Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty

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Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty
Sejong tomb 1.jpg
LocationGyeonggi Province and Seoul, South Korea
BuiltJoseon Dynasty
Governing bodyCultural Heritage Administration of Korea
Criteriaiii, iv, vi
Designated2009 (33rd session)
Reference no.1319
State Party South Korea
RegionAsia and Australasia
Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty is located in South Korea
Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty
Joseon Tombs in South Korea
Korean name
Revised RomanizationJoseon Wangneung
McCune–ReischauerChosŏn Wangnŭng

The Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty refers to the 40 tombs of members of the House of Yi, which ruled Korea (at the time known as Joseon, and later as the Korean Empire) between 1392–1910. These tombs are scattered over 18 locations across the Korean Peninsula. They were built to honor and respect the ancestors and their achievements, and assert their royal authority.[1] The tombs have been registered as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. Two tombs were not included in this list as they are currently located in Kaesong, North Korea.

Structure of the Tombs[edit]

The royal tombs can be divided into three main sections:

The part around Jeongjagak[edit]

It is the meeting point between the dead and the living. The area around Hongsalmun gate is the space for the living.

The area just past the gate[edit]

This is the space between the earthly and the holy. This is the area where the spirits of the kings and queens meet their earthly worshippers. This area also contains the Jeongjagak shrine, the Subokbang, and the Suragan buildings.

The sacred ground of the grave mounds[edit]

This area also includes the wall, and the other stone structures.[2]

Other structures[edit]

Korean royal tomb structure.svg

Other structures include:[2]

  1. Gokjang – these are the five sides of walls around the grave mound that protects the sacred area.
  2. Seokho – the tiger deity which serves as the guardian of the Bongbun.
  3. Seogyang – a sheep statue which fends off the evil spirits from earth and prays for the souls of the departed.
  4. Mangjuseok – this is a pair of stone pillars erected on both sides of the mound.
  5. Bongbun – this is where the body of the king or queen lies. It is also called Neungchim or Neungsang.
  6. Nanganseok – it is the hedge-like stone which protects the Byeongpungseok.
  7. Honnyuseok – a rectangular stone erected in front of the mound which is believed to invite the soul to come out and play.
  8. Muninseok – statues of scholars placed on the left and right sides of the Jangmyeongdeung lantern.
  9. Jangmyeongdeung – a lantern which comforts and prays blessing over the soul.
  10. Seongma – a horse statue.
  11. Muinseok – statue of a soldier said to be guarding the king and is placed below the Muninseok.
  12. Yegam – it is located on the left-side corner behind the Jeongjagak and is used for burning the written prayers after a burial service.
  13. Bigak – a building which has a stone monument where the names of the king and the queen are written at the front, while at the back was written the list of the king's accomplishments.
  14. Jeongjagak – this is where memorial services are held.
  15. Chamdo – these are two stone-covered paths that leads to the Jeongjagak. The higher path is called Sindo (The Path of the Gods), while the lower path is called Eodo (The Path Of the King). Only the Eodo path can be used by visitors in accordance to Korean custom.
  16. Suragan – this is where the food for the memorial services are brought and prepared.
  17. Subokbang – this is the living quarter of the officer guarding the tomb.
  18. Baewi – this is where the king and memorial service officials knelt in honor of the deceased king. It is also called Panwi or Eobaseok.
  19. Hongsalmun – this is the gate with two red cylindrical pillars.
  20. Byeongpungseok – it is the stone which was placed underneath and around to protect the Bongbun.


The tombs are classified into two types. The kings and queens and those posthumously granted the title of king or queen, were interred in neung-type tombs. Crown princes and their wives were interred in won-type tombs.

Other members of the royal family were interred in myo-type tombs.

The royal tombs are scattered over 18 locations, with many of them located as far as 40 kilometers from Seoul. For example, the Jangneung tomb is in Yeongwol, Gangwon Province, while the Yeongneung tombs are in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province. Tombs were made for individuals as well as family groups. There are 40 neung-type and 13 won-type tombs, thus creating a total of 53 royal tombs.

Joseon-era royal tombs followed the guidelines outlined in Chinese Confucian texts, such as the Book of Rites (Li Ji) and the Rites of Zhou (Zhou Li). Many factors went into consideration when deciding the location of a tomb, such as the distance from Hanseong, the distance in relation to other royal tombs, the accessibility of the location, and Korean traditions of pungsu (geomancy). The tomb construction also took into account traditional burial rituals of Korea and the natural environment.

