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The changing ceremony of the Chief Gatekepper in GyeongBokGung

GyeongBokGung(Palace) is the main palace which places in Han-Yang, nowadays’ Seoul, of Joseon dynasty of Korea. After Joseon chose Han-Yang, as the new capital, they started making GyeongBokGung(Palace) in 1394 and finished in 1395. The name ‘Gyeong Bok(경복景福) means ‘be blessed, having lots of good fortunes’. GyeongBokGung(Palace) is a must for foreigners who came to Seoul. Many peoples in Korea also visit it on free days with their families, so it is always crowded with diverse peoples. GyeongBokGung was placed in Han-Yang which was surrounded with mountains and the big river, HanGang(River) at the front. It was safe from the enemies trying to attack Han-Yang thanks to the mountains, and was very convenience in transportation and commerce using HanGang. Actually, GyeongBokGung was much bigger than the enormous Forbidden City of China and it was also built almost a hundred years before china. However while the period of Japanese colonial rule, it became smaller and was fatally vandalized because of Japan. Most of the buildings disappeared and the size of the palace shrank. GyeongBokGung of nowadays is only the 30% of the original GyeongBokGung of the past. Our government tried to restore the palace and built again some important buildings exactly the same as the original one, but it doesn’t has the same feature compared to the past. Though the buildings were disappeared and vandalized, GyeongBokGung still has numerous numbers of visitors with its’ unique beauty and atmosphere.

At first when Brent told us we were going to collect past photos of the place which we choose, I thought it was a horrible idea. The place our team chose, GyeongBokGung, was so big and we could only find the important buildings’ pictures. Not only that, cameras were first used in Korea on 1880s, and there are not that many pictures on that time because the people of Joseon thought cameras takes the soul of the people who took pictures because of the photos which got the exact same scene as the real subject although it is not a drawing. However as we find the pictures more and more, I become to love the graceful buildings in GyeongBokGung and the liveness of the past palace so much. I felt like if I was traveling through the capital of Joseon dynasty.

We mostly collected the pictures of 1920s, while under the last emperor of Korea, GoJong’s reign during the period of Japanese colonial rule. All of them were yellowish faded photographs of white and black. They were not clear with strange black spots all around the picture. The buildings in the pictures were which we could still see by our self when we go to GyeongBokGung, but some of them were the ones which were moved or vandalized by Japan while the period of Japanese colonial rule. The familiar scene of GyeongBokGung looked quite different in the pictures, but it still looked so beautiful with the round elegance mood and looked more lively with many buildings crowded in the palace. The government had restored many of the destroyed buildings in GyeongBokGung by bringing traditional master artisans of Korea. Nevertheless, I felt that strangely, GyeongBokGung of nowadays has subtle difference compared to the original one of the past. Unlike the past GyeongBokGung which was crowded with passersby and people’s houses around the palace, GyeongBokGung is now surrounded by big wide roadways and tall buildings. Peoples are still crowded around it because where GyeongBokGun stands now is one of the main centers of Seoul, but it’s hard to find the same liveness like the past. GyeongBokGung had changed little by little as time went by, but it still looks graceful, boasting its’ Korean styled beauty as always. Although I felt some sadness while comparing the past and present GyeongBokGung, GyeongBokGung is beautiful as always I am so proud of GyeongBokGung.

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     Whether it is a funny or boring topic, every topic becomes more interesting and fun when we flavor some funny stories about them. Our team had a hard time finding interesting stories about GyeongBokGung, but we finally found the perfect story about the Korean style April fool’s day when the first snow falls in the palace. I can’t explain how hard I laughed when I first heard that story with my sister! (Secret stories about the palace of Joseon, witten by Emily ☞ https://kawibawibo.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/gyeong-bok-palace/) I could imagine the people of the palace planning the smartest way to trick the king, waiting for the first snow in the strict, dignified palace with such strict hierachy. It was sosososo funny to imagine the scene, whole people in the palace, except the king, cleaning up the paths which the king uses and pretending there has been no snow last night with an air of clear innocence, and waiting for the king to be fooled. Thanks for the King because he generously forgives all the playful tricks and grants their wishes on the first snow, I thought the mood of the palace would have felt quite cozy. Not only because it had snowed that day, because the king would have felt friendlier to the people in the palace, unlike usual days. There are other several stories about GyeongBokGung in the paper which Emily wrote. They were very interesting, and I could have more information about GyeongBokGung.

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      We can arrive at GyeongBokGung by about at least an hour anywhere around Seoul and the capital area, so GyeongBokGung always felt to me as a very familiar being. The main palace of Joseon dynasty where the kings of Joseon lived, that was all. I’ve visited GyeongBokGung very many times, but everytime when I visited there, I didn’t have anything special in my mind which was impressing to me. However, due to this project, I again noticed and felt the true beauty of GyeongBokGung and I became overcome with the pride of our palace of Joseon dynasty, observing lots of features of past GyeongBokGung by finding old pictures and reading several interesting stories about it. The graceful and beautiful scenery of GyeongBokGung still remains with the pretty and elegance round roof tiles and black brown and red buildings built with Korean traditional styles. Round and elegance, but orderly and stern figure of GyeongBokGung is my pride and our people’s pride, and further more Korea’s pride which will show the history of Korea and show the foreigners the feature of Korea.

IMG_9578160014582136WAR & CONFLICT BOOKERA:  KOREAN WAR/CIVILIANS & REFUGEES

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