A member from my favorite music group, VIXX’s Ken (재환), was cast in the musical Chess back in 2015. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a performance while I was in Korea. I stayed in a hotel near the theater, which was also close to Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁), so I decided to explore the palace during my free time. I got really lucky because there was no charge for admission on the day that I went.
I am pretty certain that I had visited the palace as a child when I went on a tour with my family but it seemed like a new experience anyway. I wandered the grounds with my camera and while it was a bit awkward, I enjoyed the freedom of it. Having a tour guide is always educational and informative but sometimes it’s nicer to be able to experience places without being overwhelmed with background information being lectured at you. When you are without guidance, it makes you think deeper about why things were made the way they were and other ideas like that.
What’s really amazing is that the palace was built back in 1395 during the Joseon dynasty era! The architecture is remarkably beautiful and full of vibrant colors which varies from a lot of the blandness of modern buildings.
It was fascinating to see women wandering around in traditional Korean dresses (hanbok 한복). Everything felt more surreal because there was that contrast of past and present simultaneously in front of me. Another one of the beautifully surreal aspects was seeing traditional buildings with skyscrapers and mountains peaking out behind them.
The National Palace Museum of Korea and National Folk Museum of Korea are also on the grounds. It makes for a long day of walking but you won’t even realize it because all of the sights are so captivating.
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Open year round
Hours vary depending on month (check website listed above)
161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu
Seoul, South Korea