2015 Seoul

July 1 - our first day Seoul city tour began with a morning visit to Jogye-sa or Jogye Temple 曹溪寺 - Daeungjeon, the main Dharma Hall, at the center of Jogyesa Temple... ... Daeungjeon (Main Dharma Hall), housing the magnificent golden statues of Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha and Bhaisaiya Buddha; these golden statues measuring in at some 16 feet tall... ... temple holds the Jogyesa Lotus Lantern Festival every year around June celebrating Buddha’s birthday when the courtyard of the temple is decorated with colorful paper lanterns... ... me in front of the 50 ft tall 10-storeys octagonal stupa rebuilt in 2009 from the original 7-levels stupa constructed in 1930 housing the sarira (relic of Buddha) brought here by a monk after it was given to him by the royal court of Thailand... ... behind me are pots of lotus and the 500 years old baeksong (lacebark pine) tree standing next to Daeungjeon; the Korean government designated this baeksong tree as a Natural Monument in December 1962... Jogyesa Temple, located at heart of Seoul city center. ... after the driving tour passing by the outskirt of Blue House (Cheongwadae) 青瓦台, arriving at the National Folk Museum of Korea, situated not far away from the presidential residence of the Republic of Korea... ... let's check out the museum, a gateway to a deep understanding of the life, culture and folk history of the Korean people from ancient times to the end of the Joseon Dynasty... ... an exhibition of the Korean traditional wedding ceremony... it's interesting that they have to highlight the cheeks of the bride with two big red dots... ... at the museum courtyard, statues of a set of imaginary guardian figures standing in a circle - head of each of the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac on the body of a traditional Korean guard...
... National Folk Museum of Korea, constructed in the traditional Korean style comprising several storeys with a pagoda on top, museum established in 1924 with three permanent exhibition halls and an open-air exhibition area... ... a yundo (compass invented during the Joseon dynasty) placed in the center of the circle of animal stone signs, and a samtaegeuk (symbol of the harmonious combination of yin and yang) patterned on the circular ground surface... ... National Folk Museum of Korea 國立民俗博物館, a museum representing the daily life and culture of Korea, its present site (former National Museum building) opened in 1993 said to be visited by more than 2 million people every year... ... a traditional Korean house on display at the courtyard of the National Folk Museum, museum located within the grounds of the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Jongno-gu, Seoul ... let's all leisurely walk over to the Gyeongbokgung compound, shall we? Gyeongbokgung or Gyeongbok Palace 景福宫 - the main Royal Palace built in 1395, three years after King Taejo founded the Joseon Dynasty and moved the capital from Gaeseong to Seoul (then known as Hanyang)... ... with Mount Bugak as a backdrop, Gyeongbokgung located in northern Seoul, the largest of the five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon dynasty; Gyeongbokgung served as the home of Kings of the Joseon dynasty, the Kings' households, as well as the government of Joseon... ... standing in front of Geunjeongmun or Geunjeong Gate, the main entrance to the Throne Hall Geunjeongjeon 勤政殿... are you able to see a tiny corner of the blue roof of Cheongwadae? ... the royal guards of Joseon Dynasty in their traditional uniform-costumes, the re-enactment of the original 1469 Guard Changing and Guard-on-Duty performances began from 1996 in front of Gwanghwamun 光化門...
... me with the Sumunjang (Chief Keeper of the Royal Palace Gates in charge of guarding the palace gates and commanding the Sumungun)... ... me with a Sumungun (gate keeper responsible for guarding the gates)... Namsangol Hanok Village 南山谷韓屋村 at the northern foot of Mount Namsan just a short distance southeast of Gyeongbok Palace, construction of the village park began in December 1993 and opened to public in January 1998... ... the traditional village park situated in the area of Pil-dong neighborhood in Jung-gu, a central district of Seoul, established to provide an opportunity to experience a wide cross-section of Joseon-era citizenry and activities, from royalty to commoners... ... a collection of five hanoks (traditional Korean houses) from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) recovered from different parts of the city and relocated here, with great effort made to accurately furnish each dwelling with appropriate era and social status appointment... ... one hanok being the house of Yun Taek-yeong, father-in-law of the 27th king or last emperor of Joseon dynasty (King Sunjong or Emperor Yunghui, reign 1907-1910)... ... the jaesil (study) of the hanok complex belonged to Marquis Yun Taek-yeong (father of Queen Yun (1894-1966), queen consort of King Sunjong)... ... traditional Korean houses (hanok) are environment-friendly establishments as they are built with materials readily available in nature such as wood, earth, stone, straw, clay (for ceramic roof tiles), and paper... ... another beautifully restored hanok belonged to Marquis Park Yeong-hyo, son-in-law of King Cheoljong (the 25th king of the Korean Joseon Dynasty reigned 1849–1863)...