There now follows a list (in alphabetical order) of the individual (or clusters of) tombs. There are two more royal tombs from the Joseon Dynasty in Kaesong, North Korea, namely Jeneung (제릉) (the tomb of Queen Sinui, who was King Taejo's first wife) and Huneung (후릉) (the tombs of King Jeongjong and Queen Jeongan).[3]

Dongguneung Tomb Cluster (동구릉)[edit]


37°37′11″N 127°07′53″E / 37.61972°N 127.13139°E / 37.61972; 127.13139

This cluster of tombs represents the best sample of a group tombs from the Joseon era and represents the evolution of tomb architecture over a period of five hundred years. Seven kings and ten queens are interred in nine neung-type tombs. The most notable tomb in this group is the Geonwonneung (건원릉) for King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty. The other tombs in the cluster are Gyeongneung (경릉) (the tombs of King Heonjeong and his two wives, Queen Hyohyeon and Queen Hyojeong), Hyeneung (혜릉) (the tombs of King Gyeongjong and his first wife, Queen Danui), Hwineung (휘릉) (the tomb of Queen Jangnyeol, the second wife of King Injo), Mongneung (목릉) (the tombs of King Seonjo and his two wives, Queen Uiin and Queen Inmok), Sungneung (숭릉) (the tombs of King Hyeonjong and Queen Myeongseong), Suneung (수릉) (the tombs of Crown Prince Hyomyeong, who was posthumously honored as King Munjo, and Queen Sinjeong) and Wonneung (원릉) (the tombs of King Yeongjo and his second wife, Queen Jeongsun) and Myeongbinmyo (명빈묘) (the tomb of Royal Noble Consort Myeong of the Andong Kim clan, a concubine of King Taejong). This cluster is situated on the west bank of the Wangsukcheon Stream in the city of Guri, Gyeonggi Province.[4]

Gwangneung (광릉)[edit]


37°45′08″N 127°10′38″E / 37.75222°N 127.17722°E / 37.75222; 127.17722

Gwangneung is a pair of tombs in the city of Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province. The tombs, arranged in a V shape, contain the remains of King Sejo and his wife, Queen Jeonghui. The two tombs were built in 1468 and 1483 respectively. Gwangneung is important because changes taking place in the architecture of royal tombs are evident in its construction. Screening rocks were not installed at this tomb. Instead of an outer coffin stone, quicklime was used. Another break from tradition was that the reverential access was not built. Finally, only one T-shaped ritual shrine was built for both burial mounds. This change in tomb architecture came from the last wishes of the king and reflects a new frugal style that influenced later royal tomb construction.

Heonneung and Inneung (헌릉&인릉)[edit]

Heonneung: 37°27′58″N 127°04′59″E / 37.46611°N 127.08306°E / 37.46611; 127.08306

Inneung: 37°27′58″N 127°04′50″E / 37.46611°N 127.08056°E / 37.46611; 127.08056

These tombs are in the south of Seoul, at the bottom of the southern slope of Daemosan. Heonneung is a conjoined pair of tombs where it holds the remains of Queen Wongyeong and King Taejong, while Inneung stands alone two hundred metres to the west with the remains of King Sunjo and Queen Sunwon.

Hongneung and Yureung (홍릉&유릉)[edit]

Hongneung: 37°37′52″N 127°12′45″E / 37.63111°N 127.21250°E / 37.63111; 127.21250
Yureung: 37°37′50″N 127°12′33″E / 37.63056°N 127.20917°E / 37.63056; 127.20917
Yeongwon: 37°37′46″N 127°12′56″E / 37.62944°N 127.21556°E / 37.62944; 127.21556
The styles of these two tombs reflect the political changes Korea was experiencing during the waning days of the Joseon Dynasty. With the declaration of the Korean Empire, the style of the tombs of the last two rulers of the Joseon Dynasty, Emperor Gojong and Emperor Sunjong were designed to reflect their new status. Hongneung holds the remains of Emperor Gojong and Empress Myeongseong. Yureung tomb holds the remains of Emperor Sunjong, Empress Sunmyeonghyo and Empress Sunjeonghyo. Other notable tombs include Yeongwon (영원), the tomb of Crown Prince Yeongwang and Crown Princess Yi Bangja. The tombs are located in the city of Namyangju, just to the east of Seoul.

