A couple weekends ago (yikes, it’s been a while), I had an inadvertently moon themed day.
It started with a visit to delightful and quixotically named Moon Bird Thinks Only of the Moon, a traditional Korean tea and dessert house.
Located in Insadong, the tea house serves some of the best Korean traditional teas and desserts in Seoul. Its interior is tiny, chaotic, but somehow still inviting, perhaps because it seems to evoke a much older Korea. There was nothing artificial or overly constructed- I really felt that I was visiting a place from a bygone area.
And the tea was wonderful.
I ordered the citrus tea. It was completely devoid of acidity, but still had that zinging lemony taste, like the best kinds of lemon bars. The desserts were rice based Korean delicacies- one that tasted like a milder Rice Krispy treat and the other tasted like honey. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
That night I visited Changdeokgung castle for the popular night tour and art exhibition. The event was actually sold out, so I had to be snuck in through the employee entrance (thanks Jong-in!).
Every year the castle opens its impressive grounds at night to the public. In addition to the gorgeous architecture and cherry blossoms, there are art installations scattered throughout. The two exhibitions this year were both created by teams of Korean artists, and they both involved coordinating different types of art- sculpture, music, media art and even collage.
The installation above was beautiful- glowing LED light balls floated on the surface of a pond. The lights would brighten and dim seemingly randomly, as ethereal music played overhead. Actually though, the lights were programed to respond to the frequencies in the music- certain lights had certain frequencies and their light would adjust according to what they could “sense” from the music.
The second installation, “Floating Memories” was Jong-in and his team’s and it focused on the history of the palace. Three enormous glowing “moons” were constructed in a clearing.
All of those tiny specks on the surface of the moons are actually historical pictures of the palace, Seoul and the Korean people from various eras. In an adjacent kiosk, the pictures were displayed in detail, so I could actually pick a section of any of the moons and see what pictures were displayed there.
Because they were moons, they also waxed and waned. Through an unbelievably complicated bit of programming, they followed the cycles of the actual moon backwards, from now to when the palace was constructed in 1405.
The art was eye-opening and the palace itself was wonderful, but it didn’t take long to see why the event had sold out- young Koreans are fixated on dating, and what is more romantic than a beautiful palace at night? As I strolled around the grounds, I couldn’t help noticing how many young couples were cuddling up on benches and making out in the bushes. They say that spring is coupling season in Korea, and I have to agree…