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Journals from Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea

2013-06-16 Gyeongbokgung Palace

 Gyeonbok Palace has been the home of Korean Kings on and off for centuries dating back to its construction in 1395. Such an old and fascinating piece of Korean architecture and history. During the day it’s a beautiful piece of Korean culture but by night it’s even more fascinating. The lights accentuate different parts of the palace in ways that are not visible during the day and can only be seen at night. The only downside is that swarms of people and tourists come to see it at night, making you feel like an ant in an ant hole. Simply viewing the inside of the main building is nearly impossible and requires an incredible amount of pushing and shoving, I got punched and slapped perhaps fifteen times in an attempt to maneuver my way across the grounds. This attraction is something that exudes culture in a setting such as Seoul where modernity and the urban lifestyle is so apparent; it’s a contrast that co-exists so well together, as if it were always that way. Inside the main building you can view the throne where the Kings used to sit and listen to the agendas of the court and people. I was incredibly determined to do this, so I somehow managed to push and shove my way into the area, which by all means was incredibly difficult. A couple bruises and moans later I found myself looking at the ancient throne where Korean kings spent their time fulfilling their duties and felt quite privileged. This lasted roughly four seconds as I was also pushed and shoved out of the area, which I was more than happy to do after I took a couple snapshots of the room. After that somewhat traumatic but rewarding experience I toured the palace looking at various chambers and such.

One area that especially caught my eye was the Chuirojeong pavilion in the middle of the Hyangwonji pond (made in 1456), where extravagant parties used to be held. During the day it’s quite gorgeous already but at night it’s absolutely breathtaking lit up. It’s easily my favorite part of the whole palace and that it was constructed in the 15th century didn’t hurt either. When coming from the U.S something that’s fifty years old is considered ancient considering our young history but in Korea, old is something that’s at least five hundred years old, holding up a completely different and impressive standard.

Although it’s had a couple remodeling incidents since its original creation, Gyeongbok palace still stands strong to this day, making a bold statement to Korea’s national history and pride. Tourists see this as another mark on the map but I see it as something to be proud of not only as a temporary resident of Korea, but as a human. The fact that you can simply pass something like this in daily life as Koreans do is fascinating to me because this is a part of their everyday routine. Koreans are incredibly competitive and innovative but always have a strong backbone leading them, much like how Seoul is a metropolitan city making waves internationally in many aspects but can still boast such ancient roots and tradition. Just one of the few things I love dearly about Seoul city. 

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