...  'jangdokdae' earthenware and a small traditional straw shed displaying at the hanok of Marquis Park Yeong-hyo, son-in-law of King Cheoljong (the 25th king of the Korean Joseon Dynasty reigned 1849–1863)... ... 'jangdokdae', an outside area or "storage platform" usually found directly near the kitchen of traditional Korean houses where a series of pots and jars are gathered; sunshine and ventilation are key aspects in the location choice, so that foods can be preserved and kept fresh, well-preserved ingredients may stay for several years in the jars. ... mind your head - this pathway gate-door intended for shorter kids in the old days? ... one restored traditional house for commoners being the hanok by Lee (Yi) Seungeop, a master carpenter who worked on rebuilding and restoring Gyeongbokgung Palace in 1867... ... very spacious kitchen area with a water-well and cooking furnace-kiln... ... a long pathway in between the separate building-rooms and garden courtyard of the hanok complex... ... the beautiful Cheonugak pavilion and pond at Namsangol Hanok Village park, a great example of the charming and blissful life of the people who once lived here... ... traditional craftwork exhibit at the Village of Traditional Houses in the Namsan Valley... ...  silly me in hanbok, how do I look? Hanbok literally means Korean clothing, today often refers specifically to clothing of the Joseon period and is worn as semi-formal or formal wear during traditional festivals and celebrations.
... five restored traditional Korean houses, a pavilion, a pond, cafe and souvenir shop, even a time capsule (commemorating Seoul’s 600-Year Anniversary buried in 1994 and scheduled to be opened four hundred years later in 2394) all located between modern skyscrapers at this Namsangol Hanok Village N Seoul Tower, located atop Namsan (Mount 'South') at 797 feet marking the highest point in Seoul city center... ... a photo of me inside the observatory tower before circling around for a 360° view of the city... ... they are showing the distance (from Seoul) and how far away are these international cities - Toronto is some 6666 miles, Chicago-6620 miles, San Francisco-5671 miles... ...  Korea's version of "Locks of Love" at the tower plaza roof terrace, mimicking Pont des Arts (the world's most famous love locks pedestrian bridge in Paris over river Seine)... ... a picture of me with the "Locks of Love" ... me in front of the "I LOVE YOU" heart sculpture... ... hello there - two happy 'dolls'...  me and the graffitied figurine of Seoul’s symbol Haechi, an imaginary creature that helps realize justice and enhance safety and happiness... N Seoul Tower
Namdaemun Market and Namdaemun (South Great Gate)... Namdae-mun 南大門, officially known as Sungnye-mun 崇禮門, the south main gate of the city walls built around the capital in the Joseon dynasty, designated as National Treasure No.1 in 1962. Good Thursday morning from the picturesque neighborhood of Gahoe-dong (gahoe in Korean meaning joyful meeting) at Bukchon... ... Bukchon (northern village) also known as "the street museum in the urban core”, residential area consisting of the neighborhoods of Gahoe-dong, Jae-dong, Samcheong-dong, Gye-dong, Wonseo-dong in the city center Jongno central district... ... Gahoe-dong Bukchon residential area used to be an exclusive neighborhood for noble families, scholars, and high-ranking officials during the Joseon dynasty... ... I'm so happy whirling along the beautiful serene narrow twisty sloping alley, Gahoe-dong Bukchon... ... welcome to my house at No. 9, please come in to have a cup of tea... Jungjidang (pond) in Jongmyo Shrine, the island of the pond with its juniper tree symbolizes the sky and the square shaped wall surrounding the pond symbolizes the earth; Jong-myo Shrine, a royal shrine dedicated to the performance of ancestral rites for the deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty, the place where the royal ancestral tablets are enshrined... ... Jeong-jeon, the main hall and most important structure at Jong-myo Shrine where the royal ancestral rites are performed...  Yeongnyeongjeon (Hall of Eternal Peace) built in 1421 under King Sejong when Jeongjeon could no longer accommodate any more spirit tablets, facilities and layout of Yeongnyeongjeon similar to those of Jeongjeon yet smaller and more intimate...
