September 4 –I am in Yecco, a club designed for international students where local Koreans volunteer to partake in cultural exchanges with abroad students. Alice is my YECCOmate, a local Korean who goes to Ajou University. She took another CIEE student and me the palace. This means our next stop is the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Before heading to the palace, we went to a hanbok shop filled with many beautiful colors, designs, and styles. The options were limitless from the different jeogori and chimas. Once we all wore our hanboks with our hair dolled up, we walked to the palace. There, Alice was our tour guide for the day. She explained the history behind the walls, where tents stood up to protect favored knights from the sun. Walking past the gates, we saw the home where the king slumbered. The king sleeps in different places each night; each room is filled with limited furniture to avoid any weapons that can kill or cause harm to the king. It is surprising to hear that the king also did not sleep with the queen. I wonder how hard of a life this would have been for the queen! She rarely left the palace. I also wonder about the many challenges the king must have had to protect a whole population of people, to invent new technologies that will better serve the country. Touring the palace in my hanbok, I felt I was teleported back in time, back to when the kings lived. I felt something magical as I looked at the traditional architecture, learned about what went in to build Korea, and heard about how life was like back before the modern ages all while wearing my hanbok.