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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

South Korea: The Lives of Royal and Common Koreans‏

November 21st, 2010 · 1 Comment

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The National Folk Museum of Korea and Gyeongbok Palace, the first palace compound that the Joseon dynasty built, are right next to each other in the center of Seoul. Building that palace created Seoul as the capital of Korea in 1392, more than 600 years ago  These two attractions in close proximity to each other show how both royalty and the common folk lived in historic Korea. I visited both.

A few days earlier when I met Christine, a Scots woman, at the Haein Temple, she recommended that I visit the Folk Museum upon my return to Seoul. That was what brought me there and was great advice.

The Folk Museum has been on the grounds of Gyeongbok Palace since 1993. I started my visit today by wandering through the museum’s open-air exhibits. I particularly enjoyed the stone figures that reminded me of the “stone grandfathers” that I saw on Jeju Island. Indeed, that’s what they were.

A Stone Grandfather

A Stone Grandfather

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Inside the museum I enjoyed its three exhibits on the history of the Korean people, the Korean way of life, and the life cycle of the Koreans. It  uses replicas of historical objects to illustrate the folk history of the Korean people. Most of the photographs that I took at the museum were of the stages of life, attracted as I was mostly to the colors of those exhibits. I am a sucker for color!

Traditional Korean Clothing

Traditional Korean Clothing

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Celebrating 60th Birthday

Celebrating 60th Birthday

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I had not intended to visit Gyeongbok Palace, having visited Changdeok Palace, the residence of the later Joseon kings, early in my visit to Korea. But the driver of the taxi from the hotel took me to Gyeonbok Palace instead of to the Folk Museum, which was a five-minute walk away. Since I therefore knew just where to go to visit Gyeongbok Palace, I took that as an omen.

Gwanghwamun, the Main Gate of Gyeongbok Palace

Gwanghwamun, the Main Gate of Gyeongbok Palace

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I am glad that I did. To my mind, the most beautiful places in the palace compound are Gyeonghoe-ru and Hyangwon-jeong, both of which are two-story pavilions built on islands in the middle of lotus ponds in the rear gardens. The kings and their immediate families needed somewhere to go to relax comfortably, and these were their favorite places, as they would have also been mine.

Gyeonghoe-ru, the Largest Elevated Pavilion in Korea

Gyeonghoe-ru, the Largest Elevated Pavilion in Korea

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Hyangwon-jeong is supposedly the most photographed building in Korea, and I can see why. I think that the photographs that I took of it with steep Mount Bukan (elevation 1,142) in the near background just before sunset could not be more beautiful.

The Hyangwon-jeong Pavilion

The Hyangwon-jeong Pavilion

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