Gyeongbukgong Palace – 경복궁

It seems its time to catch up on a back-log of blogs I’ve been meaning to share. Back in October, I visited my best friend Sunghee’s mum, Yeongran, and cousin, Bona, in Seoul. It’s been years since I’ve seen either of them (they were both in Canada while I was in high school, and of course I saw them when Sunghee and I came here way back in 2010). It was so wonderful to catch up and see a little more of Seoul with the locals!

Bona and I hit up a delicious German restaurant in Itaewan for brunch!

Sunghee’s mum suggested we try on Hanboks (Korean traditional dress) and head to 경복궁 (Gyungbokgun palace), a beautiful traditional palace in the heart of Seoul. I tried on a Hanbok once before when I came to Korea in 2010, and instantly fell in love with the bright colours, delicate embroidery, and flattering empire waist. Even though its common for all Koreans to don this traditional dress at some point in their life (i.e. weddings, festivals, and celebrations) I felt like royalty!

A Hanbok consists of the “jeogori” which is the long-sleeved, cropped upper garment, and the “chima” skirt for women, or “baji” pants for men, and a variety of accessories such as headbands, hair ribbons, and handbags. For men, the jeogori has changed little over the course of time. For women however, it has grown shorter over time, to the modern look I am wearing in the photos. The loose style of the hanbok is perfect for sitting on the floor, and I found it rather forgiving in the heat.

Today there are many variations on the hanbok. We saw some ladies wearing the more traditional, longer jeogoris. There are also hanboks with shorter skirts that come above the ankles, which are regarded today as acceptable, but in the past were associated with prostitution. There are also a wide range of colours from rich, dark burgundy and black, to the more common pastel pinks, blues, and yellows. Furthermore, there are more casual styles that can be seen in day-to-day life.

Bona’s hair traditional style with pearls and a matching ribbon.

After getting outfitted in our hanboks for the day, we headed across the street to 경복궁 – Gyeongbokgung Palace. If you’re wearing traditional dress, you get in free, as is common for other traditional and historic sites across the country. This palace was built in 1395, and is commonly known as the “Northern Palace” for its location north of the other palaces in the area. It’s the largest of the five neighbouring palaces. As with many other important historical landmarks in Korea, the palace was unfortunately burned down in the Imjin War in the late 1500s. The buildings were restored in the 1800s under the reign of King Gojong.

Beautiful view of mountains overlooking the palace gate.

And with nothing more than a 180 degree turn, we see modern buildings towering over the main gate!

Inside on of the palace buildings.

Sunghee’s mum and me!

Combat boots + hanbok.

Showing off my xring! <20|X|16>

This beautiful structure on the artificial lake was known as the King’s party place. He would drink late into the morning hours with his buddies. Sounds familiar…

Changing of the Guard.

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