30.12.04

The King's Road

While in Seoul, Kristina and I have been able to take in a few of the more cultural sites. By far the one I enjoyed the most was the guided tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was beatiful to look at in the first place, but having things so well explained, and getting all the little details makes it a much better experience. Among all those things we learned, we were told about the king's road. Starting right from the entrance, the pathway through the middle of the palace grounds (which, incidently, goes right through the 4 most important buildings of the Palace. The ceremony hall, the kings office, the king's house, and the queen's house) is divided into three sections. The middle section is elevated and, as you probaly guessed, this is the king's road. Civil officers walk on the right, military officers on the left. What struck me about this were several things. I was walking on a road that, for hundreds of years (the entire Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), only kings had ever strode on. How different things are now than the previous two thousand years, here and all over the world.

Today we might regard it as silly to seperate out a road for a king; indeed, the tour guide and most of those on the tour exhibited a glibness and carelessness as they to walked on this rode. However, we are not so different. We simply have a new rationalization for our seperations; money. I am currently writing this from the executive lounge of a very nice hotel in Seoul. You can't get here with position, a title, reputation or the right jewelry; but you can with money. We think so little of the past, in terms of effort and time, as well as our attitude towards it, and yet we continue walking with it, holding it closer than we realize.



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