At the center of Gwanghwamun Square is King Sejong's statue. King Sejong is the inventor of the Korean alphabet, Hangeul. Thanks, King Sejong, for inventing an alphabet that was so easy for me to learn!
By the way, I bought this pink, suede (I think) coat in Dongdaemun 동애면 on my second day in Seoul. The weather was very cold and chilly when I first got there, about 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit during the day! (By California standards, we consider that to be a very cold winter day, har har, and while I was bundling up, I could see all of my friends back home at the beach and enjoying 80 degrees weather.) The saleslady told me the fur was 토끼 or rabbit. Sorry rabbit, I usually don't wear animal fur but thank you for keeping me warm. The coat is lined on the inside with cute doggie print. Oh Korean fashion, you make me smile (sometimes).
We made a brief visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven," which was constructed in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty and apparently the main palace and favorite of the Five Grand Palaces. It's also known as the Northern Palace.
Here's Gwanghwamun 광화문 and how it looks when crossing the street to Gyeongbokgung Palace.
What do you think of visiting palaces? I have a confession to make...Korean palaces aren't really my thing. However, I felt as a tourist I was obligated to see a cultural and historic site.
Let me in, please! It's only 3,000 won to enter and there are free guided tours, but I'd missed the time, I think. Maybe I would have found it a little more interesting...next time! This is Heungnyemun (The Second Inner Gate).
Of course, there were a lot of people there. The palace grounds are large and widespread. Visiting a Korean palace just makes me think of historic Korean dramas (don't judge me).
You can see Mount Bugaksan 북악산 in the background. This is Geunjeongmun (The Third Inner Gate) and Yeongjegyo Bridge.
Inside Gangnyeongjeon 강녕전. I believe this is the King's throne and where kings are crowned and official business and politics take place.
The uber detailed ceiling. Pretty impressive how they'd managed to restore all of this, considering that most of the palace had been destroyed by Japanese invasions in the late 1500s.
This was my personal favorite part of the palace. This is Gyeonghoeru 경회루, a hall for special state banquets and also Korea's National Treasure No. 224 (thank you, Wikipedia). I found it really serene with all of the water and green forest in the background (I found most of the palace grounds to be rather dry and barren, but then again Korea was just coming out of winter). It has the kind of atmosphere where I wouldn't mind staying around for a while.
I live here...welcome to my home! jk This was one of the other quarters but I'm actually not sure which...it may have been the Queen's quarters.
More pretty tiled ceiling.
Selca! I am Queen, baby! ;)
One of the side quarters...
We didn't stay too long since my friend had been there a million times already. We went back to Gwanghwamun Square and to some bookstores and music stores so that I could shop for kpop CDs and paraphernalia, keke. Here's Cheonggyecheon stream again at night.
For dinner, we headed to Myeongdong 명동 for some naengmyun 냉면 Korean cold noodles and galbi 갈비 (Korean short ribs). I've had it once before here in Cali and wasn't a fan, but the one I had in Seoul was so much better! I would definitely eat this again and again.
You mix it well with the gochujang 고추장 (red chili paste) and sesame oil. Yes, it is a bit spicy but oh so good! I would love it in the summertime, hehe.
Next post, Myeongdong!!