Travel to Korea to See a Great Cool King Named Sejong and his Tomb

by Guest Post on April 17, 2012

in Travel Ideas

Most people would think of Leonardo Da Vinci or Michelangelo when the phrase “Renaissance Man” is mentioned. What most people don’t know is that Asia had one during the 15th century in the country of South Korea. This Renaissance man is none other than King Sejong the Great.

What made him so great? Well, aside from the fact he was ruler of Korea during that time, he was also a scientist, an astronomer, a brilliant military strategist, writer, linguist (he actually invented the modern day Korean alphabet called Hanguel).

He reigned as King until his death in an early age of 53 but his kingdom flourished during that time and most consider it as one of the “Golden Ages in Korean history”. After dying from complications of diabetes, his remains were entombed in a grand resting place located in the Yeoju county in the Gyeonggido Province. King Sejong’s tomb is about two hours southeast of Seoul. Not only does Yeoju house the tomb of King Sejong but also of another King and 8 queens from the Choson dynasty.

Rain Gauge (Photo by Christer De Silva)

Rain Gauge (Photo by Christer De Silva)

The tomb is a huge expanse of park and verdant land that also contains a museum with statues and replicas of scientific instruments laid out near the entrance. You can see his inventions like rain gauge, sundials, water clocks, etc. There are hundreds of flowering plants, tall shady trees and even cherry blossom trees. There’s a koi pond with two stone dragons feeding water to it and one can buy a cup of goldfish food (a $1 per cup) to feed the hungry koi.

The Red Gate (Photo by Christer De Silva)

The Red Gate (Photo by Christer De Silva)

After walking for a bit, visitors can come up to a huge towering red gate called the “Hongsalmun”. This red gate marks the sacred path leading up the huge grass covered mound where the king is now buried. Most visitors who enter the gate become quiet and respectful, and usually walk on the sides of the cobblestone path. This is because the middle of the paved road is raised and reserved for the gods. Lesser beings like us walk on the sides where priests and royal court members would walk to pay their respects to the resting monarch.

Sacred Path to the Tomb (Photo by Christer De Silva)

Sacred Path to the Tomb (Photo by Christer De Silva)

While walking this winding path, one can see neat manicured lawns and immaculately trimmed shrubs and greenery. The tomb’s staff and gardeners make sure that everything is swept, trimmed and arranged neatly and nicely. They even suggest that the best time to visit the tomb would be during the Spring season (when the cherry blossoms start to bloom) and during Autumn (when there’s a riot of colors on the trees and leaves).

At the end of the path is a huge mound that looks like an overturned bowl covered in grass. This is not the actual tomb of the king. King Sejong is buried on top of this mound in a smaller mound at the very top of the grassy bowl-shaped hill. There are stone steps to take if you want to see the tomb, be careful. The hike up is steep and during the rainy days, a bit slippery. There on top you can see the small grassy grave where the King is entombed. Around the tomb are stone figures of priests, royal officials and even animals. These are said to be the eternal guards of the king.

King Sejong (Photo by Christer De Silva)

King Sejong (Photo by Christer De Silva)

Most visitors would light an incense stick into the holder at the bottom of the hill where there is a small temple shrine. This is to honor Korea’s most beloved king while he rests way up in the hill above his people. This not only honors this great Renaissance man but also said to contain his chi and prevent it from escaping.

Find It!

If you are looking to visit this great Korean king, just drive down to Yeoju city (about an hour’s travel from Seoul, Korea). There also buses going to the Yeoju, the bus terminal to take them are in Gangbyeon Bus Terminal with buses leaving on the dot every hour. Learn more on Visit Korea.

Doddie HouseholderDoddie Householder was born in the hot tropics of the Philippines, in a tiny city which used to be the center of the Spanish Galleon trade in the 17th century called Cavite. She used to be a Marketing Manager in the jungles of Makati, but now living the expat life in South Korea as a mom, homemaker, contributing writer & columnist (to an expat newspaper in the Middle East), pastor’s wife and professional shopper. Her husband is American and hails from Kentucky and they have two sons, Billy and Jai, ages 11 and 17. Visit Doddie on her blog: A Box of Jalapeños (Part 2)

Ryan Hoody April 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm

What a refreshing post!

We learn so much about Western culture, from the Roman era through modern day, that we ignore the older, and in many ways more advanced, Eastern culture. The King sounds like a true revolutionary, and I would never have imagined he influenced modern day S. Kora to such an extent. Great post shedding refreshing light on Eastern culture.



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