Today the weather forecast said it would be raining. So, I decided to just do something inside. However, I started with visiting the last left palace (finally). First, I walked around on my own and when I was already about to leave, I met some people from my Hostel and they told me an English tour was about to start. I joined the tour and got to know several interesting new facts. For example that the 21st King of Joseon dynasty ordered his son (because he was mentally sick and violent, so he wouldn’t be a good king) to commit suicide and when his son refused to do this, he forced him into a wooden box, leaving him inside there out in the yard of the palace in the summer heat until he died.
After having visited all these palaces, I know now some basics about how they build them. There was always and inner and an outer court. Usually the outer court used to be bigger because it was for all the state affairs. Palaces usually faced south, had the women’s rooms in the west and the crown prince’s in the east, because the king was referred to be the sun, therefor his son was the rising sun and located east.
Additionally, because of the good energy coming from the mountains, there always had to be a mountain in the back of the palace. Water was said to keep the energy. So, there was purposefully created a stream inside the palace area, so the good energy from the mountains won’t run, but keep inside this area.
In the main hall, there was one painting that was always in the back of the king, no matter where he went to. The picture was always carried with him. Even to his grave. And even on the 10000 won bill, where the picture of one king is seen, the picture is printed on it behind the king’s portrait. It shows the sun and the moon, resembling the king and the queen, five mountains which are real mountains in North and South Korea, resembling the land they ruled over.
On all the tours, they gave so many more information about statues, believes, special architectural things, the heating system, the way to expand rooms and a lot about the Japanese annihilation and how they burned all the palaces and so so much more. It would take me several hours to write down everything I’ve learned so far.
After I visited this palace as well, I continued to the War Memorial Museum again. Last time I had to rush through it and didn’t really get any of the information in there but only quickly looked at everything that was presented there. On my way, I just found out today was a national holiday. To be accurate the Memorial Day. Which was the reason for hundreds of people visiting this museum today. There was also a show in front of the building and they had several tents build up there at which you could hand in paintings, buy drinks or food or do thousands of other things. I walked around a little and looked at everything as well as watched a part of the show before entering the museum.
This time, I took my time reading all the information and trying to follow everything plus memorizing everything. The most difficult part is in fact remembering. It was such an information overload! The texts started from the very beginning with the first people coming to Korea, continued through the era of the three kingdoms, the unification into Silla, the development until it became Joseon Kingdom until the beginning and end and even aftereffects of the Korean war. All wars and the most important battles, strategies, persons, acts, everything was described. After having been there twice now, I really recommend to take your time there. I would rather visit it two to three whole days (one for each floor) and to take pen and paper with you to record what is interesting or seems to be important to you or do a timeline or whatever, but no way in hell you can just remember what you visited in a short time. If you really want to remember, this is the only way possible (except you have an eidetic memory). But if you only want to look at what they present in there, about four hours should be enough to get through it without reading any of the information.
After spending about six hours in whole in there, I am still not done and I really rushed through it rather than taking my time reading some texts maybe twice and just relaxing, watching the videos, stopping here or there to just look at some things intensely or all of that. It was more like reading the information, having a quick look on what was next to it, checking the map of Korea to locate all the cities and regions mentioned and then moving on, doing the same with the next text. And even though I did this, I didn’t manage to get through the whole thing.
Still, I enjoyed it a lot and I once again recommend this museum as well as the guided tours (which are all free) at the palaces and the shrine. You can’t get all these information they provide out of the flyers and information signs in the palaces. Plus, you can ask your guide as many questions as you want.
After the museum had closed, I walked to the next station and took the subway back to my hostel.