Journals from Spring and Fall, 2012 South Korea
2012-02-26 Gyeongbokgung Palace
[Continued from “The Beginning in Korea”]
Yonsei Global is the second club that I have the privilege to be a part of. This club has many facets from language exchange (help teach your language and learn another), Korean history (tour many historic sites throughout Seoul), and company tours (experience the major companies in Korea to see how they function). The first event they held was yesterday, an escursion to the Gyeongbokgung Palace in the heart of Seoul. The international students split up into groups of 8 to be led by two group leaders.
My first bus experience was to the Palace with Yonsei Global. If anyone is a Harry Potter fan, you will understand my feeling on the bus in Seoul. It was just like the Knight bus! The bus driver was crazy, weaving through traffic and honking at anyone who was too slow or got in the way. That was a culture shock for me.
The palace was beautiful. We were able to go through the grounds of the restored palace as well as visit the museum that portrayed many traditional palace items and daily activity displays. The green, red, and statues on the corners of the roofs of the palace entrances are signs to ward off evil spirits and ghosts. Many of the statues and architectural features were alone for that reason. My friend tells me that the cat-like statues in front of the palace are supposed to protect from natural disasters and to give law and order among the populace (Haechi, as it’s known in Korea). The second one looks like a hen and is used as the royal emblem (more especially for Queens) and as the presidential emblem. You should definitely visit the Palace if you ever come to Korea and learn about the Palace history.
We also stayed to watch the Guard Ceremony. This ceremony included a large drum, traditional instruments, conchs, and the soldiers with either flags or weapons. Although there are many colors in the Guard Ceremony, all the colors presented were traditional royalty colors. The closer to the general the soldiers were the higher in rank they were. This was represented by the stones lining the entrance of the palace to keep order among the ranks.
Today I participated in a club called Emmaus Campus Ministry. They were kind enough to pick students up from the dorms and direct them to church for our first Sunday. It is a great ministry that I am thrilled to be involved in. After service there was dinner and a game night where we were able to meet and greet all the staff members and students in the Emmaus club. We played Apples to Apples and also Four on a Couch (a great name game, takes a bit of time for large groups, though). I am super excited for getting plugged in at Yonsei so quickly and already meeting so many new people from all around the world.
I will be keeping you posted.