Thursday, December 12, 2013

Autumn in Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace

My friends associate the Gyeongbukgong Palace with the Korean novela, Princess Hours. I don't remember having watched it but I can understand how this was chosen as the setting. 

It is magnificent. It is grand. In a modern city like Seoul, one would wonder how significant the place is given the scale of its size right in the middle of a metropolitan city. 

Historically, it holds much significance. In 1935, three years after the founding of the Joseon Dynasty by King Taejo (Yi Seong-gye), the new main palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace was completed after the capital of the new dynasty was moved from Gaeygeong to Seoul (then known as Hanyang). The palace was destroyed by fire during the Japanese envasion of 1592 and was not reconstructed until 1887, the fifth year of King Gojong. During the Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945, most of the palace was torn down; only a few buildings including Gyeonghoeru Pavilion and Geungjeongjeon Hall were left standing. An effort to fully restore Gyeongbokgung Palace to its former glory has been ongoing since 1990. The Japanese Government General building was removed, making way for the full restoration of Heungnyemun Gate at its original state. The royal quarters and the crown prince's quarters were also restored their original state. In 2010, restoration of Gwanghwamun Gate, the main entrance to the palace, was completed. (Source: Gyeongbokgung Palace ticket)

So, there it goes.  The Gyeongbokgung Palace is the grandest of all five palaces to be found in Seoul. No wonder it is teeming with tourists.

And then, we witnessed the changing of the guards. Quite a ceremony. 

Forgive the hair. It was really windy!

As I said, the place is massive.

This gate led to such a beautiful lake, it makes you suddenly yearn for romance. 


Here's a close up. The devil is in the detail.

You need to buy a ticket to get into the inner grounds of the palace.
The tour will take you about about 2-3 hours of walking and gawking at the immensity of the place. The architecture is awesome. 

You can also feel like a royal for a few minutes. You can don the hanbok in one of the houses. This we skipped because I was already a princess the day before when we were at the Namsan Park. Ha ha ha. 

While we were enjoying the scenery and the weather around the palace, thoughts were swirling in my head -- it's awesome to be a member of a royal family but it can also be daunting. And then, I remember all those scenes in Korean telenovela's where the prince or princess gets away from the palace to meet with a girlfriend who's not of a royal blood. I realized that indeed it's possible. The palace ground is so huge, anyone stealth enough could slip from the royal guards. 

And here they are standing guard... albeit only ceremoniously. 

Thank you, Seoul for a royal experience. Anyeong haseo!



No comments:

Post a Comment