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Korea’s Most Beautiful Palace (경복궁)

September 4, 2010

I’ve already uploaded the pictures you’re going to see here on facebook so it’s not going to be anything fascinating to those who are my facebook friends. This is extreeemely belated (as are the following posts about Korea/Japan from now on) but I just thought that I blog reminders of my journeys for myself before my memory fails me (You’d be surprised at how quick, hoho).

Pearly, another Singaporean girl studying at SNU, and I arrived at Kyungbokgoong at nearly 1 in the afternoon, and seeing that it was summer, it was hot and sweaty and not at all a great time to be exploring the city. The heat in Korea and Japan (Japan’s worse) is worse than humid, sticky Singapore. This is relentless, cloudless, sunny heat that beats down on anyone and anything that moves.

But we are fearless explorers and onward we proceed!

Because we timed our entrance (for real), we managed to catch the procession of changing of guards. It was pretty grand but very touristy.

경복궁 is reputedly the most beautiful palace in the whole of Korea. To be honest, it was a beautiful day and the skies framed everything nicely (such that it actually was not even necessary to edit any of the photos) but the expanse of the palace grounds was so large that by the time we reached the end, we could not even tell the previous building from the other. The entrance fee for the place was only 3,000won (around $4) so it offered a good, inexpensive alternative to even Korean families who want to take a weekend stroll in someplace more exotic and filled with historic value than a neighborhood park.

It is beautiful, but as agreed to by some of my friends and I who have been to palaces in Beijing, this pales in comparison.What detracts from it further is the fact that every one of these buildings here are reconstructions, meaning that the Japanese burnt down the original hundreds-year-old monuments during their colonial period and reestablished the Japanese government offices on the very same grounds – a historic, epic slap in the face that leaves no wonder to why Koreans still feel a certain sense of resentment toward their colonized past and to the Japanese. If I am not mistaken, when the Japanese colonial period came to a fortunate, fiery, atomic end, the Koreans burnt down the Japanese governmental offices in a very tit-for-tat fashion. In the audio-tour that we paid for, the commentators made every effort to reinforce the fact that this cruel act fashioned by the Japanese will not be forgotten. Emotionally-charged words (Yay, Secondary 1 RGS History!) were used to describe the Japanese army, its government and their actions at every, single description of every, single building. It became a tad laborious after a while.

(Above) This is what I meant by unedited skies. It was an absolute delight to upload all my pictures and realise that they were a gorgeous shade of blue, even on the computer screen.

We got up close and personal with some of the buildings. Unfortunately, because they all looked pretty much alike, I cannot remember what each building is for. But still, enjoy the pictures!

The upcoming pictures are that of the most beautiful building within the grounds. It’s like a fort, but much prettier.

We also went into the Emperor’s resting place. As a sign of respect, we had to take off our shoes before entering the area.

Overall, it was pretty underwhelming but still a must-see if one ever heads over to Seoul. It’s kind of one of those things you have to check off on your tourist checklist. I guess the most disappointing part of it was that everything was new and recreated and did not contain the flavor that one would expect of an old majestic compound.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. sandra permalink
    September 19, 2010 4:54 am

    cheryl your pictures are so beautiful!!!! when are you going to be back to cornell?? aka when will i see you again 😛

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