Taerung, The Beautiful Royal Tomb of a Queen Among Queens

Taerung might be an unfamiliar word to foreigners, and even those who have heard of it might only know it as “TaeRyung Sports Village,” where South Korea’s national athletes train. However, Taerung is one of the most unique royal tombs in the Joseon Dynasty, boasting the most beautiful and peaceful walking trails among all royal tombs in Korea. While places like Myeongdong, Gwanghwamun, Gyeongbokgung, and Deoksugung are well-known tourist destinations, visiting Taerung, which is not commonly frequented, is a great idea. What’s more, it’s easily accessible by Seoul’s subway system, making it a highly recommended destination for foreigners as well.

Taerung: The Royal Tomb of Queen Among Queens, Queen Munjeong

The uniqueness of Taerung lies in the fact that it’s not a king’s tomb but rather the resting place of Queen Munjeong, who held even greater influence than the king during the Joseon Dynasty. After her husband, King Jungjong, passed away, Queen Munjeong exercised significant power for over two decades as a regent while her young son, King Myeongjong, ascended to the throne. Although she wasn’t known for her political prowess, it’s typical for a country to face instability under the rule of such a queen, reminiscent of the history of Queen Dowager Seo of the Qing Dynasty.

Explaining the entire history of the Joseon Dynasty would be quite extensive. For tourists visiting Taerung, what’s crucial to know is that due to Queen Munjeong’s extraordinary authority surpassing that of the king, her tomb is grander and more imposing than those of typical kings. To put it into perspective, it’s not just the largest among the royal tombs near Seoul; it’s more than twice the size of her own son Myeongjong’s tomb. This reflects the power she wielded during her lifetime. Hence, Taerung provides a unique and serene walking space in the forest, where tourists can appreciate the architectural beauty of the Joseon era.

Taerung: The Royal Tomb of Queen Among Queens, Queen Munjeong

Getting to Taegeung is very easy.

You can easily visit Taegeung by taking the Seoul subway. I’ll provide directions based on finding your way from Myeongdong Station, a must-visit when you’re in Seoul.

  1. Take Line 4 at Myeongdong Station and head to Nowon Station. (Approximately 30 minutes)
  2. At Nowon Station, transfer to Line 7, and get off at Taegeung-iryeok Station. (Approximately 8 minutes)

Once you arrive at Taegeung-iryeok Station, exit from Exit 6, and walk straight in the direction you come out. The path from Taegeung-iryeok Station to Taegeung itself is a famous walking trail in Seoul. Think of it as the start of your Taegeung tour. It takes about 20 minutes to walk to Taegeung, and you can enjoy the beautiful tree-lined scenery as you walk until you reach Taegeung.

Getting to Taegeung is very easy.

Experience the Forest Ambiance While Walking

Taerung is inherently serene, and that’s its most significant allure. Even when there are many visitors, this tranquil atmosphere remains undisturbed. It’s as though you can feel the authority of Queen Munjeong’s reign wafting through the forest. The quiet ambiance soothes the soul and allows you to appreciate various contemplations you might not have had time for in your daily life. Therefore, I recommend taking your time to observe the scenery and reflect on thoughts or concerns you’ve put off due to a busy schedule. Listening to the whispers of Taerung, you might find that it helps ease those unaddressed thoughts and lingering worries.

Strike an Elegant Pose Like Royalty at the Stone Path

As you leisurely stroll through the forest, you’ll come across the stone path leading to the queen’s tomb, known as ‘hyanglo.’ Emerging from this hyanglo is a magnificent stone pathway, which represents the essence of Joseon architecture. Here, you can walk with elegance if you’re a woman, or with regal poise if you’re a man. You’ll have the chance to experience the feeling of the Joseon royal family as they processed during ceremonies.

Hyanglo features beautiful lawns on both sides and offers a wide-open view, with the Taerung tomb in the background, making it an ideal spot for photography. Start by zooming out from the end of hyanglo, and you’ll capture a stunning shot with the Taerung landscape softly fading in the background, allowing you to take center stage. I strongly recommend taking a photo at this pathway.

As you leisurely stroll through the forest, you'll come across the stone path leading to the queen's tomb, known as 'hyanglo.

The Royal Tomb of the Queen – Taerung

At Taerung, you’ll find yourself perched on top, with a panoramic view of all the Taerung tombs laid out below. Unfortunately, entering the tomb area is restricted to preserve cultural heritage. However, right in front of Taerung, you’ll encounter the beautiful ‘Jeongjagak,’ a sacred ceremonial hall where rituals used to be performed, creating an atmosphere of sanctity.

While you can’t ascend the tomb itself, you can still appreciate the ambience by climbing the stone steps in front of Jeongjagak.

The Royal Tomb of the Queen – Taerung