I believe that in order to fully experience Korea, you must go visit the provinces, experience the culture and see what Korea could offer to tourists other than Seoul. However, as I explored this country from the Northernmost City of Paju to the Southern cities of Busan, Pohang and Gyeongju, I realized that Seoul is an epitome of Korea’s best. Well, how could it be the Capital City of this country if it does not really represent the best of Korea? I can be oblivious to the beauty of Seoul since I’ve been to this city for a hundred times already, but what really reminds me of its awesomeness and what really convinced me that it is indeed the best city of this country is the happy memories that happened to me during my several visits to Seoul. But just like in a contest, there should only one that has that X Factor, the one that stands out among any others, and if I have to choose the happiest one, it should be that time when I wore the Korean Traditional cloth called Hanbok during a tour in Seoul in a cold Winter day.
|In front of Gyeongbokgung Palacee|
It was January 2014 when a Hanbok Rental shop in Seoul contacted me to try out their Hanbok for free. Since I am a lover of freebies, I dragged some of my friends and challenged them to wear a Hanbok while roaming around Seoul. Don’t get me wrong, Hanbok is a beautiful piece of clothing, I always admire its details, I salute the heart behind the makers of every Hanbok, and I have high respect for Korean national dress. However, as a foreigner, it would be an unusual or unique experience for us to wear that and go commute in the subway and visit several tourist spots in Seoul during winter. It was such a humbling and awesome experience for me. The Seoulites in the subway were smiling at us as if we got their respect for wearing something that is important for them.
My heart leapt for joy as Koreans in Seoul were giving us a nod of approval as we walked along the Gwanghwamun Square wearing the Hanbok. For me, it was the best way to engulf in Korean culture while enjoying the happy ambiance of Gwanghwamun Square. The Hanbok we wore did not protect us well against the cold weather, but we braved it because we don’t want to spoil the experience. For several occasions that I met the statue of King Sejong, I felt like I was connected even more to the founder of Korean alphabets when I took the photo in front of his statue with my Hanbok.
|Meeting King Sejong on my Hanbok|
In front of the Gwanghwamun Square stands the glorious and majestic Gyeongbokgung Palace. I told my friends that we must go enter the palace while we were on our Hanbok, and I tell you, it was a different kind of experience. It was not my first time to enter Gyeongbokgung, but I felt ecstatic to tour the palace in a Hanbok. We went to different corners of the palace and pretended as if we were in the Joseon Dynasty. We imagined we were traveling back in time and that we actually live in that palace. It was so much fun, and it’s an understatement.
|Pretending as if I'm in the Joseon Dynasty at Gyeongbokgung Palace|
The best part of my happiest day in Seoul was when we went to the Bukchon Hanok Village after our tour at Gyeongbokgung. As much as we would like to move on with our time traveling set up, the village reminded us even more of ancient Korea as it showcased the traditional houses of Korea. It’s actually an actual village with all the houses called Hanok preserved from the Joseon Dynasty. It’s a tourist spot but it’s actually an actual village. We visited every single corner of this village, tried some of the street food in the area and took some photos to capture our happy moment as we enjoyed our stay in the village.
|Showcasing the beautiful Hanbok|
And then it snowed. I guess it was the most awesome way to end the most awesome day in Seoul. The white flakes falling from the sky made that day even more memorable. We may not had the warmest clothes during that time, but the warm greetings of Seoulites helped us survived the cold. I have some more happy moments in Seoul, I could still even make happier moments in the future, but so far, when I think of Seoul, I think about that day. It was an adventure, an experience, and most of all, the happiest memory.