Hamhung Royal Villa

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Hamhung Royal Villa
Chosŏn'gŭl 함흥본궁
Hancha 咸興本宮
Revised Romanization Hamheungbongung
McCune–Reischauer Hamhŭngbon'gung

Hamhung Royal Villa (Hangul: 함흥본궁, Hanja: 咸興本宮) is the National Treasure no. 107 of North Korea located in Sonamudong, Sapogu Station, Hamhung. This villa is the place where Yi Seong-gye lived before founding the Joseon Dynasty and becoming King Taejo. This villa was therefore the birthplace of the older offsprings of Taejo, among them his 2nd second son (Yi Bang-gwa, 1357–1419, later Jeongjong of Joseon, the second king) and his 5th son (Yi Bang-won, 1367–1422, later Taejong of Joseon, the third king). When king Taejo went out of power to his 2nd son, he rebuilt his residence at the site of his ancestor's land.


The founder of Joseon had lived here before he came to Hanyang to move the formal capital, Kaesong of Goryeo to the new land. After his second son succeeded the power, however, he did not stay at Hanyang, hoping to go to Hamhung.

At the time, there were several conflicts among his sons to take the throne and several faithful subjects were murdered amid the rebellions. The center of the bloody rebellion was the fifth son, almost forcing his brother to leave the throne. Angered by this incident, the founder did not encounter any envoys sent by his fifth son, Taejong of Joseon who eventually gained the power as the third king. Taejo used to kill or confine the envoys. This became the root of Korean proverb, 함흥차사 (Hamhungchasa): he came in - he never come back.

After the death of Taejo, the villa was used as the shrine to pay tribute for his family over 4 generations. The villa firstly featured royal architecture and norms, but the original structure was set on fire during Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598) and it was rebuilt in the late 17th century. Although some parts of villa were destroyed during Korean War, most parts have been restored.

The main building has 5 quarters each 15 m in length. The relics from the villa are placed in the Hamhung history museum for display.