Jangneung (Gimpo) (김포 장릉)[edit]

37°36′47″N 126°42′40″E / 37.61306°N 126.71111°E / 37.61306; 126.71111
There are three locations with Joseon tombs named Jangneung. This particular double tomb is found in Gimpo near the border with Incheon.

Jangneung (Paju) (파주 장릉)[edit]

37°46′25″N 126°42′29″E / 37.77361°N 126.70806°E / 37.77361; 126.70806
This tomb is located in Paju, near the confluence of the Rivers Imjin and Han, where the Osusan Observatory overlooks North Korea..

Jangneung (Yeongwol) (영월 장릉)[edit]

37°11′51″N 128°27′11″E / 37.19750°N 128.45306°E / 37.19750; 128.45306
This tomb lies in the county of Yeongwol, Gangwon Province. It is the furthest from capital.

Jeongneung (정릉)[edit]

37°36′08″N 127°00′21″E / 37.60222°N 127.00583°E / 37.60222; 127.00583
Not to be confused with the more famous Jeongneung beside Seolleung or the Jeongneung area of Bukhansan, this tomb is also in Seoul, but north of the river. The tomb holds remains of Queen Sindeok, the second wife of King Taejo.

Olleung (온릉)[edit]

37°43′13″N 126°57′04″E / 37.72028°N 126.95111°E / 37.72028; 126.95111
Olleung is a tomb located in Yangju, just to the north of the Seoul Ring Expressway's Songchu exit.

Paju Samneung Cluster (파주 삼릉)[edit]

Gongneung: 37°44′45″N 126°49′48″E / 37.74583°N 126.83000°E / 37.74583; 126.83000
Sulleung: 37°44′37″N 126°50′11″E / 37.74361°N 126.83639°E / 37.74361; 126.83639
Yeongneung: 37°44′33″N 126°50′01″E / 37.74250°N 126.83361°E / 37.74250; 126.83361
This is a cluster of three tombs named Gongneung (공릉), Sulleung (술릉) and Yeongneung (영릉), in the city of Paju. Yeongneung, a pair of tombs, is not to be confused with King Sejong's tomb in Yeoju.

Sareung (사릉)[edit]

37°38′50″N 127°11′51″E / 37.64722°N 127.19750°E / 37.64722; 127.19750
This tomb is in Namyangju, 1.6 km from Geumgok Station.

Seolleung - Tomb of King Seongjong

Seolleung and Jeongneung (선릉&정릉)[edit]

Seolleung: 37°30′32″N 127°02′44″E / 37.50889°N 127.04556°E / 37.50889; 127.04556
Jeongneung: 37°30′32″N 127°03′07″E / 37.50889°N 127.05194°E / 37.50889; 127.05194
Seolleung and Jeongneung are in the south of Seoul. Jeongneung is not to be confused with its namesake on the southern slopes of Bukhansan, also in Seoul. The tombs are in a park, the entrance of which is 340 metres from Seolleung Station.

Seo-oreung Cluster (서오릉)[edit]

Changneung: 37°38′09″N 126°53′42″E / 37.63583°N 126.89500°E / 37.63583; 126.89500
Hongneung: 37°37′58″N 126°53′38″E / 37.63278°N 126.89389°E / 37.63278; 126.89389
Gyeongneung: 37°37′47″N 126°53′38″E / 37.62972°N 126.89389°E / 37.62972; 126.89389
Ingneung: 37°37′47″N 126°54′02″E / 37.62972°N 126.90056°E / 37.62972; 126.90056
Myeongneung: 37°37′31″N 126°54′04″E / 37.62528°N 126.90111°E / 37.62528; 126.90111
Daebinmyo: 37°37′49″N 126°53′32″E / 37.63028°N 126.89222°E / 37.63028; 126.89222
Sugyeongwon: 37°37′38″N 126°54′02″E / 37.62722°N 126.90056°E / 37.62722; 126.90056
Sunchangwon: 37°37′45″N 126°53′50″E / 37.62917°N 126.89722°E / 37.62917; 126.89722
This is a group of tombs in Goyang. The tombs are named Changneung (창릉) (which is a pair of tombs), Hongneung (홍릉), Gyeongneung (경릉), Ingneung (익릉) and Myeongneung (명릉) (which is a trio of tombs: one alone and another two joined as a pair). Other notable tombs here include Daebinmyo (대빈묘), Sugyeongwon (수경원) and Sunchangwon (순창원).

