Monday, February 9, 2009

Gyeongbok Palace Revisit

All the way back in June 2008 BK and I went to Gwanghwamun and had a look at Gyeongbok Palace, but we didn't go past the first part. To do so you have to buy tickets and also need time.

Seven months later BK took me back to Gyeongbok palace and bought us tickets so we can see the interior.

When we arrived there was a ceremony occurring, for it was the changing of the guard. We didn't stay for the whole of it and so just caught the beginning.

When I was in Japan I made a mental note of the stylistic differences I saw between Korean traditional structures and Japan's.

The most noticeable difference is that Korea's structures are more colorful and ornate. The Japanese seemed to keep their traditional structures more simplified, less colorful and not as ornate.

I think for these reasons alone that I appreciate traditional Korean architecture.
Of course though looking at these structures there is more than meets the eye. I am talking about the historical significance of this site.

In 1911, the government of Japan demolished all but 10 buildings during the period of Japanese occupation, constructing the Japanese General Government Building for the Governor-General of Korea in front of the throne hall.

After you walk through the main gate you see this majestic structure.
Called: Keunjeong-jeon, the royal throne hall is Korea's largest surviving wooden structure.
I couldn't help but feel like I was walking through the steps of history. My imagination was flowing as I thought of all the dignitaries who walked this path before. Do you see those stone tablets along the path? They are meant to demarcate a person's rank, and how close they can stand towards the palace. Cool huh?

Throne room:
BK has a peek inside the building~
Other structures near the main hall.
After you go pass the main hall you come to an exit out of a wall. This leads you to the outer gardens and towards other structures within the compound.
As you walk further on you encounter a lake with a bridge. This is the Hyangwon-jeong area, known for a hexagonal building in the middle of the lake. Oops didn't get a picture of that.
Further inward you come to another palace grounds compound. This area has been recently restored and open to the public for a period of time.

As present , the courts of Heungnye-mun Gate, the East Palace, and Taewon-jeon Hall are under full restoration

The Cultural Heritage Administration plans to open to the public five restricted areas at royal palaces in Seoul. Taewonjeon and Geoncheon-gung of Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace),

It is also the site where the Empress was murdered.
Unveiling the past: The restored Geoncheonggung Residence in Gyeongbok Palace, northern Seoul, opened its doors Thursday, for the first time in 98 years. This was once the private quarters of the last emperor and empress of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), and where Japanese assassins murdered Empress Myeonseong. Men armed with traditional Joseon military gear open the gates in an inaugural ceremony Thursday.

So if you are in Korea I would suggest taking a look at this new restored section and feeling some history lurking about. Besides I think it is a good idea to visit historical sites during different seasons.

BK and I enjoyed seeing the sites, except for one part where an Ahjussi nearly ran me over. Otherwise it was a great way to spend the day together and forget about whatever it was that was troubling us.

After visiting the palace grounds we walked over to Samcheong-dong, and caught a bit of Italian food for dinner.
I hope to come back to the palace during the blooming parts of spring, so to get another look and feel for the compound.

All in all, it was just good to finally see a complete historical area of Korea. Thanks for taking me BK~


  1. Wait, you arrived for the beginning of the changing of the guard and did not stay to watch it? Had you seen it before?

  2. I know, I know... but BK said to move on so I did.

  3. It is worth seeing. Maybe you can go see it alone or with someone more patient one day... ㅠㅠ


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