3 In Korea/ Travel

Chang Deok Gung


I should have visited during springtime flowers or autumn leaves, but there is something rather poetic and haunting about a quiet winter palace. Chang Deok Gung, or Chang Deok palace, is smack in the middle of a bustling city. Yet once you walk through the gates you feel quite removed. No neon signs or rushing traffic. No towering skyscrapers or blaring music. I’d like to say it’s full of serenity, but there’s something almost unbearably desolate about the remains of the last Korean dynasty. A place once full of life that is now empty and cold in this harsh winter.


I had bought a ticket for a tour through the ‘secret garden’ and had some time to spare.  So I wandered through the buildings thinking about ancient kings and drinking in the flurry of colors. Though, if you had given me maroon and  green paint to decorate a house, I probably would have plopped down and cried cringed at the thought of putting them together.  Yet somehow it all comes together and the buildings sit rather gracefully among the ponds and trees.


I’m absolutely in love with the rooftops. It really is a shame that everyone now lives in uniform apartments.


Inside the secret garden were some of the most beautiful structures in the palace. The garden was usually closed to everyone but the royalty. They occasionally threw a party now and then, but otherwise it was off-limits. I’d love to see the garden in the spring and autumn when the pond is reflecting everything around it.


Only the king was allowed to pass through the tall center gate. Everyone else were forced to bow as they entered through the smaller side gates.


This doorway apparently grants you a long life. Our guide joked that she had the best job in the world as she passes through this gate every day. I passed through it about six times.  I wonder where that puts me?


This tree was just astonishing. The only tree decorating I have seen are all Christmas trees. There was something so special about this tree embellished in swirling prints around the trunk.


I’ll have to come back in April and November. In the mean time, I’ll have to brush up on my knowledge of Korean history and architecture!

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