By Christina Park, Foster Undergraduate participating in an exchange with Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.
There are many palaces to visit while you’re in Seoul, and they’re all so unique yet simple at the same time. Going to these villages and old palaces really allowed me to gain better insight on the rich history and culture of both Korea today and from many years ago. In comparison to temples and palaces of other Asian countries, I would say these palaces were much simpler and less ornate. However, they were still just as captivating. You really gain a better sense of the culture by simply walking through the old palaces, giving you a glimpse of the past. How they lived, what they did on a day-to-day basis, and the foundational power structure that still exists today. There are five major palaces in Seoul, and although I did not get to see all of them, I did go to Changdeok Palace and Gyeongbok Palace. Each palace was made of wood and had tiled roofs and multi-color paintings on the pillars and rafters. These illustrated the power and dignity of the ruling king.
Another awesome element of these palaces for tourists is the amount of Hanbok shops that exist nearby. A Hanbok is the traditional attire of the Korean people. Worn daily up until just 100 years ago, these days it is only worn on festive occasions or special anniversaries. Tourists can go into these shops and pick from a large selection of colorful options. The best part about these hanbok rental services is you get to wear them through the palaces. And if you do, you get free admission! It’s so interesting to see all of the other people inside who have also decided to dress up. It truly makes you feel like you are in a blast from the past. So if you ever visit Seoul, make sure to visit all the cool palaces in a traditional hanbok!