Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tour 2 Seoul Part One

Vicky and I visited Seoul and Yongpyong Ski Resort some two years back.

Seoul is the capital of South Korea and was, until 1945, the capital of all of Korea. On August 11, 2004, the South Korean Government announced that the capital city will be relocated in the Gongju area as of 2007 (perhaps due to overpopulation of the metropolitan area).

For more information about Tour 2 Korea, click : http://www.tour2korea.com/

The Joseon Dynasty built the 'Five Grand Palaces' in Seoul. The Joseon Dynasty (also known as Chosun or Choson) was the final ruling imperial dynasty of Korea lasting from 1392 until 1910. The Changdeokgung (Palace of Prospering Virtue) was built in 1405. The Palace was burnt to the ground during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and reconstructed in 1609 by King Sonjo and King Kwanghaegun. Next burning was 1623 because of Injo Political Revolt against Kwanghaegun. For more than 300 years Changdeokgung was the site of the royal court.

In early times, ordinary citizens were strictly forbidden from entering the King's residence. As a result, the Royal Palaces were constantly guarded by special military units known as Kumgun (palace guards). In front of the Donhwamun Gate, you can now see the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony.

The hand painted roof raft, which is decorated with flower patterns.

Huwon Garden (the Secret Garden) used to be the king's resting place where 300-year-old trees, pond and pavillion are harmoniously organized with nature itself.

Vicky was standing on the frozen quadraangle pond.

I can't remember the significance of this building, but it gave me a nice impression of winter.

The Insa-dong art and antique district has dozens of art galleries and shops selling art supplies, antiques, and handicrafts along one main street (Insadong-gil) and many side alleys. It also contains many traditional tea and coffee shops. Several restaurants offer traditional recipes in authentic settings. But we chose to have a simple meal in a small restaurant in one of the small alleys at the Insadong. It was splendid.

The Jongmyo Shrine is dedicated to the spirits of the ancestors of the royal family of the Joseon Dynasty. It is heavily influenced by Confucian tradition. When it was built in 1394 is was thought to be one of the longest buildings in Asia.

There are 19 memorial tablets of kings and 30 of their queens, placed in 19 chambers. The shrine was burnt to the ground during the Japanese invasion in 1592, but rebuilt by 1608.

The path leading to the shrine. The memorial services and traditional music of the royal shrine are very well preserved, handed down the same way as it was 500 years ago. It is held on the first Sunday of May, yearly.


Acrix said...

Lovely post with all the history! The table of foods look really inviting except for kimchi~

zbjernak said...

sceneries from "da jeung gum"

nice nice winter i bet

and about the king...
the last descendent of the chosun dynasty had pass away last few months right?

dont know why people wanna abolish monarchy...i am always the supporter of monarhcy everywhere in the world...except the swaziland king

Melissa said...

Hey! hisashiburi! How long did you stay in Korea? a few friends and I want to go for a 3 day weekend...do you think thats long enough?

Patrick Leong said...

acrix : yes, pretty good food. we actually ordered way too much food for just both of us. the food was cheap, cheap, cheap but spicy !

zbjernak : why not the swaziland king ? very selfish king ... the country has actually the world's highest HIV infection rate. why not abolish the monarchy ? i see no reasons to retain high powers of the monarchies.

melissa : i was there some two years back during christmas season. spent 3 days in seoul and 2 days at phoenix ski park. 3 days in seoul is good enough (me thinks). do not miss the war memorial museum (well i am a fan of war histories .. i read quite abit about WWII), try visit one or two of the korean palaces. if you have time, maybe see the DMZ (demilitarized zone) as well. i think it is worth it. and of course good, cheap and very spicy food :P

emotionalistic said...

Looks like the movie of the Last Emperor i watched. The palace is is indeed very huge!!!