Monday, 8 April 2013

Gyeongbokgung Palace: Part 2

Click here to read Part 1 of this post if you haven't already.

Though we didn't enter the actual folk museum, we enjoyed exploring its open air attractions, which included this mock 1950s Korean town.

A barbershop.
A shop selling manhwa, the Korean equivalent of manga or comic books.
A traditional Korean school classroom with a map of Korea showing North and South unseparated.

Just near the folk museum was a small plaza where families played traditional Korean games together. I tried practicing jegichagi, which is essentially "kick-ups" with a jegi (a shuttlecock-esque fluffy thing). 
Soon we re-entered the beautiful grounds of the main palace. 

One of our favourite spots was Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, a hall originally used to hold special state banquets. 
Imagine how peaceful this place must have been back when it was reserved only for royal dignitaries and not thousands of camera-weilding tourists like us!
Some royal ingeo or Korean carp.
Wandering one of the more open-spaced parts of the palace.

Another beautiful spot we found was Hyangwonjeong Pavilion. Its name means "Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance." 

Watching ducks paddle in the algae-soaked moats of the palace.
Geoncheonggung Residence, a private space built for King Gojong in the 1800s.
More pretty views of Hyangwonjeong Pavilion. 

We left right at closing time, when the palace had all but emptied of tourists. For a brief moment we got to explore the grounds of a seemingly abandoned, ancient city.

Back at the throne room, Geunjeongjeon.
Heading back into the modern cityscape of Seoul.
One last look at the palace walls, with the National Folk Museum on the right.
I have to be honest; I wasn't expecting much from Gyeongbokgung Palace before I visited. I'd already seen Beijing's Forbidden City a few years ago and this looked like a somewhat lesser, blander version of that. However, the scale of the palace grounds, not to mention the variety of structures, architectural styles and attractions within its walls made me fall in love with the place. Angela and I are planning to revisit it several times later this year, especially as the entrance fee is a meagre 3000 won (around 3 dollars). Can't wait to spend some balmy, summer afternoons lazing around by the lakeside pavilion while reading a book or writing Joseon-inspired poetry.

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