|We meet again, Deoksugung Palace!|
This is Daehanmun Gate, the main gate of the palace.
|Yue with the guards, prior to the ceremony.|
|Patiently waiting for the ceremony to start.|
|Marching towards the gate.|
|Musicians with traditional musical instruments.|
|The guards, with their weapons.|
|Everybody in position.|
Supervised by a government official, the guards exchange passwords for verification. An eight-minute guard ceremony comes next, followed by a seven-minute change ceremony, and then capped by a closing march or the so-called 'patrol'.
Towards the end of the ceremony, the palace staff removed the ropes that cordoned the ceremony area and ushered us spectators towards the guards for photo ops. Yue, who was so impressed by the ceremony, became even more excited when he heard that he can take photos with the royal guards.
The ceremony, which lasts for more or less thirty minutes, is a must-see for tourists. Here's a snippet, just to give you an idea of how awesome this experience was.
|This man was very friendly, he called Yue towards him and said 'Here, picture!"|
|Who's your granddaddy? :)|
|Everybody with their game faces on.|
|He was the only guy in the troop who smiled for the camera. :)|
|I think Yue has found a new profession. Haha!|
|Yue and the Royal Guards.|
And no, you do not need to buy tickets to watch this performance. You will only need tickets if you wish to enter the palace grounds, which we did.
|Yue in the Palace (again)!|
Inside Deoksugung Palace after the jump!
One of the 'Five Royal Palaces' from the Joseon Dynasty, Deoksugung Palace was originally the residence of Wolsandaegun, older brother of King Seongjong. Deoksugung only became known as a palace after King Seonjo (he was portrayed by Lee Sung Jae in the 2014 sageuk 'The King's Face') returned to Seoul and discovered that he had no place to stay as most of the palaces had been destroyed by the war. At that time, this palace was known as 'Gyeongungung'.
|The entrance leading to Hamnyeongjeon Hall.|
Junghwamun Gate, one of the last structures built during the Joseon dynasty, is the palace's inner gate and serves as the entrance to Junghwajeon, the throne hall.
Connected to this hall by a narrow corridor is the Junmyeondang Hall, where King Gojong handled palace and state affairs during his reign.
Among the structures inside Deoksugung Palace, Seokjojeon Hall is the one that really caught my attention - mostly because it gives White House vibes. Completed in 1910, this Western-style stone building is a stark contrast to Seogeodang Hall. It is now known as the Daehan Empire History Museum, following a five-year-long restoration.
Located nearby is the Seogeodang Hall, a plain two-story wooden house which served as King Seonjo's residence. Among the structures in Deoksugung, this hall is devoid of color and decoration, which is similar to houses during that period.
Located on the hill of the rear garden is the Jeonggwanheon Pavilion, a banquet hall for foreign envoys who visited the palace. The word Jeonggwan, from which the name of the pavilion was derived, refers to 'quiet meditation'. This structure was designed by a Russian architect named Seredin-Sabatin.
At the far end of the palace lies Gwangmyeongmun Gate, which initially was the front gate of Hamnyeongjeon Hall. The gate is now used as an exhibition space for the Bronze Bell from 1462, the prototype of all the Joseon Dynasty bells as ordered by King Taejo, founder of the Joseon dynasty.