Let’s go hiking in Inwangsan!

Have you watched the recently aired Korean TV drama, “Queen for Seven Days” (7일의 왕비)?  This drama is about the sad love story of King Jungjong and his wife, Queen Dangyeong (who was deposed after being crowned as the queen for 7 days only) of the Joseon Dynasty.  Do you know Inwangsan (인왕산), one of the well-known mountains in South Korea, is also related to this sad love story?  Let’s talk about this famous mountain in this blog post.

As for the name of the mountain, “Inwang” (인왕) means “benevolent king” and “san” (산) means “mountain”.  Inwangsan is about 338 meters high and is a rocky mountain with many uniquely shaped rocks like Gicha Bawi (기차바위 – “train rock”), Moja Bawi (모자바위 – “hat rock”), and Chima Bawi (치마바위 – “skirt rock”).  The “skirt rock” (Chima Bawi) is related to the sad love story of King Jungjong and Queen Dangyeong.  It is said that after the queen was deposed, she lived at the foot of Inwangsan. After the deposed queen learned that King Jungjong missed her very much and looked in the direction of her house in Inwangsan every day, she hanged a red skirt that she used to wear on a rock in response.  That rock is now known as the “skirt rock”.  Apart from these uniquely shaped rocks, people can also enjoy beautiful views of Seoul from Inwangsan.  That’s why Inwangsan is a favourite hiking place of the Koreans.  That said, given the rocky nature of this mountain, it is not an easy hiking spot.

As Inwangsan is a beautiful mountain, it is also the subject of Korean traditional landscape paintings.  The most famous painting should be the Inwangjesaekdo (인왕제색도 – “Clearing after rain in Inwangsan”) painted by Jeong Seon of Joseon Dynasty in 1751, which was designated as one of the national treasures of Korea in 1984.  If you want to see this painting in person, you can go to the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul.

On the other hand, Inwangsan holds an important place in Korean history.  When King Taejo founded the Joseon Dynasty, the site for Gyeongbok Palace was chosen because it was protected by the surrounding mountains, one of them is Inwangsan.  So, Inwangsan is important to the Joseon Dynasty in terms of feng shui.  However, in 1968, some North Korean agents made their way along Inwangsan and Bugaksan and nearly reaching the Blue House (the presidential residence) in their abortive attempt to assassinate the then President Park Chung Hee.  So, Park’s military government banned civilians from entering Inwangsan and this restriction was only uplifted in February 1993.

You can learn more about Inwangsan and enjoy its beautiful scenery by watching this video. Happy hiking! 🙂

Reminder: You can follow my blog by clicking the “Follow” button on the sidebar to receive email notifications of new posts.  For flash news on Korean culture, you can also follow me on Twitter (Kalbi8888).


Son Min-ho, “A historic trek around Mount Inwang“, Korea JoongAng Daily, 24 June 2004


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