Sunday, December 16, 2007

또 궁을 이야기한다

Unhyeongung (운현궁-雲峴宮) is not really a palace as its name would suggest. It is more like living quarters for the royalties during the Joseon Dynasty. I visited this place more because it was convenient to do so as it was at the backyard of where I stayed. My frank opinion is that you won't miss anything if you don't visit this place. The buildings in Unhyeongung are not unique and furthermore the "palace" is quite small. It didn't even took me half an hour to complete walking one round of the compund.

There are five grand palaces in Seoul but Unhyeongung is not one of them. Among the five palaces, I have visited Changdeokgung (창덕궁-昌德宮), Gyeongbokgung (경복궁-景福宮) and Deoksugung (덕수궁-德壽宮). I have yet to visit the two lesser-known palaces,(Changgyeonggung (창경궁-(昌慶宮) and Gyeonghuigung (경희궁-慶熙宮). I don't think I am in any hurry to do it as I have this feeling that you see one palace you probably see all palaces.

Unhyeongung is more like living quarter for royalties than a palace.

Just right behind Unhyeongung is another "palace". It is the palace that appeared in the Korean drama "Princess Hours". Although I could see the building from Unhyeongung, there was no direct access to the Renaissance-style building. To get there, I have to exit from Unhyeongung and then enter through the main gate of the Deokseong Women's University, Jongno Campus. In front of me, entering the campus, were two Japanese obasans. It was quite obvious that they were there specifically for the "palace". I don't think I would have made the effort to find my way to the "palace" if it was not along-the-way. The "palace" and its surrounding garden are quite nice though in my opinion, they are not exceptional enough to worth a special trip down.

I am wondering why I even bother to visit these two "palaces". Perhaps, I have too much time to kill and in no hurry to go any place. Though they are not that interesting to look at but a walk around these two places is quite pleasant and relaxing as they are tucked in a quiet corner away from the busy and noisy streets of Seoul. I am counting my blessing especially when not many people these days want to take a moment to smell some flowers along the way.

Yanggwan Building of Unhyeongung Palace in Jongno, Seoul.

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