Today I met up with Jay for a morning at the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Jay is an adorable spirit who happens to be the wife of the owner of the apartment where I will be moving to on Monday in preparation of Rain’s military discharge. See, the apartment is apparently walking distance from DEMA. Convenient. Oh yes, I’ve done my homework. It is amazing (but not surprising) that Rain makes an appearance in just about every single post! He sidetracks me all the time! But, okay, let’s regroup and talk about the Palace, because it was pretty awesome!
Gyeongbokgung Palace was founded in 1395 just three years after the Joseon Dynasty was founded and it served as the main palace for more than 500 years. I thought the grounds of the palace were truly lovely. I was having flashbacks of Arang & The Magistrate, Chuno, and Faith because there were areas in the compound that looked quite familiar! I asked Jay (who is a film major) if dramas and films are allowed to be filmed on the palace grounds and sure enough, they are. I really like sageuks, a lot so I was thrilled to check out this palace.
Strewn around the palace were various stone carvings, animals to be exact. As it turns out four were actual guardians of the palace – the Black Tortoise (Guardian of the north), the White Tiger (Guardian of the west), the Blue Dragon (Guardian of the east) and the Red Peacock (Guardian of the south). I captured one:
The Blue Dragon (I dig dragons, dragons are cool):
There were 12 other stone carved animals about the palace and these animals represented the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. They were in place to guard the main hall of the palace and to also guard the royal family from evil. I grabbed a couple.
The tiger (this is my Chinese zodiac sign):
And, the rooster:
King Sejong, the 4th King of the Joseon Dynasty, ruled from 1418 until 1450. Every day of his rule, he held a meeting from 3am until 5am in “Sajeongjeon” which was one of the buildings on the compound. Sajeongjeon means “hall where the king should think deeply before deciding what is right or wrong.” To me, that almost sounds like a meditation practice so I am just going believe King Sejong was a yogi! Here is a shot of Sajeongjeon:
When I looked into the main hall of the palace I was having Faith flashbacks and almost expected to see Lee Min Ho come storming in. That would have been epic! But, he didn’t. The main hall or “Geunjeongjeon” held everything from meetings to receptions with foreign envoys to the king’s affairs of state – but most importantly, this is where the coronation ceremony took place. Geunjeongjeon translated means: “all affairs will be properly managed if Your Majesty demonstrates diligence.” Geunjeongjeon:
King Gojong, the 26th King of Joseon, had a palace within the palace constructed and I thought this area was remarkably beautiful. Sitting in a square pond strewn with lotus flowers is a pavilion called Hyangwonjeong which was built in 1873. Originally there was a bridge that connected Hyangwonjeong to Geoncheongung. Geoncheongung was a separate living quarter for the king and queen. That structure was dismantled in 1909 because in 1895, it was here Queen Myeongseong was assassinated. The beautiful pavilion remained:
I swear I think Gyeonghoeru Pavilion was used in filming some portions of Chuno!! This is where the king threw banquets for foreign envoys. It was burned down in 1592 but was rebuilt in 1867 and was built according to the principles of I Ching.
On the palace grounds there are a couple of terraces but this one in particular housed huge earthenware jars. Back in the day, these jars held various contents and their size determined what the contents were: the largest jars were for soy sauce, the next for salted fish, and the smallest for soybean paste.
I enjoyed walking the grounds of this palace so much. It is the oldest palace in Seoul so lots of juicy history behind it. Here are a few more pictures:
While I was waiting for Jay to arrive there was actually a changing of the palace guard and I did not realize it until the end that there was also a satto sitting high up in one of the buildings watching over the changing!! I could have had my full on satto moment, but I missed it!!! Here are some pictures of the palace guard changing:
The city skyline kind of takes you out of the moment but it was still rather cool.
Wait!! Check it out closely, but you can see the Satto sitting up in that pavilion overlooking everything!! If you look directly over that center archway, he is there! Satttoooooo!! LOL!
As we left, there were more palace guards standing in front of the entry way. Yes, there were tourists (and locals alike) taking pictures with these guys. This guard was the tallest and just stood out – so cool!! 🙂
For a sageuk-lover, I truly enjoyed visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Meeting Jay and spending the morning with her was also pretty cool because I made a new friend and Seoul contact. Don’t know where my adventures will take me tomorrow but I am sure I will have something to share!