Changdeok Palace, which was designated as a world heritage site in 1997, was built in 1405 during the reign of Chosun Dynasty King Taejong. The king, who ascended to the throne in Kaesong, had a weak support base. To bolster hit, he sought to move the capital from Kaesong to Hanyang, or modern-day Seoul. He also ordered a new palace to be built east of Gyeongbok Palace, which was the main palace at the time, apparently because of the trials and tribulations he underwent at Gyeongbok Palace. Although Changdeok Palace was considered more of a retreat, Taejong spent most of his time there.
The Hofburg in Vienna was the main palace of the Hapsburg Dynasty, but the Hapsburgs built Schonbrunn nearby, equipped with more than 1,400 rooms, as a summer retreat. The aim was to have a cool place to stay during the hot summer months. Wealthy Koreans these days apparently spend the cold winter months in luxury apartments in the affluent Gangnam area south of the Han River and move back to their mansions in Seongbuk-dong area north of the river during the spring and summer.
Indian business magnate Mukesh Ambani, ranked as the world's fourth-richest person by Forbes magazine, lives in the world's most expensive home. The US$1 billion home is 27 stories high, 173 m tall and measures 37,000 sq. m, about the size of five football fields. It contains a marble-and-gold ballroom, a 50-seater movie theater and nine elevators. Ambani apparently built it because his old house was "too small."
North Korea is spending about US$150 million on new offices and villas for Kim Jong-un, the country's heir-apparent, according to the Telegraph. Located in Wonsan on the east coast of North Korea, the villa, called "Songdowon," is being refurbished to resemble North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's summer villa in Hamhung, which has a basement with underwater views of the ocean. Kenji Fujimoto, who used to be Kim Jong-il's chef, said the North Korean leader spends only about two months out of the year in Pyongyang to keep his whereabouts secret.
Former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung was said to have run for life and hide in mines several times during an operations meeting due to U.S. air raids during the Korean War. There are accounts that Kim Jong-il spent nine days in a bunker during joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises late last year because he was scared of an attack by American F-22 Raptor stealth fighters. It appears such fears run in the Kim dynasty, which is indifferent to the sufferings of North Koreans.
By Chosun Ilbo columnist Cho Jung-hoon