Just a dose of color to remind you that the world wasn’t always as desolate as it appears now.
These shots are from a few months back, when I stopped by Jongmyo to catch the scrubbing and polishing of the ritual dishes. I also bumped into a flying squirrel and caught a last glimpse of fall colors. The course that I had previously mentioned on this site — heading across the pedestrian bridge to Changgyeong Palace — has now been shut down. I guess the days of the old two-fer are gone for good.
In days long past, I was concurrently enrolled in three Korean classes of varying levels at the YBM main branch across the street from Jongmyo, so surprisingly I share a long history with this park — best known for being the hoppingest haunt for elderly Korean men this side of the Han. After finishing class, I came over here almost every day to pour over my books in the shade of one of the many towering trees. Unfortunately, back in those days, the park was also ground zero for anti-American demonstrations so I often found myself turned away by cops in riot gear and protesters with pickets that read “Go home yankee!” Anyhow, a trip here will leave you feeling as if you just opened a window and peered into the Korea of yore.
Getting there: Take Line 3, 5, or 1 to Jongnosamga Station. You’re there!
This park is temporarily closed for renovation.
Here’s a video of the Birdman doing his thing: The Birdman of Jongmyo
The Jongmyo shrine was built in 1394 under a directive from the first ruler of the Chosun dynasty, King Taejo. That structure was burned to the ground (along with everything else) by the Japanese during the invasion of 1592. The wooden building you see today was built in 1601. The shrine’s purpose was to house the spirit tablets (shinju) of deceased kings and queens. Jongmyo and the Sajik shrine (to the gods of soil and grain) were considered the most sacred sites in Chosun-era Korea.
Getting there: Take Line 1, Line 5, or Line 3 and get off at Jongno-3(sam)ga Station. Walk through the Jongmyo Citizen’s Park to the main gate.