OWL Magazine Korea

Jang Hee-bin Well Site in Seoul’s Yeonhui-dong

In Seoul’s Yeonhui-dong, there is a well site known through oral tradition as “Jang Hee-bin Well.” If you head northwest from Yeonhui Intersection, you’ll find this place, which is known as the “Jang Hee-bin Well Site.”

“Jang Hee-bin Well Site Passed Down Through Oral Tradition”

The area of the Jang Hee-bin Well Site was historically known as the courtyard in front of Yeonhui Palace. It was referred to by various names including Gungdong, Gungmal, Daegwalljae, and Jang Hee-bin Well. Additionally, it’s said that the large Zelkova tree in front of the village was likened to a pavilion, and thus it was also called Jeongja-mal, Jeongjat-mal, or Jeongjadong.

Beneath the nearby Gungdong Neighborhood Park, there was an old house known as the ancestral home of Jang Hee-bin, who received affection from King Sukjong in the late Joseon period. To the east of it, there was a well known to have been used by Jang Hee-bin, and next to it, there was an approximately 500-year-old Zelkova tree. However, currently, only the well site remains, guarding its spot.

“The Origin of Jang Hee-bin Well”

The Jang Hee-bin Well Site area has been known by the name of Jang Hee-bin Well since the early Joseon Dynasty, from the reign of King Taejong (1400) to King Sukjong (1674-1720). The first Yeonhui Palace was established in August of the 7th year of King Sejong’s reign (1425), and it gained its name as Yeonhui Palace. Within the palace, there were various wells in places such as Gungmal due to the presence of palace officials and court ladies.

The lineage of the well that has been preserved until today is none other than the “Jang Hee-bin Well.”

While it’s been passed down that Jang Hee-bin briefly stayed at this well during her time as a concubine at this house below Gungdong Neighborhood Park, which was the old house known as the ancestral home of Jang Hee-bin who received affection from King Sukjong, there is no solid evidence to confirm this story.

However, in Yeonhui-dong, for a long time, it has been handed down through oral tradition that “This well is where Jang Hee-bin drank water.” Due to this, it was selected for our community’s treasure hunt project and restored.

“Sukjong’s Queen and Gyeongjong’s Mother, Jang Hee-bin”

Jang Hee-bin was Sukjong’s queen and Gyeongjong’s mother. She was two years older than Sukjong and was originally known by her birth name, Jang Ok-jeong. She was the only woman in the history of the Joseon Dynasty to rise from being a court lady to becoming a queen. When she was 38 years old in the year of the Cow, she gave birth to a prince, Yun (later Gyeongjong). In January of the following year, Yun was appointed as a prince, leading to her elevation as queen.

In July of that year, Queen Inhyeon, Lady Min, was dethroned. In 1690, when Yun became the Crown Prince, she was established as queen again. However, in 1694, when Lady Min was reinstated due to illness, she was demoted to a concubine once again. Along with her older brother Jeong Hee-jae, she attempted to reinstate herself, but the plan failed.

In 1701, when Lady Min passed away due to illness, she was impeached by Seo-in, accused of murdering Lady Min along with palace officials, court ladies, and others. She was sentenced and executed. Afterward, Sukjong legally prohibited elevating a concubine to queen.

“Jang Hee-bin Well Site in Yeonhui-dong”

The Jang Hee-bin Well Site in the tranquil neighborhood of Yeonhui-dong has been well restored and preserved. However, on the day of my visit, the well cover was closed, so I couldn’t see inside.

As time has passed, Yeonhui Palace is no longer found nearby, but the well site that holds the memories of Jang Hee-bin still stands guard in its place.

“Seoul’s Yeonhui-dong, Jang Hee-bin Well Site”

  • Address: 74 Yeonhui-ro 15-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul