The Candlelight Revolution in Gwanghwamun Square

It was almost noon as I slowly descended alley after alley of Bukchon Hanok Village. Stepping between traditional Korean buildings seemed to throw me back in time, a time when Joseon Dynasty was enjoying its golden era.

A few moments later, my steps were parallel to Bukchon-ro Avenue section. I casually walked enjoying cool midday air of Seoul while occasionally stopping in several winter jacket sellers. But its price, which was still above 125,000 Won, made me reluctant to stop any longer.

I quickened my pace when the face of Anguk Station could be seen far ahead. But a few steps later, I slowed down my steps, my ears could barely hear Indonesian language from a small shop, four Indonesian travelers were enjoying a dish of Chimaek (a dish of fried chicken mixed with South Korean beer). Their joking fun made me reluctant to greet them but I was able to confirm that they were from the same nation as me.

Entering Anguk Station, I headed straight for the platform. Catching the Seoul Metro to get to Sejongno area immediately. Seoul Metro arrived just moments after I reached the platform.

The Dog…Oops…..

Entering a carriage, I couldn’t hide my chuckle. “Oh, No……”, this Seoul Metro was similar to the old Jakarta’s Commuter “Very funny …”, there were a seller screaming explaining goods they was selling.

That was not enough… there were men quickly walked through carriage after carriage to simply slip business cards between doors, carriage poles and whatever places to put it were possible. “Ohh my God…”, I was even lowering my face I still couldn’t hide my amusement.

That funny moments was closed with another funny scene where train officer combed the carriage to take all business cards which were tucked away before I got off in Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station.

Now, I was changing to Seoul Metro Line 5 to get to final destination of Gwanghwamun Station. Not passing another station, so I quickly arrived at Gwanghwanum Square.

Impatiently stepping the escalator, I tried to get as fast as I could to surface. Arriving at the exit I could only stand frozen, staring at a statue of a legendary South Korean fighter. It was a statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin who proudly stood with a sword grip in his right hand and a suit of armor which covered almost his entire body.

Admiral Yi Sun-sin himself was a Joseon Dynasty era warrior who with his 12 fleet of warships fought Japanese invasion in 23 major battles at sea.

Meanwhile, Gwanghwanum Square used to be one of the most famous royal squares because several royal government buildings were placed around this square.

However, my arrival seemed to coincide with a large demonstration that was remembered as The Candlelight Revolution, a popular protest against corruption scandal which carried out by the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye.

Beberapa tenda demonstran masih tampak tersisa di kiri kanan sisi patung Laksamana Yi Sun-sin. Tetapi itu semua tidak mengurangi rasa antusiasku untuk menikmati Gwanghwamun Square.

Bukchon Hanok Village: The First Destination in Seoul

“Kamsahanida……”, I loudly said to a female cashier in CU Minimarket in that corner. I have finished in eating packaged white rice and cup noodles which made my lips feel hot because of its spiciness.

“Cheonmanneyo …”, that beautiful white cashier smiled while waving when I was in front of glass door and reached its handle.

Coming out of minimarket, I quickly walked towards the gate of Hongik University Station which wasn’t far away, just to left of a bend ahead.

Descending a long escalator swooping down underground, I began to open my own printed plan, then pointed to a point of destination. “I have to go to Anguk Station,” I thought as I folded my plan sheet and put it in my back pocket.

Then I was in platform. By noon, situation in underground station was deserted. Suddenly, a street romance show at the end of platform faded my enthusiasm for waiting for Seoul Metro arrival. A pair of lovebirds seemed to be hugging each other’s waist while looking at each other affectionately. Every now and then that man kissed his girl…. “Oh God….”, my envy feeling appeared. Shows like that really didn’t surprise me because I’ve often saw them in same transportation mode belonging to Singapore or Shenzen city. “Think of it as a travel bonus …”, I thought while wryly smiling.

Their intimate embrace was released for a moment after the sound of Seoul Metro could be heard when coming from right aisle. Seoul Metro softly squeaked and stopped in front of them, they ended their romance and I as the lone that romance viewer also boarded the train.

Seoul Metro Line 2 was pushing away from Seodaemun District heading east. I would travel to Jongno District which was eight stations away and had to change to Seoul Metro Line 3 at Euljiro 3(sam)-ga Station and it would take about 30 minutes.

According to the estimated time, I was now standing in front of Seoul Metro door when the announcer sound said that the train would soon be arrived Anguk Station. After a perfect stop, I jumped out of the carriage which I was already on it since several minutes ago, nothing else memorable after the romance for about half an hour ago.

Exiting Anguk Station, I was faced with Yulgok-ro Avenue. Confidently taking a step to the left led me to an intersection which was bustling with fashion, culinary and cosmetic outlets. Looked like I went to the wrong way.

I stood rooted to a side of Enso monument which was located right in a side of intersection. Enso itself is a traditional calligraphy brush native to South Korea. I observed the behavior of local people who were busy shopping. Meanwhile, several groups of tourists from Europe seemed to be conversing in Tourist Information booth which was located next to the monument. Looked like I had to go to the booth and asked for directions to my destination. I finally walked over to it.

Me: “Hello, Ms. Can I know which way that I need to choose toward Bukchon Hanok Village?”

Her: “Hi, Sir. You can go straight there and then turn left in crossroad. You will arrive in Bukchon Hanok Village with walking about 600 meters”.

Me: “Very clear, thank you, Ms”

Her: “You are welcome. And this tourism map is for you”, she smiled as she handed me a Seoul tourism map.

I immediately headed north. Relaxing a bit while enjoying the bustling streets of Bukchon-ro, I finally arrived at Bukchon Hanok Village in 20 minutes. That cultural village was located in west of the main road.

Notre Dame Education Center in Bukchon Hanok Village.

To my surprise, this was different from Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan which I visited a few days ago. Bukchon Hanok Village featured rows of Hanok (traditional South Korean houses) which were neatly arranged along the contour of pedestrian path. The wood which was part of Hanok building looked shiny and well maintained, the alleys which could only be passed by walking looked neat and clean. This was the residence of Joseon Dynasty-era nobles which were more than six centuries old and were the pride of Jongno District.

In accordance with its nickname as the “North Village”, this village was indeed located to the north of two main icons of Seoul, i.e Cheonggye River and Jongno District.

In addition to functioning as a Hanok preservation, this village also functions as a cultural center, traditional inns, restaurants and a place to drink tea together.

Walking through the interior of village, several female tourists looked elegant in Hanbok (South Korean clothing) in order to walking through this cultural village more solemnly.

A beauty that was stored in Gahoe area, I finally managed to come to it. A classic impression, serenity, silence, full of meaning and cultural majesty I felt very strongly during this visit.