One name you’ll hear very often in Seoul is ‘Sejong’ – as in King Sejong the Great, 4th ruler in the Joseon dynasty and one of the most prominent Kings in Seoul’s history. He is most well known for his invention of the current Seoul writing system Hangeul, and you can also find him on the 10,000 won note.
It was the day that I visited the Changdeokgung and met my new friend T. After our lunch at Insadong and strolling along the Cheonggyecheon, we ended up at Gwanghwamun Square right in front of the Gwanghwamun Gate of the Gyeongbokgung. Gwanghwamun is less a square and more a strip, and it’s hard to miss due to the throng of tourists.
I liked the imposing statue of Admiral Yi Sun Shin, who had a pretty interesting career as one of the most successful naval admirals ever – go check out his wikipedia page, it’s pretty fascinating stuff. I was fascinated by the fountains and the lovely backdrop of mountains. Gyeongbokgung was built in this location precisely because of Fengshui – Mountains in the back and Water (the Cheonggyecheon) in the front was a position that ensured good fortune.
Further behind Admiral Yi was an underground plaza, the ‘sunken square’ where you can purchase tickets for the Sejong Belt, and there was even a little booth where you could dress up to take touristy pictures.
Then of course the highlight is the regal golden King Sejong statue, sitting benevolently in front of the Gwanghwamun gate. Along with his statue is a plaque commemorating his invention of the Hangeul language, as well as replicas of his other inventions, like the sundial and the rain gauge.
T and I then wandered around the area a bit, and soon found ourselves at the Seoul Museum of History. Now Seoul has lots of museums that sound pretty similar, so we weren’t really sure what this one had to offer, mostly we were just grateful for the aircon because it had been such a warm day.
The most impressive thing about this museum had to be the 1:1500 replica of Seoul City on the 5th level – it’s absolutely amazing. You walk on glass panels around this huge scale replica, and there are 3 levels to observe it from – walking directly over it, a bird’s eye view from a platform, and an eye-level view where you could study the buildings up close. We weren’t allowed to take pix there though.
- Gwanghwamun Square is accessible 24 hrs
- Seoul Museum of History:
- Hours: 9am – 9pm (weekdays), 7pm (weekends)
- Closed on Mondays
- Free entry!
Gwanghwamun Square can be accessed via Subway (Gwanghwamun station, Line 5, Exit 2). The subway is interesting as its lined by some artwork and looks like the walls of the fortress above
Around the area
- North: Gwanghwamun gate is the front entrance of Gyeongbokgung.
- Jogyesa temple is pretty nearby if you want to check it out
- The mouth of the Cheonggyecheon is walkable, look out for the red and blue spiral
- West: Another palace you can visit is Gyeonghuigung, which is right behind the Seoul Museum of History