Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dreaming of Warmer Days

It's warming up here a little bit in Seoul, which means it's actually been above freezing during the day for a few hours at a time.  Not much, but it was enough to finally get rid of the rest of the snow.  It's not outdoor eating weather yet, but it leaves us hopeful that it will be soon.

In honor of that hope, I thought I'd put up some pictures from our first week here, back in August, when we visited Gyeongbokgung, the palace of the Joseon kings.  The original complex was built in the 14th century, but most of it was burned during several Japanese invasions over the years.  Most of the buildings you can see today were either built in the 1860s and 70s or within the last 20 years. 

Today they are trying to rebuild the palace; only about 40% of the original number of buildings are finished or under construction.  It makes the palace complex more of a tourist spot than an actual historical monument, but it's hard to find much in Korea that hasn't been burned in wars or paved over in "progress".  Only recently has the government taken a mind towards reclaiming its historical pride.

Here is a shot of the main entrance.

Here are some of the "guards" wearing traditional uniforms and fake beards and bearing traditional weapons.

This is within the outer courtyard, looking at the entrance to the inner courtyard.  The palace complex is enormous, and was once the home of thousands of nobility, retainers, and other staff.  Now it is home to tourists.

Here are some roofing tiles, because I like the lines and the intricacy.

This was the royal banquet hall, where the king and his lords would meet on the upper story.  The original was built in the early 15th century; this one was rebuilt in the 1860s

Here's to hoping the weather warms up soon, so that we can get back out and see more of this beautiful, chaotic country.

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