At this point in the trip, Kathy & I had explored a lot of the retail and culinary side of Seoul, but not a lot of the cultural side, so we decided to dedicate a day to Deoksugung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village. We started at Deoksugung Palace, which was built in the mid 16th century. It was the residence of Korean royalty up until the Japanese annexation in the early 1900s, where it was then mostly used for government affairs. Today, it is a landmark and home to the National Museum of Art.
This is the entrance gate (Daehanmun) to Deoksugung Palace. We happened to come on the last Wednesday of the month, which was “Cultural Day” aka free entry. Yay!
We also happened to arrive right on time to witness the changing of the guards.
New guards getting ready to do their thing.
We also happened to be there when the fire department was running drills. It’s like everything was happening on the one day we were visiting.
They’re currently hosing down Junghwajeon Hall, the throne room and audience hall.
Seokjojeon, the modern quarters built in the 1900s. Deoksugung is a really interesting mix of Asian and European architecture. Seokjojeon is placed in the middle of the palace grounds, surrounded by classic Asian buildings, as if it got lost.
So many colors.
Now on our way to Bukchon Hanok Village. These little straw toppers are placed on top of planters to keep the plants warm during the winter months. Seriously!
More wide streets.
Memorial for all the students who died in the terrible Sewol ferry disaster in April 2014.
Statue of Sejong the Great, the king of Korea who created Hangul, the modern Korean alphabet.
Walking around Samcheong-dong on our way to Bukchon.
A K-Drama filming outside a cafe.
We stumbled upon a really adorable bakery and cafe called Heedonga Ummada (translates to “Heedonga, It’s Mom”).
Their specialty is tteok, super soft rice cakes filled with a sweet syrupy center. Absolutely delicious. This was their pumpkin tteok.
Finally, we made it to Bukchon Hanok Village. It’s a traditional Korean village (Hanok), dating back to the 1400s. The houses are preserved, but many still serve as residences, outfitted with modern interiors. Some even allow for visitors at certain hours. The area in and surrounding Bukchon is one of the most expensive areas to live in Seoul.
The peak of Bukchon Hanok Village, atop which sits a cultural center. It’s a bit of a hike to get up here.
Now that’s a dope hostel.
Japanese tourists dressed in hanbok, the traditional Korean dress.
Large modern houses in the neighborhood of Gahoe-dong.
A more suburban feel in this area of Seoul to end our day. This also happened to be the area that Kathy grew up in, so she really felt nostalgic walking around these streets. It’s always special to see someone’s hometown from their own perspective.