Saturday, November 5, 2011

Seoul Day 3: Deoksugung Palace and Changing of the Guards

With the Seoul City Bus route as our guide, we decided to go to Deoksugung Palace, which is the nearest to the Gwanghwamun Square.  After asking for directions, and still with no concrete plans,we decided to ride the Subway to get to City Hall.  We knew that the next schedule of changing of the guards is at 2:30PM, it was a better option to spend 900 won in transportation than to waste more time looking for the palace.
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Deoksugung Palace


Deoksugung palace has served as residence twice during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). King Seonjo resided here in 1567 till 1608, calling it as the “temporary palace in Jeongneung-dong” because he lived here because all other palaces have been destroyed during the war with the Japanese.  It was name as Gyeongun Palace by Prince Gwanghae, successor to King Seonjo. Later, it became a residence to Gojong but in 1907, he was forced to hand over the throne to his son Emperor Sunjong who chose to live in Changdeok Palace.  He has given the Title of Deoksu to his father which means virtue and long life.  The former Emperor Gojong continued to live at the palace, now known as Deoksu.

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Care for Donuts, Guards?

Deuksugong is one of the palaces which shows that history and tradtion could mixed and adapt well in the modern world.  We got of City Hall Station seeing guards parading and so we followed them into the castle.  Waaaahh!!! It was time for the changing of the guards!  Just in the nick of time!  So Kat and I found our place in the crowds snapping pictures like mad. 

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New Troop to guard the gates

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Changing of the Guards

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New Guards manning the gates of Deoksugung Palace

After the ceremony, we got tickets to enter the palace.  The palace is actually vast.  The architecture is a mix of Western and traditional style.  Below are some structures seen at the Palace.

From the gate, Gingko trees lined at each path going toward the Jungghwamun or some sort of a gate of the Junghwa-jeon, the throne hall.  Tourists are not allowed to enter the throne hall but one could the prestige of the emperor with its ornaments.  The exclusive pathway of the emperor is adorned with dragons and the windows are all golden.

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Gingko trees adorning the path towards Jungghwamun

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Jungghwamun

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Inside the Throne Hall

Just beside the throne hall is the only Western structure on the palace compound, the Seokjo-jeon which housed the emperor and empress, attendants and valets.  Fronting that is a very beautiful fountain landscaped in the middle.

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Seokjo-jeon

Just after the fountain area is the Gwangmyeongmun, initially a gate of the emperor’s sleeping chambers.

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Gwangmyeongmun

What is lovely about all these is the touch of Autumn!  Gingko leaves falling everywhere. The tints of red of the maple tree gives off a vibrant picture!  Lovely!  God’s creations are surely amazing.

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Autumn is Love

We weren’t able to finish all the other structures in the palace as we saw people hurriedly prancing towards the gate where we entered.  Likewise, the guards are in formation. 

Thinking of another ceremony, Kat and I hurriedly went to the gate.  Just before exiting, we took the opportunity to have our photos taken with some of the guards!  Ooh La La!  We are really lucky to have this experience!  We were thrilled!

When the parade were about to start, Kat and I went out of the gates to witness the ceremony.  The narration was in Korean so I wasn’t able to understand but with the looks of it, the guards of different troop offered a treasure chest of which it was inspected and then received as a gift offering.  Below is the video.


I really had a grand time with Deoksugung.  It momentarily made me forget that I wasn’t able to enter Gyeongbukgung.  But then again, I’ll stop whining and start saving for another trip to Seoul in the near future.  Yes people!  I will be back! And the gates of Gyeongbukgung will open for me. =)

 -o0o-

Entrance Fee: 1000 won
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Ticket Information

If you plan to see other palaces you may opt to buy the Combination Ticket which costs 10 000 won allowing you to enter Gyeongbukgung Palace, Changdeok Palace (the Secret Garden included), Changgyeong Palace, and the Deoksugung Palace.

How to get to Deoksugung:  By Subway go to City Hall Station and go to Exit 2 or Exit 12.

-o0o-
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Deoksugung Palace
58 Taepyong-no, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea

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