22 January 2011

Cribs: Seoul Edition

Waddup yo?  This is your boy, King Sejong.  You know how I do.  Welcome to my country: "Kingdom of Great Joseon".  And I've got a real treat for you today.  You didn't think I'd only have one palace did you?  Or two?  What am I?  Japanese?

Do you have your own statue in front of your house?  I didn't think so.
I've got 5 Grand Palaces.  That's right.  Count 'em.  FIVE.  I ain't clownin around.  Granted, some of 'em were built after I died, but I'll still be taking you on the tour.  They don't call me King Sejong the Great for nothin.  Oh, and we'll be swinging by my boy's place over at Unhyeongung during the tour too.  See how he's kickin' it.

So you've already been stupefied by my main palace, Gyeongbokgung, but sometimes a man has got to clear his head.  So let me take you on a tour of the places I go to sit back, relax, and sip a little soju in the sun.

Let's start things off at Changgyeonggung ( 창경궁 ), or as we call it in the hood, "The Palace of Flourishing Gladness".  I built this one for my pops (King Taejong) in 1418.  Now personally, I call this place Suganggung, but King Seongjong decided to to be a hater and change the name to Changgyeonggung. But the real haters in this story are the Japanese.  They got no respect.  So back in 1592, a hundred years after Columbus sailed the ocean blue, I was forced to bid my beloved palace adieu.  A certain somebody from Japan, and ya I'm lookin at you Hideyoshi, felt the need to invade my country and destroy my palaces.  There's a little bad blood between us to say the least.  But not to worry!  Built this place right back up in 1616.  And you wouldn't believe what the Japanese did next.  They invaded my country. Again!  I really don't like the Japanese.  In 1911 these guys added a zoo to my palace.  Yes, a zoo.  Then they had the balls to downgrade it from a palace to a park.  Have I mentioned that I hate the Japanese?  We finally got rid of the monstrosity that was that zoo in 1983 and since then my fellow Koreans have been restoring this place to its former beauty.  So let's take a step through Honghwamun and I'll show you around.

Checkin out Honghwamun
Walkin straight through my main gate brings us to Myeongjeongjeon. I like to throw some pretty crazy banquets up in this place.  You know, you know. 

Party room!
On the left up here we got Munjeongjeon.  This is the place I go to actually get a little work done.

Check out those 5 peaks.  You know I got that royal authority.
There are some other cool places to chill here, but let's head out back.  I've got a pretty ballin backyard.

View of Myeongjeongjeon
Taesil of my great-grandson, King Seongjong.  Don't even ask what it is.  Let's just say my family's weird.
The Japanese built the Great Greenhouse.  Don't tell anyone, but I kinda like it.
Alright yo, let's head out the back gate and we'll swing on over to Changdeokgung ( 창덕궁 ).  I like to call this place the "Palace of Prospering Virtue".  My old man started building this palace in 1405. Of course those #@!%*& from Japan burnt this beauty down in 1592.  Please pardon my French.  Or should I say Korean.  Or, I'm actually speaking in English.  I don't know, but those Japanese really bring out the worst in me.  Anyway, this became the official royal residence when we rebuilt her in 1610 and the King and Queen chilled here till Gyeongbokgung was finally redone in 1872.  The Japanese messed up the place again when they occupied Korea.  They apparently partied a little too hard and destroyed seventy percent of my buildings.  Not very courteous guests if you ask me.  So let's wind our way through the grounds till we get to Daejojeon, otherwise known as "no man's land".  This part of the palace belongs to my queen.

My lady's place.  Don't worry, my house is bigger.
Next we'll swing by my house, which is known as Huijeongdang.

Like that paint job?
The throne hall to the left, Seonjeongjeon in front of ya, and my place on the right.
And now on to the crown jewel of this palace.  Injeongjeon is my pride and joy.  My throne hall. 

