The Throne Hall of Gyeongbok-gung Palace in Seoul has a lofty name based on Confucian principles: "Geun-jeong-jeon," meaning "diligence helps governance"—words for politicians to live by, eh?
Originally built in the 1390s when a new dynasty established Seoul as Korea's capital, this structure was burned in the confusion of warfare two centuries later. Finally, in the 19th century, Gyeongbok-gung was restored, but the massive reconstruction costs of this royal city-within-a-city nearly bankrupted the country. By the end of the 19th century, Korea had become known as The Hermit Kingdom, and its emergence into modernity proved to be turbulent.
Today, the grounds of Gyeongbok-gung are a stately if poignant reminder of the glory days of the Joseon dynasty, and a quiet oasis in the middle of the post-modern Wi-Fi–fueled frenzy of the South Korean capital.
To get to Gyeongbok-gung Palace: Seoul subway Line 3, Gyeongbokgung station.
Open 9-5, closed on Tuesdays.