... 'sillo', the long dark-grey color south-north passageway (for spirits of royal ancestors) at the center of the stoneyard platform, starts from the main gate of Jongmyo and leads to Jeongjeon (main hall) and Yeongnyeongjeon (Hall of Eternal Peace)... ... as backdrop, Yeongnyeongjeon with its south gate and Akgongcheong (court musicians pavilion) - Jongmyo Shrine, on the east side of the royal palace Gyeongbokgung, the oldest and most authentic of the Confucian royal ancestral shrines with a unique spatial layout preserved in its entirety, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. Injeongjeon or Injeong Hall, the throne hall of Changdeok Palace 昌德宮... ... Changdeokgung (Changdeok Palace), also known as Donggwol (Eastern Palace) because of its location to the east of Gyeongbokgung, built in 1405 by King Taejong (third ruler of Joseon) as a secondary palace to the main palace of Gyeongbokgung... ... Injeong-mun (gate), the center gate entrance from the outer courtyard leading to the main complex Injeong Hall... ... Sukjang-mun, one of the three gates standing at Injeongjeon outer compund, gateway passage leading to the Seonjeongjeon-Hujeongdang-Seongjeongak vicinity, and to the entrance of the secluded Huwon Secret Garden... ... Jinseon-mun (gate), the smaller inner and second entrance gate leading to the Injeongjeon compound from Donhwamun of Changdeokgung ... Donhwa-mun (gate), the main entrance gate to Changdeokgung Insa-dong 仁寺洞 -  a popular neighborhood in the heart of Seoul often visited by locals and tourists...
... one main road with multiple alleys on each side in the quaint neighborhood of Insa-dong, an important place where old but precious and traditional Korean art, products and other souvenirs on display... ... a fascinating and creative neighborhood filled with antique shops, art galleries, traditional stationery, handicraft, pottery and porcelain shops, bookstores; also home to many traditional restaurants, teahouses and modern fashion boutiques and cafes... ... photo of me in front of Tongmungwan, said to be the oldest bookstore in Seoul... ... a traditional stationery store at Insa-dong... ... the 23-ft artwork "Draw a Stroke" (a black brush with a stroke of ink) at Insa-dong square... ... itchy ah, a good scratch on my back with the brush tip please... Daehanmun or Daehan Gate, the main gate of Deoksugung (Deoksu Palace), located across the street west of City Hall Seoul Plaza Seoul Metropolitan Library, a Renaissance-style stone building built in 1926 as the Seoul City Hall, the government building transformed into a public library in 2012, in front of the current modern City Hall building me at Seoul Plaza, N Seoul Tower as backdrop...
