Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Unhyeongung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village

Recently I went on a walking tour of the Unhyeongung Palace and the Bukchon Hanok Village.  Our tour guide was very knowlegeable and seemed to really love sharing his country's history.  I recommend taking the tour because you learn so much more than just going to these places alone.  Unfortuately I didn't take many photos.

First we stopped at Unhyeongung Palace.  Originally, this was not a palace, simply another home for the royal family.  The Joseon Dynasty ruled from the 1391 until Japan annexed Korea in 1910.  Every King was born in the same bloodline, except for one, King Gojong.  A king was born without a son; therefore, the Queen selected the landowner's son of Unhyeongung to become the King at the age of 9.  If I remember the story right, he married at the age of 12.  There were several rounds of girls to narrow down his wife.  Of the last three girls, the two that did not get chosen were never to marry anyone - and therefore became monks. 

Before King Gojong, Unhyeongung was not a palace, only another residence of the royal family.  But after he became King, this became a palace and it was renovated.  It used to be much larger than it it today.  However, when Japan annexed Korea, the royal family sold parts of the land for money.  There were several other interesting parts of the tour but I'm afraid I might bore you.

This is the only picture of Unhyeongung I took...
 House of a famous artist/carpenter in Korea who is committed to traditional Korean architecture.

 SO much detail into every window.

 Traditional Korea houses are in a square/rectangle with the center open.

 Off to the hanok village.  Hanok villages are perserved traditional areas of town.  This area wasn't protected until 2002, much too late.

 This is the former house of the current president, Lee Myung-Bak.

I learned a lot about Korean history from our tour guide and I recommend it.  Just go on the Korean tourism website and look for "walking tour."

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