Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Review of Gyeongbokgung

Gyeongbok Palace There are many reasons why people are drawn to Gyeongbokgung Palace. I have been hearing about Gyeongbokgung for a long time. I know that Gyeongbokgung, in Korea, is like Tiananmen in China. So I felt very glad to have the opportunity to go to Gyeongbokgung with so many friends from the Woosong Herald.

We divided into three groups to visit Gyeongbokgung. When our group visited, tourists and primary school students attentively listened to their guides, learning about the history of the palace. Also, the elderly and other local Seoul-ites experienced the quietness of the impressive environs on leisurely strolls. Gyeongbokgung offers a different experience for different people. Originally constructed in 1395 under the reign of King Taejo, the architectural plans were supervised by Korean architect Jeong Do-jeun and his assistant, Sim Dokpu, and the site itself occupies approximately 410,000 square meters. Also called Northern Palace because of its location, Gyeongbokgung is Seoul's most prominent palace. Although situated in the middle of the city, once inside the gates of the palace, you quickly forget the hustle and bustle of city life. What is particularly appealing about walking through the site is that there is lots of greenery, a sight becoming an increasing rarity in downtown Seoul.

What left me with a deep impression is the National Palace Museum. The National Palace Museum is located south of the Heungnyemun (gate), and the National Folk Museum is located on the east side, within Hyangwonjeong. Entry to the palace includes admission to the museums as well. The National Folk Museum is well worth a visit, especially if you want some insights into Korean culture and the daily lives of Koreans throughout the country's long and turbulent history. I especially liked exploring the complex of dioramas, pagodas, and model homes on display in the museum's outdoor court. The museum itself is made up of three interconnected buildings -- there are maps available to help you explore. The National Palace Museum was created in 1992 and is filled with relics collected from archaeological digs at Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Jongmyo. Focusing on the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), it's the perfect place to learn about Confucianism (once Korea's main religion) and ancestral rites that were passed on through the royal line. The displays give insight into the lives of Joseon royalty and palace architecture as well.

Gyeongbokgung is a beautiful place I want to visit again. This time, we only visited it for two hours. I feel that I have not gotten to know its beauty at all. If you have the time, go there and experience this historical site!

Guest writer Gao Hai Yan.


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