Monday, January 18, 2010

Gwanghwamun Plaza - A Fun Place (Part 1)

Gwanghwamun in 2007

The locals simply call it Gwanghwamun. The word itself is the name of the main gate to Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace), the largest palace built in the Chosun Dynasty. The gate faces one of the largest main streets in central Seoul with the prominent statue of Admiral Yi Sun Shin staring solemnly upon the millions of cars that rush by.

The statue and a handful of trees were the only barrier between the 12 or 14 lane street until the city decided to greenify and beautify Seoul's downtown. Major renovations were carried out. Last year a long vertical plaza showed up smack in the middle of that big street and workaholic Seoulites in the area suddenly had a place to hang out during lunch break.

Streams of water dance in front of the honorable Admiral. In the summer, kids run merrily through the water shoots to stave off the heat while parents try fruitlessly to discourage them.

This winter the city opened a skating rink (which had been set up at the City Hall Plaza in prevoius years); one for skating and the other for traditional ice sledding. Korean ice sleds are made from flat wood boards with the rider using two icepicks to maneuver the sled around. As the rink here was catering for children, there were very few kids moving themselves about. Their poor parents were doing a lot of pulling.
It was good to see that safety measures were being strictly followed, both kids and parents were wearing helmets.

Rink cleaning time! Before the zamboni appeared.

The kids were having a blast. I wanted to take a longer video clip but didn't want the parents to freak out at having a stranger film their kids so just took a short one.

Information about the Ice Rink (Korean, English, Japanese)

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