Deoksungung Palace is located near Seoul Plaza a short walk from the City Hall station. After our Chicago inspired lunch we headed to the palace specifically to see art currently on display at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art that is within the palace grounds.
The exhibit is over now, but the Korean artist, Lee Jung Seob’s work can be found all over Korea. He’s a famous oil painter who no matter what situation he was in, continued to produce art, even at one point when he was unable to purchase supplies would scratch out art on the foil found in cigarette packets.
The exhibit was put together for the 100th anniversary of his birth, he however passed away in 1956 at the age of 41. His art is very well-known in Korea, having been brave during the Japanese rule by making art that expressed the very Korean spirit that was trying to be crushed, as well as having continued to make joyful art that “laughed at the harshness of reality”. Photos weren’t allowed, but the art had plenty of English around to explain the title’s or description of what we were looking at and to explain his life and his misfortunes. Even some of his famous bull paintings were amongst the collection that my friend greatly enjoyed seeing in person.
The museum is in a western style building within the palace grounds. It was a bit shocking to walk past the traditional buildings and stumble upon these. The other building having a history of the palace grounds and these buildings in the basement.
The palace grounds were peaceful, with plenty of people taking their time, sitting on the space around the palace buildings and just enjoying the day. Deoksugung Palace is closed on Mondays and offers a couple special events like the changing of the guard (11:00, 2:00. and 3:30) and Bosingak Bell Ringing Ceremony that usually happens at noon.