It’s Hangul day today (Sun Oct 9) so we went over to Gyeungbokgung (palace) where there were some events taking place. In front of the palace is a statue of King Sejong (left) along with some of his inventions and there were plenty of people around taking photos of each other under the statue. The hangul museum is here too and today there was a hangul writing event and foreigners were also encouraged to write their names and countries for the wall display. (see below)
When we arrived at the palace we had missed one of the events which was the re-enactment of the Joseon 과거 kwago exam (for upper class yangbang who wanted to become government officials). This exam was held at the palace and yangbang would travel from all over the country to sit this exam. When this exam is portrayed in sageuk dramas (I remember seeing it in the MBC drama Heo Jun) the candidates sit in rows on cushions in the palace grounds and write with brushes on large paper on the ground in front of them. Although we missed the actual exam, (i was disappointed about that) the cushions were still out when we got there and there were a couple of ‘yangbang’ still writing. (I like their modern shoes, rucksack, and hat!)
Then we went over and had a look at the reconstruction of King Sejong’s 집현전 chip-hyeon-chon within the palace grounds where the king and his scholars created hangul. (see below) After this project was completed, the building was used as a place for the king to study. This building is not usually open to the public but it was open today specially for Hangul Day so we took our shoes off and wandered around inside. The building has several rooms separated by paper sliding doors (see left) and a corridor that runs all the way around the outside of the rooms. There was a small exhibition inside with information on the history of hangul. The floor and ceiling in this building were especially interesting – the floor in some of the rooms was made of specially treated paper. And the ceiling was decorated with paintings of flowers and Chinese characters.
Throughout the day there were also musical performances and dancing. And even opportunities for tourists to try on traditional hanboks. It was a lot to take in as we spent quite a bit of time in the hangul museum as well – but I’ll save that for another post.