Unhyeongung Palace is not, technically speaking, a palace at all, but rather a grand mansion that was originally the home of Heungseon Daewongun (1821–1898), the arch-conservative prince regent who dominated the Korean political scene for much of the late 19th century. In addition to being the Daewongun’s home and seat of power, it was also the birthplace of his son, the future King Gojong, who spent his first 12 years here. Like many of Seoul’s other palaces, time has not been kind to Unhyeongung. What you see today is only a portion of the original residence, much of which was demolished, damaged, or destroyed during the Japanese colonial period and Korean War. What remains, however, makes for an enchanting stroll in one of Korea’s most sublime examples of Joseon-era residential architecture.
Across the street from Unhyeongung Palace is the atmospheric Mingadaheon (Min’s Club) 민가다헌 (T. 02-733-2966), a renovated Korean hanok home serving excellent Korean/Western fusion cuisine.
The home, built in the 1930s by famed Korean architect Park Gil-ryong, brings to mind a Victorianera social club.
Not far from Unhyeongung are the antique and craft shops of Insa-dong.
Also across the street from Unhyeongung Palace is Cheondogyo Central Temple, an imposing Art Nouveau landmark completed in 1921. The hall serves as the main temple of Korea’s indigenous Cheondogyo religion.
Hours: 9am–6pm, closed Mondays
Admission: 700 won
T. 02-766-9090, www.unhyeongung.or.kr
(114-10 Unni-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울시 종로구 운니동 114-10)
Short walk from Anguk Station 안국역 (Line 3), Exit 4