I always enjoy reading a book that is set in a location that I have visited before. This week I have been reading The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble. The book is set in Seoul, South Korea. The book is interesting as it is set in both the 18th century and also the present. The specific location of the 18th century portion of the book is the palace know as Changgyeonggung. The book starts by telling the story of the Crown Prince Sado and his wife. An interesting story of palace politics and intrigue.
When I was in Seoul in January 2005, I was able to visit this palace. The palace complexes in Seoul are large in area and have multiple buildings.
Here is an example of the architecture of the buildings in the complex. I love the lines of the roof and the coloring of the buildings. Here we see an interesting play of light and shadow from the Winter sun.
There are many passageways between the different buildings of the complex. This one shows some of the decorative details. They are so colorful.
I love the mix of colors. The Greens and Reds are so striking in their contrast and the details of the flowers are very interesting. I can just imagine the characters in the book walking down one of these passageways.
Another interesting place is the main courtyard. It is here that the mentally unstable Crown Prince Sado was ordered by his Father to be sealed alive in a rice chest. He died eight days later.
In the main courtyard are a series of stones. These stones are called pumgyeseok. Each of the stones are inscribed with the rank of an official. The officials would line up behind the stones during formal ceremonies. I can just imagine the officials lining up behind these stones as they were read a proclamation denouncing the Prince before he was sealed inside the rice chest.
History comes alive when you read Historical Fiction, especially if it is somewhere where you have visited. I also enjoy visiting places that I have read about, but that is a different story :-).
The passageways are amazing. And, I’d never heard of pumgyeseok until I ready this post. It’s interesting how different cultures have different protocols for formal ceremonies.
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