500 year palace history
Gyeongbokgung was the main palace during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). One of five palaces in Seoul, it has a 500 year history. It was built by the founding King of Joseon dynasty, Lee Seong-Gye, in 1395 as he moved the capital city from Gyeseong to Seoul. Located in the northern part of Seoul, it is sometimes called “Bukgwol.” Gyeongbokgung is 5.4 million square feet and rectangular in shape. On the south side is the main gate Gwanghwamun. To the north, Sinmumun, east, Yeongchumun, and west, Geonchunmun. In the palace are the Jeongak buildings such as Geunjeongjeon, Gyotaejeon, Jagyeongjeon, Gyeonghoeru, and Hyangwonjeong. Geunjeongjeon, the main hall, was where inquiries and morning sessions were held. In the front courtyard, three granite walkways are present. The slightly more elevated middle walkway was for the King. The ones on the side were for his court. In the yard, Pumgyeseoks stand on each side. Jagyeongjeon and Gyotaejeon were the King's mother and Queen's sleeping quarters. Jakyeongjeon is famous for it's flower wall and Sipjangsaeng guldduk (chimney). The guldduk is recognized as the most beautiful made in Joseon period, and is listed as National Treasure no. 810. Gyotaejeon was the Queen's personal living area, and the wall and the rear entrance overlooking Amisan Mountain are particularly eye-catching. What adds to the elegance of Gyeongbokgung is its lotus pond. Gyeonghoeru and Hyangwonjeoung. Gyeonghoeru was where foreign dignitaries met and special festivals were held when good events occurred in the nation. Hwangwonjeong is behind the sleeping quarters, and is in the back courtyard. It also has a lotus pond, but has a distinct feminine feel to it compared to Gyeonghoeru's. Its architecture makes great use of the surrounding Amisan's geography, and the area blends in beautifully, a great example of traditional Korean palatial structure. There is also the library, sujeongjeon, and the King's work quarters, Sajeongjeon. There are many designated Cultural Assets in the Palace. Many of these were collected from all over the nation, such as Gyeongcheonsa's 10-story stone tower (No. 86), Beomcheonsa's Jigwangguksa-Hyeonmo tower (No.101), and Borugak's Automatic Clock and Heumgyeonggak's Water Clock and Cheonsang Clock. In 1910, when the Korea-Japan Treaty was signed, Japan tore down all the Jeongak buildings in the south area and built their Command Center on the spot. The Japanese building has now been dismantled and the palace is in the process of being restored.
- Hours: Mar.-Oct. 09:00-18:00, Nov.-Feb. 09:00-17:00
- Closed: Every Tuesday
- Inquiries: Gyeongbokgung Administration Office 03-732-1931 (KOR)
- Homepage: www.ocp.go.kr (KOR/ENG)
Ages 7-24 - 500won
Age 25 and over - 1000won
(Group: 400won, 800won respectively)
Crazy Names for Almost Everything/place
I don't know if some of these places are imported from elsewhere or if Koreans just came up with these names. Stores like Teenie-Weenie (kids' clothing store), Prowstar (sounds like Starbucks?...the sign uses the Starbucks font also) and Old Rock (University Bar I reviewed in the Nightlife area; sounds and looks like Hard Rock logo) are but a few...but there are hundreds of funny names here.
They also have interesting designer knock-off names: Channel, A6 (which is an actual brand here, sounds like Asics) and that Prada bag you bought may say "Original" on the chrome plate instead of Prada (it's an original original bag, not an original Prada). My "piece de la resistance" is a little Hof in Insa-Dong (as you come out of one of the exits from Jungno-sam(3)-ga Station, Line 5). The place is called "Born to be Chicken"!
A couple more here: http://hometownyeouido.blogspot.com/2004/10/interesting-signs-and-yushengs-first.html
Take line No 5 ....
When looking for accomodation facilities, make shure that your acomodation is located along subway line No. 5! Nearly every main sights are located along this line ... or they are very close so that you have to change the trains only once ... My host Jinih told me that.
Yes, I found bowing very...
Yes, I found bowing very common and was surprised that even I, a white clueless foreigner was exposed to this practice. It is a show of respect and I simply bowed back slightly with a nod of the head, ackowledging the gesture. It is best to bow back from what I was told.
Some notes on things to bring
Korea has stairs, lots of them. Therefore it's best to leave the gigantic wheeled bag at home if you are going to be relying on moving around the city by subway or walking many places with your stuff. Summer is the rainy season. Bring shoes that can get wet or at least dry out quickly if you are planning on traveling in June and July. No need to bring an umbrella though, you can buy one here for as little as 3,000 won.
Clothing sizes here aren't the same as the US, so if you wear a size larger than medium in the US, it's best to not plan on buying tons of clothes in Korea. It's a good idea to figure out your shoe size and clothes size before you go shopping here, as there are not always places to try things on. As mentioned by others, deodorant is not easy to find here. However, I did see some in E-mart in Wangsimni station. Also, it's a good idea to bring any pain and cold medicines you might need, unless you can read Korean. It is not fun to figure out dosage instructions in another language when you are ill.
I haven't found anywhere (though I haven't really looked) that sells anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. This is nice to have when the sink in the bathroom is either dirty of nonexistent. Like hiking? Then bring a pair of boots with you. If you should forget your hiking stuff, no worries. Korea has tons of shops with both western and Korean outdoor equipment. If you are staying in a dorm or other place that doesn't provide bed linens; bring your own sheets. Quilted type blankets are easy to find and relatively cheap at Dongdaemun or the large stores (E-mart, Homeplus, etc). However, western sheets are often expensive (>30,000 won) and the selection is limited.
Again, if you're staying for a longer amount of time, know that you'll pay a premium for groceries such as peanut butter, cheese and other imported western products. I'm not sure it's worth it to pack a suitcase of peanut butter, but it's just something to note.