Sunday, March 15, 2009
Gyeongbokgung Palace and its 21st Century Neighbors
According to its official Web site, Gyeongbokgung Palace was constructed in 1395, three years after the Joseon Dynasty was founded by Yi Seong-gye. After the completion of its main royal palace, the dynasty moved from Gaeseong to Seoul and it was named the "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven."
With Mount Bugaksan to its rear and Mount Namsan in the foreground, Gyeong-bokgung Palace remains at the heart of this 21st century metropolis. It is a city within a city.
We arrived there after taking a short walk from our hotel to the subway line. Along the way we walked past the local offices of Deloitte Consulting – only business students would want to have their picture taken in this location.
We saw other familiar brands along the way, including a Dunkin Donuts, Starbuck’s, Outback steakhouse and a 7/11. While students are here to learn about a different country, they also are comforted by seeing some familiar names.
Well maintained by the South Korean government, Gyeongbokgung Palace’s immense size and scope was both impressive and exhausting to all of us.
Our visit began with the highly choreographed maneuvers of a changing of the guard. It concluded with a visit to the National Folk Museum. Comprised of more than 300 buildings, Gyeongbokgung is located on more than 4.4 million square feet.
After dinner over noodles and dumplings, we continued walking throughout this modern city, taking in its vibrancy and streets filled with shoppers and many well-dressed people.
A good night’s sleep is expected for everyone in our group. Tomorrow, our business visits will begin with a tour at Hyundai.