One month after Goyong became king (December 13, 1863), the Queen Grandmother ordered the construction of a new building and the extension of the existing Unhyeonggung. Nine months later (September 1864) Norakdong and Noandang were completed. The Queen Grandmother then ordered Hojo to send 10 seom of rice and 100 nyang (currency unit) every month and she also gave 17,830 nyang for the extension of Unhyeongung.

When Unhyeonggun was completed, Gojong accompanied the Queen Grandmother and the Queen Mother to participate in the completion ceremony. Gojong provided an opportunity for Confucian scholars and youth to take a special national examination and become a government official. 50 Confucian scholars and 497 young talents were appointed to celebrate the completion of Unhyeonggung.  

The original location of Unhyeonggung, Heungseongun’s private house, was midway between Changdeokgung and Kyeongbokgung. Now, the current Unhyeonggung and Duksung Women’s University occupy this location. After extension of this palace, at its largest it had hundred meter long walls and four grandiose gates covering the area of Duksung Women’s University, the former TBC Broadcasting Station, the Japanese Cultural Center, Gyodong Elementary School and Samhwa Company.  .

The signature buildings of Unhyeonggung are Norakdang and Noandang, completed in the first November of Gojong (1864) and Irodang, completed six years later. While only one gate is left, there were once four gates in this palace.  


Norakdang is the central building of Unhyeonggung. This building was used for family feasts or birthday parties. This building is as magnificent and grandiose as other palace buildings. Historically, King Gojong, who participated in the completion ceremony of Unjyeonggung, ordered Daejehak Kim Byeonghak to write a story about this building called 'Norakdanggi (老樂堂記).' Kim Byeonghak wrote that the distance between Norakdang and Heaven is only a few inches. Despite the exaggerated sentiment, the tale suggests that there was nothing to match the power of Heungseongun at the time.


Just how powerful was Daewongu and how is this shown via Unhyeonggung? On March 21, 1866, the third year of Gojong, the wedding between King Gojong and Queen Myeongseong was performed here. All preparations for the royal wedding took place in Norakdong. The royal wedding accommodated 1,641 secretaries and 700 horses, indicating the size of Unhyeongung at the time.

Noandang housed the exiled Daewongun. After his release from being kidnapped by the Qing Dynasty during Imogunran, a military coup, he was exiled or hidden here under Min’s, his daughter in-law’s, rule. He died in the small room located behind Noandang. Noandang is a typical Korean tile-roofed house. It has delicate, beautiful angled rafters. The ridge door of Noandang, discovered on May 27, 1997 during renovation, indicates the origin of the name of this building, along with the title and political position of Daewongun. According to this record, the title of Daewongu was “hapha”, the highest position after 'Jeonha (殿下)', referring to a king and his position, head of all government positions. The name Noandang came from the Confucian passage: 'Noja rests peacefully here'. This passage suggests how powerful Daewongu was when Norakdang and Noandang were built.

Another architectural feature that symbolizes the absolute power of Unhyeonggun is the four gates. The four gates of Unhyeonggung were called Jeongmun (the front gate), Humun (back gate), Kyeonggeunmun (one side gate), and Gonggeunmun (the other side gate). Currently, only Humun remains. Gyeonggeunmun, located between Changdeukgung and Unhyeonggung, was used for King Gojong to enter Unhyeonggung. When King Gojong became king at the age of twelve, Kyeonggeunmun and Gonggeunmun were built for this convenience, financed by the royal family. King Gojong gave Hojopanseo Lee Donyeong a promotion to compliment his efforts in construction. Gonggeunmun was a gate exclusively for Daewongun when he frequented the palace. Both Daewongun and Kyeonggeunnum were destroyed, with the foundations left at the site next to the Japanese Cultural Center.