Forty years ago, Seoul installed the first subway system in the country. Sixty nine years ago, Korea won it’s independence from colonial rule. And while the Western world was gearing up for the first World War and the rise of socialist movements one hundred and four years ago, Korea ceased to be ruled by a monarchy. Compared to the Western world, the Korean continent had a very slow start to the last century. The current day Korea enjoys blazing fast internet, a subway system rivaling the length of those in larger metropolitan cities, and is currently presided over by an unmarried female president; at least, the southern half of the peninsula anyways.
This accelerated growth has resulted in numerous issues from social to economic with generational gaps getting wider as time goes on. But as a result, this has left the entire national with a cadre of leftovers from civilizations not so long past.
This past month, Gyeongbokgung held a nighttime opening for citizens and foreigners alike. The palace has stood (and fallen) for hundreds of years in the center of Seoul, like a jewel. Under the Joseon dynasty, the palace was the seat of power from which the King ruled the country until it was lost in an invasion by Japan. After having most of the surrounding structures burned and destroyed, only a few structures remained. The past decades have brought reform originating from a profound respect of the past.
Exploring the environment of many of the palace grounds means coming across many construction sites. Living quarters, guard barracks and other structures out of the past are being rebuilt slowly as space allows in accordance with blueprints and layouts that have been preserved over the past centuries.
During the day, the palaces are splendorous works of art. The columns, murals, and woodwork shine in the sunlight like standing portraits of the past. But at night, at night they shine like stars. Although the last event has ended, I would highly recommend everyone to buy tickets and attend at least one of the openings if opportunity allows. It’s an amazing testament to what once was, and how far the country has come.
For more on the palaces, take a look at my past blogs which I’ve linked below. Happy adventures!