The overcast skies finally cleared a little towards the end of the week, sending thousands of fair-weather photographers out in search of subjects. I decided to take a walk round Deoksugung (덕수궁/德壽宮; lit. moral life palace), a small palace complex right in the middle of the city. Originally a mere royal residence, it was built in the late 15th century, destroyed and rebuilt several times and finally designated a main palace in 1897 before being downgraded again a mere ten years later. It’s unusual in that it contains both traditional wooden Korean palace buildings, stone Western-style buildings (built in 1910 during a modernisation push) and some “fusion” structures. This amalgamation of ancient and modern proved quite interesting – there were squeaky-clean modern art installations next to faded wooden pavilions and skyscapers looming over the whole site.
The area around Deoksugung is also quite interesting – the British Embassy is right around the corner (charmingly signposted as the Embassy of Her Britannic Majesty), the strikingly Romanesque Anglican Cathedral actually overlooks the site (though I couldn’t climb the bell tower), the colonial-style City Hall was just over the road until they knocked it down and replaced it with a big steel jelly mould, there are a few excellent museums and the other palaces are a short walk away.