A new semester has already begun and since I’m in grade 12, I have been busy studying and preparing for my college admissions. Day after day, mundane events have repeatedly occurred, no longer feeling the enthusiasm to engage in any new activity. Seeing this, my family urged me to visit Changgyeonggung, a Korean palace built during the Chosun dynasty, to get some fresh air and energize myself. Although I did not feel like going out at first, the beautiful scenery of the palace made me completely forget about the initial feelings I had.
When I first arrived at Changgyeonggung, I found out that the entire structure of the palace is facing east since, traditionally, a king’s mother was required to live in the east side of the palace so that the king could take good care of her. It was interesting to further absorb information about the beautiful place that simply took my heart away. However, it was sad to learn that, along the course of history, the structures were burnt up by the Japanese after Imjin Waeran(1592), a war that continued for six years due to the invasion of Japan. Moreover, I almost lost my temper upon hearing that the Japanese transformed the palace into a garden and a zoo during the Japanese colonization and was eventually rebuilt in 1984.
|[The spring of Changgyeonggung, taken by Kyeongjin Kim]|
|[Chundanggi, a peaceful and beautiful pond, taken by Kyeongjin Kim]|
[Myeongjeongjeon – The most essential place of the palace where
major official events took place, taken by Kyeongjin Kim]
Moving onto the next, I was surprised by the fact that there were diverse scientific measures that our ancestors had devised to efficiently maintain the condition of the palace. Bakseok, a bumpy road in Changgyeonggung, was designed to reflect sunlight and prevent from slipping when moving around. Underneath the eaves of the roofs of the buildings, Bushi, handmade nets, could be seen everywhere which worked as a tool to prevent birds from building nests. Also, Gwancheondae, a building made out of granite, was utilized by astronomers to acknowledge about the universe, especially about the sky and the changes of constellation. The king could apply this type of information in a practical fashion, so that he could plan precise dates for significant events. Angbuilgu, the world’s first sundial, and the Punggidae, a device to measure the direction and speed of the wind, caught my attention as well, allowing me to feel a sense of pride that our ancestors had manifested great scientific excellence relatively earlier than that of other nations.
|[Bakseok, a bumpy road designed to reflect sunlight and prevent from slipping, taken by Kyeongjin Kim]|
|[Punggidae, a device to measure the direction and speed of the wind, taken by Kyeongjin Kim]|
|[Angbuilgu, the world’s first sundial, taken by Kyeongjin Kim]|
Considering that the place I visited was a palace, I felt that it was essential to take a look at the places where kings and queens stayed and hastened my feet. The main building which was located inside the inner palace, Tongmyeongjeon, was the place that I was exactly looking for; its purpose was to allow the king and the queen to spend time together. The floors of the rooms were consisted of Ondol, a traditional eco-friendly Korean floor heating system. Youngchoonhun and Jipbokhun well illustrated the reality of the royal court. They functioned as personal areas for royal concubines because of the fact that kings had one legal wife and a majority of royal concubines. This explains why they are much smaller than other places in Changgyeonggung.
|[Youngchoonhun and Jipbokhun – The personal areas for royal concubines, taken by Kyeongjin Kim]|
After experiencing a short trip to Chosun Dynasty, I noticed that I was so absorbed into the wonder and delight of Changgyeonggung that I wished the trip would never end. I also admitted that there was a difference between before and after the trip; ultimately gaining the energy to passionately handle the heavy workload at school. Therefore, I highly recommend students who are having difficulties with sustaining their school lives to visit Changgyeonggung and take a step back from the stressful events that they are currently up to. Without any doubt, I’m sure that this trip will bring a bit of vigor into your life.
JinMyeong Girls’ High School
Kyeongjin Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
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