The name means “palace greatly blessed by heaven.” But its history would say otherwise.
Gyeongbok Palace, one of Seoul’s most iconic structures, has been restored twice — and for good reason.
South Korea is a country with a rich and complicated history. And the palace, which is the best symbol of what its people have endured, is tucked between the skyscrapers that dot Seoul’s skyline.
“This palace [is] actually a symbol of Korean spirits and Korean identity as well,” said tour guide Kiheon Ho.
Built by the Joseon dynasty in 1935, the architecture is breathtaking.
“If you see the buildings, it looks like [a] smooth curve of corner lines. Looks like the smooth curve of wings of a bird,” Ho said. “That is the beauty of Korean architecture.”
The Japanese burned the palace down again during the colonial period. But once again, the Koreans rebuilt it in 1990.
They also brought back the changing of the guard ceremony — a tradition that began with the Joseon dynasty.
“So that is the thing we have to preserve: our tradition with the ceremony,” Ho said.