Monday, November 2, 2009

A Tiny Bit of Korean History

Gyeongbokgung 경븍궁

I decided it was about time to get out of the concrete jungle and check out some of Korea's history. So I braved the subway and all of its Ajummas and headed to Gyeongbokgung. The subway was actually pretty entertaining. For one I finally go to watch Glee, which I am not addicted to. For another I got to people watch. There was a mom and 3 kids that sat down next to me for a few stops. They had their little dog in a dog bag. The kids started eating oreo like cookies and the boy got some on his sleeve. It was pretty hilarious watching the dog try to eat it off his sleeve. The dog was trying it's best to get out of the bag. Naturally for a normal person I laughed. Nobody laughs in the subway unless you are an annoying teenager or an Ajeoshi drunk off soju. After that the sister tried talking to me, unfortunately in Korean. The kids were really cute though and said bye when they got off. The mother of course avoided any interaction. Thankfully there are cute kids in Korea. Anyways.....

Gyeongbokgung is the oldest palace from the Joseon Dynasty. It is considered the most beautiful out of 5. It was built in 1394, but much of it was damaged by the Japanese. I read somewhere that only 40% of it has been restored. If that is true, it must have been truly impressive.

When I first got off the subway at the palace I ran into a performing arts festival. The palace is literally right off the subway, similar to the colliseum in Rome. This particular dance is the Daegu Nalmoe Drum Dance.

This was part of a sword dance. At least that was according to the sign in english.

Surprisingly it was mostly Koreans at the palace and show. I did run into a few Korean Americans that didn't speak korean though. That always throws me off. The performance took place in front of what I understand to be Gwanghwamun Gate.

Inside the palace walls.
Geunjeongjeon 근정전
the main hall used by the king. His throne is very ornate, but there were hoards of Koreans at the door which means don't bother :)
This is opposite of Geunjeongjeon- maybe this is the gate, I'm not sure to be honest. There weren't many signs up and I would suggest a tour.

These are closeups of inside Geunjeongjeon- the throne hall.
Lion/Dragon on bridge to Geunjeongjeon
I think this may have been the housing and living area of the king. I will update once I do some research.

I loved this building! Gyeonghoeru (Pavillion) This is a two story open pavillion where the king held his banquets. I imagine that would be a pretty amazing setting on the water with the mountains in the background. I think I read that originally, before it was burned down, one had to reach it by boat.
Here there's a brige.

Hyangwonjeong Pavillion in the pond. A beautiful building and interesting contrast of old and new Korea.
The fall colors were beautiful and these photos don't really do it justice.

I think this area is the Amisan Garden where the Queen lived.

The National Folk Museum

Residential Area
Korean houses had and have ondol heating. Which is radiant heating (heat rises from the floor). People slept on mats on the floor instead of beds. I think there are some people that still do that, since I've seen it on modern K-drama.

Bridge to Hyangwonjeong pavillion.
View looking towards the National Folk Museum.

Wonderful day, a bit cold. However it was nice to learn a little history and take some photographs.

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