Gyeongbokgung is the biggest palace in Seoul. Today my dorm mates and I went there to do some sightseeing. As we got out of the subway a bunch of kids wearing coats saying ‘Free Tour Guide’ were waiting near the exit. They approached us as soon as they saw us and proposed to give us a tour of the palace. We were so surprised, young kids spending their weekend on informing foreigners about the Korean dynasty (spending your weekend level Asian 9gag.com). They were amazing tour guides and spoke very good English.
When we entered the palace grounds the guards were just changing shifts, an amazing sight. I honestly wonder if its just show or if they are real guards like the ones in Londen. I think they’re actors though because after the ‘changing’ I couldn’t find them anywhere haha!
The palace was super large. When we arrived at the first chamber I thought the palace was very small, but unlike European castles Korean palaces are spread out, with single buildings serving as one chamber (be it bedroom, study or tomb). Behind the sleep houses a nice garden for the queen, who could hardly go out of the palace, was created. As its currently winter it all looked quite dead, but I imagine the place looking beautiful with colorful flowers during the spring/summer. I’ll most likely visit it again when Chris comes over.
One of the things that the free tour guides told us is that all of the kings were very scared of being assassinated, something that happened to many of them. Being as curious as I am I asked the girl guide what happened if the murderers were caught. I was expecting torture and dead, and that was indeed the case but the Koreans stepped up these horrors a notch by not only killing the assassin, but also killing his entire family (three generations) not sparing women and children.
At the end of our tour we treated our free guides to a cup of delicious Korean herbal tea. I took lemon honey tea, made with real chunks of lemon, which tasted amazing and is supposed to help against colds. My nose is running a little from the immense chances in weather here (yesterday it was 20 degree Celsius/68 Fahrenheit and today it was 5/41 again..) so I hope the tea will do it’s job and prevent me from getting a serious cold.