From the north end of Gwanghwamun Plaza I saw an unusual amount of people walking into Gyeongbokgung Palace so I figured I’d cross the street and see for myself what was going on. Normally the palace closes for the day at around 6:00pm but I discovered it was having special nighttime hours during the week that I was in Seoul. For a minute I debated in my head whether to buy an entry ticket or not. My original plan had been to come back to Gyeongbokgung the next morning to see the changing of the guard ceremony and enter the palace afterwards but as I thought about it I couldn’t deny that seeing the palace at night would be a novel experience. True, I would effectively be paying for the same thing twice, but on the other hand the entry fee to get into Gyeongbokgung Palace is minimal, so I wouldn’t be losing much money (admission is currently 3,000 won which is roughly USD $2.53). Ok, new plan: see the palace at night and then come back again in the morning to see it during the daytime. I bought my ticket and headed inside.
Guys with glowing red batons were stationed at the entrance to the paid area and were also patrolling palace grounds, which inspired me to pretend that Gyeongbokgung was being overrun by Sith. After passing through the gate to the paid area the first place I visited was Geunjeongjeon Hall where the king’s throne was housed. Next week when I’ll be publishing posts on my daytime visit to Gyeongbokgung I’ll include a little more of the history of the palace so today’s post won’t have much commentary on the various buildings I saw that night.
Further along the tour route I came to the King’s quarters at Gangnyeongjeon Hall. The front of the hall was being used as stage for a musical and dance performance that night. I would have liked to have stuck around for a while and watched the whole show but I also wanted to see as much of the palace at night as I could, so after about 10 minutes I continued on with my tour.
At Gyeongbokgung’s main pond the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion was reflecting in the waters. This building was where Korean royals would hold their banquets and other ceremonies.
With my remaining time I tried to cover as much ground as I could in the back of the palace. Some areas were lit better than others and after a while the staff started telling visitors that the palace would be closing soon. I didn’t quite get to visit every last area on the palace grounds but since I would be revisiting Gyeongbokgung in the morning so I didn’t feel bad about that. Coming to Gyeongbokgung at night had let me see what the palace was like after dark and also gave me an idea of how much time I’d need to see the whole thing the next day.