Did you know Korea is the birthplace of taekwondo? Gold stars for you if you did. Despite having this nugget of knowledge buried in my brain I never actually went out in search of more insight about the martial art until I ran across a promo for a demonstration happening at Gyeonghuigung Palace.

Taekwondo

Never one to pass up a free demonstration I immediately made plans to attend. The event is held every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. The palace in question sits next to the Seoul Museum of History between Seodaemun and Gwanghwamun subway stations.

On the particular Saturday I decided to attend the weather was unseasonably hot for spring. The grounds resemble all of the other palaces you may have seen: ornate colorful woodwork in reds, blues, greens and yellows combined with intricately carved statues. I arrived early. I wanted a good spot. I didn’t know whether to expect huge crowds or a few spectators.

The demonstration area consists of a sea of bright blue mats that mirrored the sky overhead. Flaking the demo area sat two white tents billowing in the breeze. An army of plastic chairs set up before the mats waited eagerly for an audience. In the backdrop loomed the main hall of Gyeonghuigung Palace giving the scene a sense of majesty and purpose.

I took a seat in the front row, fidgeting with my camera to figure out the proper settings. It didn’t take long before more people drifted in. Husbands and wives pushing strollers, families herding their little ones, a group of giggling students, sun soaked tourists, and me waiting for the show to begin.

The crackle of a loudspeaker silenced the crowd. After a brief introduction in Korean, English, and Japanese the first performers took to the stage. A ragtag lot of tiny tots strode on stage. From their stone faces  and high pitched shouts you immediately sensed there wouldn’t be any mugging for applause or attention. These kids meant business.

After the children performance the main event began. A cadre of female drummers in traditional garb took to the floor and began to pound out a thumping heavy beat. Dancers in flowing robes soon joined them, followed by the martial artists in an opening number than mixed dance and taekwondo in an effortless display. The cultural demonstration isn’t  just a series of moves it’s a historical reenactment.

Check out the video at the bottom of the page.

1. Taekwondo Cultural Performance
Period: March 21 ~ December 2007
Time: 14:00~15:00, every Wednesday to Saturday
Venue: Gyeonghuigung Palace

2. Taekwondo Experience Program for Foreigners
Period: March 21 ~ December 2007
Time: 3 times a day, 6 days a week (except Monday), takes 90mins.
Venue: Gyeonghuigung Palace

In addition I learned they perform several different performances. So if you go back you may see something totally new.

This post was written by

Brian Dye – who has written posts on Kiss My Kimchi.
I’m a blogger, writer, and teacher. I’ve been working in South Korea’s ESL field for the last three years. My one year contract has unexpectedly turned into a journey that I’m still on and loving.

Email  • Facebook