me at Seoul Plaza, the new and old City Hall in the background... ... water fountain at Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall... ... Yeoboseyo (a Korean word used to call someone’s attention as ‘hello’), this ‘yeoboseyo’ artwork dedicated to the Seoul Citizens Hall opened in 2013...  Seoul City Hall ... the footbridge connecting the two 'City Hall' buildings said to be linking the past and future of Seoul Plaza Noryangjin subway platform ... I'm hungry... ... may I dig in? ... fresh yummy scallop... ...  ahjumma look-alike
I don't look like having a big full round tummy, don't I? ... ladies and gentlemen, the Noryangjin Fish Market or its official name Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market ... footbridge connecting the fish market to Noryangjin Station... nicknamed the 'golden tooth' Hanhwa 63 City overlooking the Han River behind me... ... isn't it obvious we're the only tourists commuting in this Seoul subway car? Korean War Veterans Memorial, Imjingak... Imjingak, located approx 31 miles northwest of Seoul, a village-park on the southern bank of Imjin-gang (river) established in 1972; home to a number of exhibits, monuments, sculpted artworks and shrines related to national division, the Korean War and national reunification... ... Imjingak Peace Bell Monument  - erected at the end of 2000 to welcome the new millennium, ‘bell of peace’ representing the peace of mankind and unification of the Korean nation... ... Freedom Bridge, the only bridge crossing the Imjin River and the only one bridge connected between South and North Korea, takes its name from the return to freedom of 12,773 prisoners of war in 1953 in the first exchange of POW after signing of the armistice agreement that ended Korean War... ... Steam Locomotive at Jangdan Station of the Gyeongui Line, bombed during the Korean War
... me at the observation deck on the rooftop of the 3-storey Injingak building...  Freedom Bridge, Imjin River and the surrounding ecological area known as PLZ (Peace and Life Zone) as background... ... DMZ Imjingak resort in Paju city of Gyeonggi-do (province) DMZ Third Infiltration Tunnel located at Gunnae-myeon township of Paju city 33 miles northwest of Seoul, tunnel detected in 1978... ... we already finished the tunnel spelunking...  no camera, no phones, no bottle water allowed in the tunnel walkway, all personal belongings must be put in the lockers... ...  the emergency cart not needed to rescue me out of the tunnel... ... could you imagine somewhere behind me there's a mile-long some 6.5 ft in diameter incomplete tunnel  running through the bedrock at a depth of about 240 ft below ground? ... happy together... ... artwork sculpture 'Unifying Earth' in front of the DMZ pavilion... let's push harder to reunify the split divide... ... DMZ pavilion adjacent to the Third Infiltration Tunnel, the small museum onsite telling the history of DMZ and the secret tunnels discovered in the area...
... mock-up of of the third blockade inside the arch-shaped tunnel (discovered at the penetration point after the northerners dug some 3900 feet from North Korea until the Military Demarcation Line and approx 1430 feet into South Korea), let's get closer as the second barricade is visible through the small window. Dora Observatory situated in Paju city at the northernmost point of the Military Demarcation Line, first opened to the public in January 1987... ... the Observatory, on the South Korean side of the 38th parallel situated on top of Dorasan (Do-ra Hill) in Gunnnae-myeon of Paju, tourists can view the North Korean propaganda village in DMZ and as far north as the city of Gaeseong (Kaesong)... ... background is the Peace and Life Zone (PLZ), the vast stretch of lush biodiverse eco-land protected from human disturbance and left untouched for more than half a century in DMZ... ... Jeon-Jin Temple at Dora Observatory, praising the heroes of the 'south nation' who sacrificed themselves to protect for the peace of Korean Peninsula and free democracy during the Korean War... ... standing guard by my humvee... ... me ready to hop onto my tour bus... Dorasan Station located less than a linear mile to the southeast of Dora Observatory, a railway station on the Gyeongui Line being the northernmost stop on South Korea's train transit line... ... no train is coming, please take a photo of us at this station platform... this train station first opened as a tourist attraction in April 2002...
... north direction to Pyongyang, 205 km or 127 miles, and south direction to Seoul, 56 km or 35 miles from this Dorasan DMZ train station... ... station became well known at home and abroad as a place of an aspiration for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula and world peace, and drew world attention when former ROK President Kim Dae-Jung and US President George W Bush visited here in February 2002... ... it's said that Dorasan station now being the first station toward the North, not the last station from the South... ... this northernmost train station located some 2300 feet from the southern boundary line of DMZ, said to contain the southerner's dream to advance their transportation network onward into China, Siberia and even into Europe via Pyeongyang... ... this concludes the family photo gallery of our 2015 Seoul journey - thank you for browsing - until next time, 'annyeong' !