Arts & Living
Jeongneung Royal Tomb
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President of The Seoul Times
Queen Hyeonbi— her title during her life alongside her royal husband—was Taejo’s second wife. She bore him heirs, and because of her favored position she stood a good change of ensuring that one of her sons should inherit the crown, since the rule of primogeniture was not established. Had she succeeded, she might have looked forward to a comfortable old age as the dowager queen after her husband’s death, since it was normal for women to outlive their men.
But it was not to be. She predeceased the king by two years and in his grief he gave her the title of Sindeok and set up a burial sitewhich he named Jeongneung, close to his palace, on a piece of land now occupied by the British Embassy, where he planned to be buried beside her. However his first wife, Sinui, now saw the chance to promote her own interests and those of her son, number five.
For two and a half centuries, the tomb lay neglected and unnamed until in the reign of King Hyeonjong it was restored and recognized again with royal status, with the retained name of Jeongneung.
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Alan Timblick serves as President of The Seoul Times. He grew up in England, graduated from Oxford University, and has lived in Seoul for over three decades. A former banker, he also worked for the Korean government as head of Invest Korea and for Seoul City as head of the Seoul Global Center.
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