Amazing Kids! Magazine

Field Trip to Gyeongbokgung and Deoksugung Palaces

By Aazan Ahmad, age 15, Seoul, South Korea

 

On Friday, March 25th, I went on a school field trip to visit two of the five palaces in Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace and Deoksugung Palace. These two palaces are the most beautiful palaces I have ever seen. In the following article, I will be giving the historical backgrounds to these two palaces and the aspects I admire most about them.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, also known as the Northern Palace, is translated to “Shining Happiness” in English. It was built in 1395 in the capital city Hanyang, which is now known as Seoul. King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, built it after three years of his reign. It was the first palace built in the Joseon Dynasty. It served as the main palace in Korea until the 1592-1598 Japanese invasion. During the invasion, the palace was severely damaged. It was not until 1868 that the palace was finally reconstructed. The reconstruction proved to be not final as the South Korean government has been rebuilding the Gyeongbokgung Palace since 1990’s. To this day, it remains the largest of the five palaces.

When I was visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace, I admired the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion the most. Although it was originally built by King Taejo, his son, Taejong, expanded the area in 1412. It is a two story building, with forty-eight supporting pillars on the first floor. The kings used it to hold royal banquets. Although the bottom story is much bigger, the kings used the smaller upper story for much more friendly celebrations and feasts. Up to one hundred people, approximately, were able to lodge in the upper story of the pavilion.

Unlike the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Deoksugung Palace was not originally intended to be a palace. In 1592, during the Japanese invasion, King Seonjo fled from Hanyang to Uiju to ensure survival. After a year and a half, he returned to Hanyang only to find that he had no palace to reside in anymore. It was then that King Seonjo decided to reside in what is now known as the Deoksugung Palace, a place where his relatives lived. Centuries later, in 1907, Emperor Sunjong renamed it, “Deoksugung Palace” which translates to “Palace of virtuous longevity”. It is currently the smallest of the five palaces in Seoul.

One of the places I enjoyed sightseeing in the Deoksugung Palace was the Jeonggwanheon Hall. A Russian architect built it in 1900. It is known to be the first café in Korea. Emperor Gojang invited foreign diplomats for coffee in this area. The building is a beautiful combination of western architecture and traditional Korean palace style. Unfortunately, they do not serve coffee to visitors like me.

In conclusion, this article documents two historical Korean Palaces and the physical aspects that I admire most about them. I hope that if you ever get a chance to visit Seoul, you would consider vising these two palaces for yourself. If you enjoy your visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace and Deoksugung Palace, then go ahead and visit the other three palaces as well!