Gwanghwamun Square

Saturday, 13 February 2016

With our stomachs full from lunch, the next stop on our itinerary was Gwanghwamun Square (광화문광장), a huge public space that stretches from the beginning of Cheonggyecheon Stream (청계천) to the entrance of Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁) and is close to 20,000m² in size. (I'm still in awe at how big it was in real life!) Reigning from 1418-1450 as the 4th ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, King Sejong (세종대왕) is probably one of the most respected kings in Korean history. So whenever you're watching, hearing or reading about Korea, his name will bound to pop up somewhere. For me, I've seen his statue countless times on variety shows, dramas and YouTube videos, so it felt surreal seeing it in person for the first time. I remember being stunned by the size of it because it was much bigger than I had imagined. (FYI, the statue stands at 9.5m in height.)

King Sejong was also the one who invented the Korean alphabet, Hangul (한글), to reduce the illiteracy in Korea so when you're in the Square, don't forget to take a look at the tactile paving because the government even imprinted the Hangul chracters on each bump in King Sejong's honour! If you're interested, there is an exhibition hall conveniently located underneath the King Sejong's statue, called The Story of King Sejong (세종이야기), which has on display some of the King's most notable contributions to the development of Korea as a nation. However, what I liked most in the exhibition hall was the Hangul Gallery because it had some really beautiful artworks of the Korean alphabet (of course) and even a Hangul chair.

For someone who's used to being crowded by tall buildings and narrow roads, I loved Gwanghwamun Square. I felt so free just standing in the middle. Though, I wished we spent more time there because I don't think I even have a proper photo of Admiral Yi Sun Shin (충무공 이순신), who was a naval commander most noted for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Japanese invasions. The Square is not a landmark that requires you spend a lot of time at, but it's not a place to be missed. In fact, I would suggest going twice because the Square gives off a different vibe in the daytime and at night time.

Gwanghwamun Square (광화문광장)
172 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울 종로구 세종대로 172



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