안녕하세요여러분! Hello everyone! On Saturday, 9/1, I went on an exchange student field trip with some of the members of HUG (Hands Up for Gathering), which is Sogang’s international student welcoming club. The places we went to are Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁), Gwanghwamun (광화문), and Cheonggyecheon (청계천). All credit goes to the Gyeongbokgung brochure published by the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, the half-page description that HUG gave to us, and Wikipedia.
Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)
Although I was too busy marvelling at the palace and taking pictures to listen to our guide (the surrounding chatter of Korean and foreign tourists didn’t help either), I’ll provide a brief history of Korea’s most beautiful and treasured palace. Gyeongbokgung (“Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven” in English) was originally built in 1395, the third year of the Joseon (조선) Dynasty (1392-1910), Korea’s last and longest dynasty. Gyeongbokgung served as Seoul’s largest and main palace for over 500 years, even though the Japanese put a wrecking ball to it in 1592 and 1915. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Gyeongbokgung has risen to its former glory as Korea’s symbol of national sovereignty due to reconstruction efforts since the 1990s.
Photos of The Changing of the Guard Ceremony
Photo teasers (so you can visit the place yourself)
Mesmerized by this palace’s beauty? It’s only W3,000 (about USD 2.66) for adults and W1,500 (about USD 1.33) for children 18 and younger. The palace gives a few free English language tours every day at certain times (don’t speak English? tours are also available in Chinese, Japanese, and of course Korean).
And introducing … the Blue House! (The residence of 이명박 Lee Myung-bak, South Korea’s current president). The Blue House is part of the Gyeongbokgung Palace tour and is located at the back of the palace (you just can’t go beyond the fence that separates you and the guard).
Gwanghwamun is the main gate of Gyeongbukgung Palace.
Cheonggyecheon is a 5.2 mile hang out spot downtown. The stream that flows through here makes the area a hot dating destination, attracting lots of Korean couples (pictures of some below). If I ever get a Korean boyfriend, I’ll be sure to bring him here (or rather he will be doing the bringing).
And lastly, a photo of me chillin’:
That’s all for this pilot episode of Korea: Sights and Sounds. See you next time!