South Korea

Guard at Seoul Royal Palace

Photo Essay: Guarding Seoul’s Royal Palace

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Gyeongbokgung Palace; Seoul, South Korea

This menacing-looking fellow is dressed in traditional Korean garb from the Joseon Dynasty, which dates back to the 14th century.  He’s guarding the main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace in downtown Seoul, the city’s most popular tourist attraction.

Seoul Royal Palace

 Gyeongbokgung Palace in downtown Seoul

This particular day in Seoul happened to be sunny but bitterly cold, with a wind chill below zero.  As warmly as the guard was dressed, I don’t know how he stood there without shivering.  I don’t think I even saw him blink.  Perhaps his eyelids were frozen.

Six days a week the guards at Gyeongbokgung at least get to walk around and get their blood circulating every hour for an elaborate changing-of-the-guard ceremony.  But this particular day happened to be a Tuesday, the one day of the week when the show does not go on.

So this gallant guard – with his colorful costume, ancient weapon and glued-on facial hair — had to stand still in the freezing cold all day while tourists like me snapped his picture.

After about 10 minutes of photographing him and his fellow guards, I had enough.  My fingers started to get numb from the cold and I scurried inside a nearby building to warm up.

As for the guard, he remained at his post protecting the palace — and probably fantasizing about a cup of hot tea.

Copyright © Dan Fellner 2013