Food and Travel
gyeongbokgung palace

South Korea Diaries: Exploring Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Welcome back to my blog! In my previous blog post, I shared about our exploration to the UFO-like building and Garden of Light in Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). If you plan to visit South Korea soon, have time to visit at least one Royal Palace. There are five grand palaces in Seoul, and Gyeongbokgung Palace is the most beautiful and the largest! Gyeong-Bok means “brilliance and fortune”. The name signifies the Joseon dynasty’s vision to thrive and prosper. You won’t imagine the fate of Gyeongbokgung Palace over many centuries. It is really a must-visit place in Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Introduction and History

Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1935. In fact, it’s just one among the five grand palaces. However, the location is quite far compared to the other palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace and is UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Gyeonghuigung (Western Palace). The other two were Deoksugung and Jongmyo, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among these three, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the most beautiful and the largest and remains the largest of all five palaces.

Gyeongbokgung Palace: Abandoned for two centuries, then restored!

When the Japanese invaded Korea during the Imjin War from year 1592-1598, the premises of Gyeongbokgung Palace were destroyed by fire. It was abandoned for 200 years (2 centuries).

Thanks to the leadership of Prince Regent Heungseon during the reign of King Gojong! The palace buildings were then restored in 19th century. The architectural principles of ancient Korea were applied into its appearance.

After restoration, it was destroyed again by Imperial Japan in 20th century

Just imagine what the palace had to go through over the centuries. Since then, consistent efforts on the gradual restoration of the walled palace complex are being implemented for it to go back to its original form.

Today, it is the most beautiful of all five palaces and also houses the National Palace Museum  (south of Heungnyemun Gate) and the National Folk Museum (eastern side) within its premises.


Getting to Gyeongbokgung Palace

We used the Seoul subway to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Since we are staying at Myeongdong, we did the following:

  • Take Line 4 at Myeongdong Station [Chungmuro direction]
  • Change to Line 3 at Chungmuro Station [Euljiro 3(sam)-ga direction]
  • Stop at Gyeongbokgung Station and look for exit 5

The main entrance to the palace grounds is a 5 minute walk due east. The basic fare for the subway is 1,150 won for the first 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) or less and 100 won per each additional 5 kilometres (3.1 mi).

Winter experience in Gyeongbokgung Palace

I remember visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace on our first winter trip to Seoul. For your information, January is the coldest month of the year in South Korea. It was very sunny that time, but very cold! I barely remember the details because it was just too cold to process.

The first sight right after exiting the station

In fact, Gyeongbokgung Palace is very huge which means it will require you a lot of walking. The complex has around 500 buildings in its 40-ha area which includes the outer court, inner court and the pavilions.

Don’t worry because there are also lots of spots where you can take a break from walking, sit down for a while and go sight-seeing. However, if you are not used to cold temperature, it will be a torture staying there under freezing temperature.

Grab a cup of coffee & some souvenirs

If you are like one of us who can’t stand staying too long out there walking, you can warm yourself inside this coffee shop just found within the vicinity of the area. When we went there, it’s a little bit crowded and we couldn’t find available seats so we just ordered some coffee and looked around for some souvenirs while warming up.

Royal Guard Changing Ceremony

We were so lucky that we were able to grab this great opportunity of watching The Royal Guard Changing Ceremony. For additional information, it is a rare traditional scene in Korea. This can be seen at the Gwanghwamun Gate, the main entrance of Gyeongbokgung Palace. When you go there, what you will be witnessing is the reenactment ceremony of the royal guards during Joseon dynasty. The ceremony is based on historical records to preserve the authenticity. It is being done everyday, except Tuesday.

There you have it – our winter experience in Gyeongbokgung Palace. On my next blog post, I will be sharing our Hanbok experience at Bukchon Hanok Village. Thanks for reading this far! Hope this ignite your travelling spirit to go to South Korea.

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emman damian
May 28, 2020 4:52 pm

I love the guard show in Gyeongbokgung Palace! I even had a picture in one of the guards! It was so fun!

Gervin Khan
Gervin Khan
May 28, 2020 2:34 pm

Wow! Such an amazing and stunning structure. The detail is very keen which everywhere you look is mesmerizing.

May 28, 2020 1:22 pm

I think it would be nice to visit a royal palace. South Korea would be a wonderful place to get to visit, I’m sure.

Franze Garcia
May 28, 2020 12:31 pm

It’s always been our dream, me and my friends to go to SoKor, probably because we were influenced by kdramas and other stuffs. Lucky you, you got the chance to travel here. Thanks for the virtual over gyeongbokgung!

May 28, 2020 12:06 pm

Cant wait to go there. Planning to visit my friends in South Korea this December. Hope this pandemic ends soon.

Shelley S.
May 28, 2020 10:12 am

Thank you for the history lesson on Gyeongbokgung Palace. The reenactment ceremony sounds very interesting!

May 28, 2020 9:44 am

I’ve always wanted to visit Seoul and after reading this you’ve inspired me to plan a trip. Your photos of the palace are beautiful. In the photo’s it seems cold, when is a good time to visit when it’s warmer?

May 28, 2020 4:39 am

I’ve heard so much about Seoul but never got the chance to visit it, I can’t wait to travel there soon…

Jessica Collazo
May 27, 2020 11:44 pm

I’ve always wanted to travel to South Korea this is so beautiful this place looks very historic I love it

Yesenia Roman
May 27, 2020 11:00 pm

Great pictures!

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