Changdeokgung, or Changdeok Palace, is the first UNESCO World Heritage site that I visited in South Korea, and my ninth overall. The palace, located in Jongno-gu, Seoul, is constructed in 1405 by the Joseon dynasty, which ruled  Korea for five centuries, starting in the 14th century. It was initially built to function as a secondary one, but its role eventually got more important to the royalty.

The palace grounds

It was late in the afternoon when I arrived at the 45-hectare complex; I had difficulty navigating and decoding the subway map at first. It was also starting to get cold, according to Google Now the temp when I was there was 1°C but felt like -1°C due to wind chill factor. I find it hard to take pictures; either I fumble with the gloves on, or my fingers feel like freezing whenever I take them off to click the shutter.

Winter in the palace

There weren't a lot of visitors when I was there, maybe on the account that it was in the middle of winter. There were a young Korean couple in costume taking selfies, and a very noisy mainlander. The couple even asked me to take their photo when I passed them by.

Selfie in the palace

I explored the complex by going from one building to the other. The visit to the palace was actually my introduction to Korean history. I don't remember it was mentioned substantially when I was taking up North Asian history in UP. Of course their history is tied up with Japan's and China's, though I understand that it is an sensitive topic even until now. I did watch the Korean TV show Jewel in the Palace before, which depicted the royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty. I would imagine that this palace is the setting for that story.

The concubine's residence

I got as far as the residence of the king's concubine, which is smaller than the main palace. After admiring the building I started to backtrack. Beyond it was the Secret Garden, which was used by the royal family of yore.which was used by the royal family of yore., but my  ticket was only good for the main palace grounds. A more expensive one will give you access to the  Garden. It was almost closing time when I got to the concubine's residence, so I thought it wasn't such a loss to miss the garden.

I retraced my steps soon after until I got to the main entrance, then I went back to Hong Dae just in time for dinner. 

Golden hour at Changdeokgung

Useful Info
Entrance to the palace grounds cost ₩3,000. ₩8,000 if you include the pass for the secret garden. The main grounds are open from 9 am to 6 pm, while the secret garden opens at 10 am.

How to Get There
Take the subway at Anguk Station (Subway Line 3), then exit at Exit 3. Go straight for 5min until you reach the main entrance. You may also take the train at the Jongno 3 (sam)-ga Station (Subway Line 1, 3 or 5), Exit 7. Go straight along Donhwamun-ro Street for 10min.


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