Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Now that I've had a chance to catch my breath (and my boyfriend's had a chance to share some stories from his trip before I could spoil them all), it seemed about time to rewind and post some of the things I've been up to for the past month or so.

My boyfriend's first weekend here we spent checking out various places around the city. Our first stop was Insadong. I really love going there and poking down all the little back streets. It's a much bigger area than just that main drag with all the tourist shops and art galleries and worth spending some time wandering around.
One little gem that the main street does have to offer though is the Toto Museum, which is as random as its name suggests and looks like this:
Essentially, you pay a dollar to look around someone's old basement. Except it's not actually a basement and there aren't any abandoned exercise machines or tool boxes stuffed in the corner. Just lots of toys and board games and action figures and politically incorrect dolls, all sporting a coating of dust. Apparently it's supposed to showcase items that were popular in Korea back in the 60s and 70s (an idea that might have worked) but there is plenty of stuff from every other decade too so really it just looks like a storage space for random junk. I think it's amusing though so we went inside for a look.
 hahaha my favorite!
And obviously they have post cards you can buy so that you can tell all of your friends about the awesome twelve-minutes you spent at the Toto Museum! They also sell valentines with Peter Falk or Farrah Faccett on the front. You know, just in case the years old ramen packets and Spider-Man action figure rocking gym socks and a leotard didn't sway you already.

After Toto we headed to Changdeokgung Palace, a spot I'd yet to visit.
Aw I love this picture haha. Those poor kids and that poor chaperon. Just that look of boredom on every single one of their faces. It was hot and it was a Saturday and they had zero interest in being on this field trip but she's trucking away anyway.
Since basically all the palaces and old structures have these similar designs I've become used to seeing them and the bright colors. Changdeokgung was the first place though that I saw the original paint job that has yet to be updated (or is being preserved). Makes quite the difference.
Trivia of the Day: The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (also known as The True Record of the Joseon Dynasty) are the annual records of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea, which were kept from 1413 to 1865. The annals, or sillok, comprise 1,893 volumes and are thought to cover the longest continual period of a single dynasty in the world. During the reign of a king, professional historiographers maintained extensive records on national affairs and the activities of the state. They collected documents and wrote daily accounts that included state affairs as well as diplomatic affairs, the economy, religion, meteorological phenomena, the arts, and daily life, among other things. These daily accounts became the Sacho ("Draft History"). Great care was taken to ensure the neutrality of the historiographers, who were also officials with legal guarantees of independence.

Nobody was allowed to read the Sacho, not even the king, and any historiographer who disclosed its contents or changed the content could be punished with beheading. These strict regulations lend great credibility to these records. Yet at least one king, tyranical Yeonsangun looked into the Annals, and this led to the First Literati Purge of 1498, in which one recorder and five others were cruelly executed because of what was written in "Sacho." This incident led to greater scrutiny to prevent the king from seeing the Annals. In Later Joseon period when there was intense conflict between different political factions, revision or rewriting of "Sillok" by rival factions took place, but they were identified as such, and the original version was preserved.

The original recorders recorded every words and acts of the king in "Sacho" although not all details were included in the final version. For instance, King Taejong fell from a horse one day and immediately told those around him not to let a recorder know about his fall. A recorder wrote both Taejong's fall and his words not to record it. In another instance, Taejong was recorded to complain about a recorder who eavesdroped on him behind a screen and followed him to a hunt behind a disguise.

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