Late spring and early summer in Seoul: musicians in medieval clothing infuse the grounds of Gyeongbok Palace with a sense of its storied past.
Built in the 1390's when a new dynasty established Seoul as its capital, Gyeongbok-gung ("The Palace of Shining Happiness") was a city unto itself. In the 1590's, in the chaos of the Japanese invasions, the palace was burned and lay largely in ruins until the 19th century. The reconstruction almost bankrupt the kingdom, and then the grounds were the scene of the assassination of Korea's last empress. During the Japanese colonization (1910-1945), eighty-five percent of the palace compound was either destroyed or dismantled...
The last two decades have seen a remarkable period of revival and rebuilding. Today about forty percent of the palace has been restored. With colorful concerts, tea-ceremonies, and the changing of the guard, this palace is shining once again.
Years ago, during a summer staying with relatives, I had visited Gyeongbok-gung. Two decades later, it was such a treat to revisit the Palace, renewed, and with a 'live soundtrack.'