarket shopping districts as well as several underground shops, stalls and markets that are open for much of the day and night. It has grown into the largest shopping center in South Korea. Popular to both foreigners and natives, many shops around the area are available for bargain. Additionally, there are many food stalls around the area which houses many popular Korean snacks. In 2007, the City of Seoul started Dongdaemun Design Project (DDP), to renovate what used to be Dongdaemun Stadium (an amateur baseball park). With world-famous architect Zaha Hadid's design, when completed this structure is expected to be one of the most notable landmarks in downtown Seoul. Heunginjimun shows architectural style of the late Joseon period. The most unusual characteristic is its built outer wall, Ongseong. Ongseong was constructed to compensate the weakness of the target from multiple invaders. It protects the gate and is a beautiful addition.