Korean Traditions: What Was Life Like In Korean Palaces?

Do You Ever Wonder What Life Was Like in The Past?

When traveling to Korea, there are so many things to look forward to. Different sites to see, food to eat, and stores to shop at. The opportunities for activities to participate in are endless. While you are exploring the city, you may notice lots of famous landmarks including ancient grand palaces perfect for design and architecture lovers. Although the palace buildings may be stunning, many of us don’t know the story behind these beautiful landmarks and the royal family. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and discover how these Korean palaces came to be. 

Korean Palaces: The Five Grand Palaces of Seoul 

korean palacesGyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung is the first Korean palace to be built in 1395 by King Taejo and gave it a name meaning “Palace Greatly Blessed By Heaven”. It was ransacked twice by Japanese throughout the centuries but the palace was restored back to life in 1990. The palace features a changing of the guard ceremony at the main gate.

Changdeokgung Palace

The Joseon kings lived in this palace that was built in 1405 giving it a name meaning “The Palace of Prospering Virtue”. This palace was constructed with nature and traditional elements when it was destroyed and repaired, they were able to recreate the original design. This palace features the secret garden.

Changgyeonggung Palace

Changgyeonggung was built by King Sejong in 1483 and gave it the name “Palace of Flourishing Gladness”. It was renovated by another king and the name was changed from Sugangung to its current name. This palace features two ponds.

Deoksugung Palace

korean palaces

Deoksugung was not initially a traditional palace. It was chosen from the royal houses as a temporary palace after a Japanese invasion in 1592. As a result, King Gwanghaegun named it an official royal palace meaning “Palace of Virtuous Longevity”. This palace features a forest garden and art museum. 

Gyeonghuigung Palace

Gyeonghuigung was built in 1623 giving it a name that means “Palace of Serene Harmony”. The palace is particularly small because it was used as a secondary palace for the king in case of an emergency. This palace features Seoul Museum of History. 

Korean Lifestyle: Why Do The Palaces Have Guards?

korean palacesWith information about royal palaces, you may notice that there is an opening and closing ceremony of the palace gates when you visit. Rewinding back to ancient times, guards had a task of guarding and patrolling the palace. They were in charge of inspecting any visitors and protecting the palace at all possible entrances. The guards were divided between day and night shifts. When the next shift took place, they would perform a ceremony. A reenactment of this ceremony has been created since 1996 for tourists to show historical authenticity. The guards wear royal uniforms, traditional weapons, and play traditional instruments. 

Why Do People Wear Hanbok?

Hanbok is known as traditional attire for Korean people. 100 years ago, the hanbok attire was worn daily. Now, it is worn on festive or special occasions. Tourists who visit Korea can rent them when they visit palaces for a more traditional Korean experience. The attire consists of two main pieces. Men and women wear a jacket call jeogori. As for the bottom portion of the attire, women wear a long skirt called chima and men have pants that are called baji. 

Korean Palaces: Conclusion 

To summarize, visiting Korean palaces is a great way to get a taste of history for the new country you are exploring. It expands your knowledge on how drastically our world is changing as each century goes by. Korea has more to explore than just its wonderful palace grounds. For instance, be sure to stop by our cosmetic clinic in Gangnam district while you are here if you are interested in a plastic surgery consultation. Many tourists travel to Korea to take part in medical tourism and we would love to tell you more about it. But for now, safe travels. 


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