The Korea Herald


Somber palaces, tombs swathed in fall colors

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : Nov. 1, 2023 - 13:26

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Aerial view of Changdeokgung garden in the fall season (CHA) Aerial view of Changdeokgung garden in the fall season (CHA)

Now is a perfect time to visit royal palaces and tombs as several trails and tombs normally closed to the public are open for a few weeks in autumn when leaves change colors.

While the peak foliage season varies from year to year and in different locations, this year, the leaves are expected to be at their most colorful and vibrant through early November.

The eight forest trails of the Joseon royal tombs, including some that are usually closed to the public, which opened on Sept. 28, will remain open until Nov. 30, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration's Royal Palaces and Tombs Center.

The royal tombs where forest trails are open for the season include Donggureung in Guri, Gyeonggi Province; Gwangneung and Sareung in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province; Taereung and Gangneung in northern Seoul; Samneung and Jangneung in Paju, Gyeonggi Province; Yungneung and Geolleung in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province and Yeongneung in Yeoju.

The total length of all eight forest trails measures 16.82 kilometers. The trails are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

At Donggureung, a nature learning center gives families and children an opportunity to observe the flowers and the wetland plants of the region.

In northern Seoul, a 1.8-kilometer path starts from Gangneung, the royal tombs of Joseon King Myeongjong and Queen Consort Insun, and leads to Taereung.

Walking trail in Taereung, Nowon-gu, northern Seoul (CHA) Walking trail in Taereung, Nowon-gu, northern Seoul (CHA)

Another event is the silver grass viewing of Donggureung in Guri, Gyeonggi Province, during which a royal tombs expert will share some of the less well-known stories of King Taejo (1335-1408), the founder of Joseon, and other Joseon kings. Visitors can view the Geonwonneung, a silver grass-covered mound of Taejo, which is accessible to the public for a limited period in autumn when the grass is at its most splendid.

This is the only royal tomb of Joseon that is covered with silver grass. Historical records state that the mound was covered with silver grass in accordance with Taejo's will. The king ordered silver grass to be brought from Hamheung, in today's North Korea, his hometown, to cover his mound.

Geongwonneung is open to the public until Sunday.

A royal court dance performance is scheduled to be held at Seoul's Changgyeonggung, every Saturday until Nov. 11. The performance on Saturday will run from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and on Nov. 11, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Trail of Samneung in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province (CHA) Trail of Samneung in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province (CHA)

Additionally, the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation is preparing to live stream walks along royal tombs' forest trails for those who cannot visit in person.

Through online public voting, the foundation has selected Taereung and Gangneung in Seoul, Gwangneung in Namyangju and Seooreung in Goyang, both in Gyeonggi Province, for live-streaming.

The livestreamings are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Monday, The livestreaming can be viewed on the foundation's YouTube channel, Korean Heritage.