A Day at Deoksugung

안녕하세요!  지넌 주말에 뭐 했어요?

(annyonghasaeyo!  Jeenan joomalae mwo haesseoyo?)

Hello!  What did you do this weekend?

As for me, my weekend was super busy!  But I kind of like it that way!  On Saturday, I met up with my cousin to go check out another palace.  We were planning on checking out a palace that has the King’s secret garden inside, as we had heard that it is very beautiful in the fall when the leaves start to change color.  Only the King and very few select people were allowed inside during his reign.  We were both really excited to check it out, but unfortunately by the time we got there, all the tickets had sold out.  So on to plan two: check out another palace nearby!

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We hopped on the subway to Deoksugung, a palace used at the very end of the Josen dynasty, or around the late 1800s.  Around this time, Korea was starting to be influenced by the Western world, inviting envoys from far away countries, such as America, France, and Britain.  As such, Western style buildings began to be built next to the traditional buildings throughout the palace.  Later, during the occupation of Korea by Japan (which lasted from about 1910-1945), the palace was turned into a museum and then zoo.  Now it is restored and open to the public to view!

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We wandered and explored the palace, and then got to watch two performances, the changing of the guards, and then a play showing what it was like when foreign envoys came to visit and report to the King.

The changing of the guards was really exciting!  It started off with about 50 actors dressed in traditional clothing marching towards the front gate of the palace.  the guards switched and the new set took their place in front of the palace.  The reminded me of the guards at Buckingham Palace, the ones who aren’t allowed to speak, move, or react to what people say or do.  Have you seen pictures of them before?

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After the changing of the guards, we watched the play.  Thankfully, there were TVs displaying what was being said in English behind the actors, so we were able understand most of what was going on.  A guy about my age sat next to us, and helped explain to us what we didn’t understand.  The King greeted the envoys and then a fake banquet was held, and we were entertained by the Kings band and some women doing a traditional sword dance.  Then, the play was over and we got to take pictures with the King!

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Then we continued our trek around the Palace, exploring every nook and cranny we could fine, along with out new friend Joon.  He took pictures for us and even helped us find our way back to the correct subway station when we left.

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While the Palace was awesome beyond belief, my favorite part was meeting Joon.  I realize now how scary and intimidating it can be when you’re in a foreign country and the language being spoken is not your first.  I have meet a lot of people like Joon in my time here, and it’s definitely something I will think about when I go home.  Of course, using your head and listening to your gut feelings are important when you are talking with anyone you don’t know, but a smile and a friendly greeting can go a long way in helping someone feel comfortable and welcome.

Have you guys ever stopped to help someone who looked a little lost or out of their element?  What did you think about your experience?  Would you or have you done it again?

I heard the weather is changing and getting cold there, so stay warm and don’t catch a cold!  Have a great week!

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