The largest and grandest of Seoul's several ancient palaces is Gyeongbokgung. Sadly though, much of the Palace is less ancient than you might think. Much of the palace was destroyed by the Japanese colonial efforts prior to the Second World War. Quite a bit has been restored and rebuilt though, and the whole thing is very impressive.
We were lucky enough to arrive right at the height of a ceremonial changing of the guard. What most interested me was the military bands horns, they sounded a lot like bagpipes without the bags! The colorful flags and costumes where perfect for setting the mood as we got ready to explore the palace.
This particular building was one of the few left standing, and was built as a party pavilion. I can see the appeal, with the lake side location and gorgeous mountain views. Sadly, I don't think it is being rented out anymore.
What was being rented (for free) were costumes. Wear a guard costume, and experience Korean Culture. Or just horse around and pretend to be in a fighting game. We had a lot of fun in our allotted time, and a great many very goofy photographs were taken.
The general architecture and layout of the palace was very interesting, East Asian for sure, but still unique. The basic layout reminded me of a smaller scale Forbidden City, though far less elaborate in color scheme than China tends to be. In fact, it was like much of Korea seemed, a bit of a halfway point between Japan and China. Which, geographically at least, it certainly is. Poor Korea was caught between those two quite often throughout the years.
The grounds of the palace also contained a museum of Korean history and culture that was very well done. I learned a lot about a country that I must admit I have often overlooked.