Seosamneung Cluster (서삼릉)[edit]

Huineung: 37°39′49″N 126°52′14″E / 37.66361°N 126.87056°E / 37.66361; 126.87056
Hyoreung: 37°39′53″N 126°51′51″E / 37.66472°N 126.86417°E / 37.66472; 126.86417
Yereung: 37°39′56″N 126°52′07″E / 37.66556°N 126.86861°E / 37.66556; 126.86861
Hoimyo: 37°39′58″N 126°51′32″E / 37.66611°N 126.85889°E / 37.66611; 126.85889
Hyochangwon: 37°39′50″N 126°52′02″E / 37.66389°N 126.86722°E / 37.66389; 126.86722
Uiryeongwon: 37°39′50″N 126°52′02″E / 37.66389°N 126.86722°E / 37.66389; 126.86722

Seosamneung tombs

The Seosamneung (lit. "Three Western Neung") tomb cluster is located in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Seoul. The name of the tombs comes from the three royal tombs' (neung) location in the western suburb of the capital. Queen Janggyeong was interred in Huineung tomb (휘릉), while Hyoreung (효릉), a joined pair of tombs, holds the remains of King Injong and his wife, Queen Inseong. King Cheoljong and Queen Cheorin are interred in Yereung (예릉), another joined pair of tombs. Fifty other tombs, most notably Hoimyo (회묘) (the tomb of Queen Jeheon), Hyochangwon (효창원) (the tombs of Crown Prince Munhyo and Royal Noble Consort Ui of the Cheongnyeong Seong clan; the son and concubine of King Jeongjo; as well as the remains of Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Miryang Park clan and Princess Yeongeon; the concubine and daughter of King Sunjo), and Uiryeongwon (의령원), holding the remains of princes, princesses, and royal concubines, are also located in this cluster. Notably, monuments in various styles built to house the royal placenta and umbilical cords, known as taesil, which had once been scattered all over Korea, have been gathered and now rest in this tomb cluster.

Taereung and Gangneung (태릉&강릉)[edit]

Taereung: 37°38′05″N 127°05′49″E / 37.63472°N 127.09694°E / 37.63472; 127.09694
Gangneung: 37°38′24″N 127°06′19″E / 37.64000°N 127.10528°E / 37.64000; 127.10528
Taereung and Gangneung are located in eastern Seoul. Gangneung is a joined pair of tombs approximately a kilometre east of Taereung.

Uireung (의릉)[edit]

37°36′13″N 127°03′25″E / 37.60361°N 127.05694°E / 37.60361; 127.05694
Uireung is a pair of tombs arranged in line. This tomb is in Seokgwan-dong, Seoul.

Yeongneung and Yeongneung (영릉&영릉)[edit]

Yeongneung (King Hyojong): 37°18′50″N 127°36′32″E / 37.31389°N 127.60889°E / 37.31389; 127.60889
Yeongneung (King Sejong): 37°18′29″N 127°36′11″E / 37.30806°N 127.60306°E / 37.30806; 127.60306


These identically-named tombs lie in the west of the city of Yeoju. Sejong the Great and his wife, Queen Soheon are within a burial mound, surrounded by statues and near a pond and memorial shrine.[5] King Hyojong’s tomb lies in line with the tomb of his wife, Queen Inseon.

Yungneung and Geolleung (융릉&건릉)[edit]

Geolleung: 37°12′50″N 126°59′17″E / 37.21389°N 126.98806°E / 37.21389; 126.98806
Yungneung: 37°12′42″N 126°59′38″E / 37.21167°N 126.99389°E / 37.21167; 126.99389


Yungneung and Geolleung, within a park in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do, house Crown Prince Sado and Princess Hyegyeong (posthumously named King Jangjo and Queen Heongyeong), and King Jeongjo and Queen Hyoui.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty - UNESCO World Heritage Centre)". UNESCO. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  2. ^ a b "A Trip to Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty : Public Gardens for the Living and the Dead in the Vicinity of Seoul". Archived from the original on 2014-02-04. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  3. ^ "Royal Tombs to Be Listed as World Heritage Site". Chosun Ilbo. 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  4. ^ Official Site of Korea Tourism Org.: The 40 Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  5. ^ Korea Tourism Organization (July 13, 2011). "Queen Soheon". Plan your trip Korea: Tour courses for international tourists. 길잡이미디어. p. 31. GGKEY:TFU8B87WQG3.

External links[edit]