A little intimidated heading down this path?  I hope so.
Heading out of Donhwamun to mingle with the commoners.
Okay.  Let's check in on my boy, King Gojong AKA the Gwangmu Emperor AKA Jaehwang AKA Myeongbok AKA Myeongbu AKA ...  Basically, this man's gotta lot of names.  Cause he's a ballaaaa.  He lives down the street in Unhyeongung ( 운현궁 ).  It ain't considered one of the Grand Palaces, but he's doing alright for himself.  This is the youngest palace in Seoul and didn't get that title until 1864 when King Gojong took that throne.  He actually grew up here and became King when he was 12 years old.  12 years old!  I guess he was kinda like the Justin Bieber of Korea. His Dad ruled in his place for a couple years until he was ready to lay down the law.  Unfortunately, my man died at the hands of ... drum roll please ... the Japanese.  Who else?  Well I shouldn't say that as a matter of fact.  It ain't proven they killed him.  But he just so happened to die after he was put into confinement by the Japanese.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  Well let's check out his crib.  I'll be honest wit ya.  This place ain't nothin compared to what I got.

Let's see if my man's home.
Well, hello sir.
Here we are at King Gojong's house, which he calls Irodang.
Now I'm gonna take ya for a ride in my dragon chariot.  Ya, those are 28 inch spinners.  You know how I do.  We gonna head downtown to Deoksugung.  You can check out Gyeongbokgung on your right during the drive.

My own, personal body guards at Gyeongbokgung
Pretty cool how City Hall is right across the street from this next palace.  Deoksugung ( 덕수궁 ) went up in 1454, but it wasn't until King Seonjo moved here during the Imjin War (those Japanese) that it became an official palace.  I love the name.  You know, "Palace of Virtuous Longevity".  This is one place that the Japanese actually didn't destroy during the war.  But it wasn't quite as lucky when the Japanese decided to invade again in the 20th century.  Only one third of my buildings are still around.  So here it is!  Check out my front gate and then we'll head inside.

Pretty grand entrance at Daehanmun, don't ya think?
Let's make a right and we'll head on over to Seojeodang.  My boy, King Seongjo kicked it here for a while after the Imjin War.

Nice place, eh?
Here we got Jeonggwanheon.  King Gojong, or should I say Emperor Gojong, put this one up in 1900.

Doesn't quite go with the rest of my place, but Gojong seemed to think it was a good fit.
 We'll round out this tour by headin over to Junghwajeon and Gwangmyeongmun.

We in Seoul! 
Gwangmyeongmun.  Check out my ballin water clock on the right.
Peeking at Junghwajeon through Junghwamun
These guys keep me safe at night.
We gonna finish this tour off right.  Let's roll on over to Gyeonghuigung ( 경희궁 ), otherwise known as the "Palace of Serene Harmony".  This is the baby of the Grand Palaces.  This one was built in 1620, which means one thing.  The Japanese couldn't destroy it when they invaded in 1592!  But don't worry, they got around to it when they came back the next time.  And then they built a Japanese school on the site.  Talk about a slap in the face.  This place only has a third of her former glory, but she'll have to do. 

Come on in!  Just head right through Heunghwamun.
Wish you had a throne?
Or at least a crazy ceiling?
Hope ya had fun on the tour.  How could you not?  These are palaces we talkin about here.  Not 50 Cent's mansion.  Although that place is pretty amazing to be honest.  But anyway, it's been real yo.  This is your boy K to the G King Sejong sayin I'm out.

Original completion dates of Seoul Palaces
1392 - General Yi (later to be known as King Taejo) dethrones King Gongyang and assumes control
1393 - King Taejo renames the country the "Kingdom of Great Joseon" and begins the Joseon Dynasty
1394 - The capital is moved to Hanseong, which is modern-day Seoul
1395 - Completion of Gyeongbokgung (Constructed from 1394 - 1395)
1412 - Completion of Changdeokgung (Constructed from 1405 - 1412)
1418 - Completion of Suganggung (Later to be named Changgyeonggung)
1454 - Completion of Deoksugung
1483 - Suganggung is expanded and its name is changed to Changgyeonggung
1620 - Completion of Gyeonghuigung
1864 - Completion of Unhyeongung (not one of the Grand Palaces)


  1. sweet palaces bro. the japanese are such dicks

    p.s. what are the odds you buy a kia or a hyundai when you get back home

  2. Haha, well I won't be looking to spend a lot of money on a car when I get home, so it's certainly a possibility.

  3. I'm pretty sure they called Stringer Bell's crib the "Palace of Virtuous Longevity" too in the Wire.