Walking into the Joseon Dynasty

Authored by:
Geraldine L.

Geraldine L.

One of the most talked about activity that I anticipated was going to Gyeongbokgung, the largest palace from the Joseon Dynasty. The Youth Exchange Culture Communicator's Organization (YECCO) met with students in Gwanghwamun and gave us a tour of Gyeongbokgung. The most exciting part was being able to wear Hanboks. There are SEVERAL Hanbok rental shops near Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Changdeokgung. Upon arriving to Gwanghwamun, you will see numerous foreigners and Korean citizens donning an array of colorful Hanbok whether it is to visit a palace or the Bukchon Hanok Village that lies between Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Changdeokgung. My YECCO leader took my group to a Hanbok rental shop where you can rent a Hanbok for 2 or 4 hours for as little as 15,000 or 25,000 won. This is where my curiosity came in as I wondered how foreigners go through this experience. As soon as we got in, we were directed to choose a skirt. Since I am on the shorter side, I was directed to shirts for shorter people. Unfortunately, there was not much variety compared to the longer skirts. However, I was able to find a beautiful burgundy skirt with gold designs and accents. Afterwards were presented the skirt of our choosing to the staff who then gave 2 to 3 options of tops to choose from. Once dressed, we moved on to hair which I had anticipated. Being a Black woman with braids, I was curious to see how the staff would style my hair or if they would be able to. To my surprise, one of the staff members knew exactly what she was doing. She went straight in and began braiding and pinning my hair while also showing another staff member what to do. And I was very happy with the results, as were some of the other staff. The moment I walked onto the palace grounds, I felt like I entered a different time. Walking around Gyeongbokgung, I was in awe of the architecture and beautiful, colorful designs of the roofing. The palace grounds were preserved to maintain its historical essence and significance. It was interesting to learn that the structure of the palace and its buildings had intention in its creation from the ground and the walkways to the interiors of rooms. I have always been fascinated by the architecture of historical sites and traditional buildings untouched by western influence, so this was a thrilling experience for me as I walked out of the 21st century and into the Joseon Dynasty. My group took so many pictures that we barely had time to finish the tour, but we definitely got to see Gyeongbokgung’s beauty. I will definitely be returning and visiting the other palaces when it is much warmer!

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