Seoul is well-known for its many palaces dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. The dynasty lasted from its founding in 1392 to its downfall in 1910 when the Japanese Empire annexed Korea. The palace is located in central Seoul and it served as the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty. On Saturday, Daniel, Maya, and I went to Gyeongbokgung to do a little sightseeing. The “Joseon” experience began right when we exited the subway car into the station. This particular station was built to compliment the palace above ground since it was designed with ancient looking pillars and a walkway made of stone and marble (?). We came up right next to the National Museum of Korea and as the entrance came into view, the sight just took my breath away.

This is what we first saw. The main gate is under construction (as is a lot of the palace grounds), this is the gate inside the main gate heungryemun.

Except for the skyscrapers outside the palace grounds, it was like stepping back in time. This is another picture of the entrance, heungryemun.

The people working at this palace are all dressed in traditional Korean clothing. Here is a picture of the the palace guards in full regalia.

We were lucky enough to catch the Changing of the Guards and we caught a little on video. There were speakers that explained the ceremony in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese. Take a look:

The palace was originally comprised of 500 buildings and after a few invasions, some reconstruction, and another invasion, only about 10% of the buildings are left today. We got to see the King’s sleeping chambers and we even got to see the King himself! (Here he is ready to hit the sack).

We also saw the Queen’s bedroom chambers and a beautiful garden behind the palace. Here are some pics of the garden and some other things we saw:

Also on the palace grounds were the National Museum and the Korean Folk Museum. The Korean Folk Museum featured an exhibit called 소리, or “sounds.” We learned a lot about the folk life in Korea in the children’s museum where Maya could get some hands on experience with day to day life. There was also an exhibit on the life of the Korean people. It took the viewer through the life of a Korean starting from birth and ending with the death. It emphasized all the traditions and customs linked with all the important stages of a Korean person’s life. Here are some pics from the museum:

We ended up spending about 4 hours there and we didn’t even get to see everything! There was one whole museum we missed. I guess we will have to head back some other time. We decided to get some dinner before we headed home. We walked for a little ways towards the next subway stop and came upon Insadong-gil. Insadong is a street that sells everything traditional. It is like a living museum. We found a nice little mandu (little Asian dumplings) restaurant. We had some really good mandu soup.

All in all, it was a really fun, but tiring, day.