Experiencing the Royal Culture of the Joseon Dynasty

Back in May, I was told about a month-long class that explored the royal culture of the Joseon Dynasty, being the nerd that I am it was of course of interest to me. I applied but I apparently applied too late and so I kept on being deferred month after month until this month (September). yeay!

So the things that I learned from the first class:

  • One of the Joseon kings asked eligible girls what was the prettiest flower, several girls answered the usual rose, lily, etc. One girl answered the cotton flower because it gives clothes to people, needless to say, she was chosen to be his queen.
  • The King was forbidden to read the annals about himself. The first emperor of the Joseon dynasty tripped while hunting and was embarrassed. He immediately ordered that no one tell the royal scribe, but it was too late, the scribe already knew. It was said (there was a saying) that the Kings of Korea were only afraid of death and the scribes’ pens.
  • There was an extremely long list of things that King Sejong is credited with inventing or giving creative room for it to be invented by others, including the first water clock; the sundial; the donguibogam, the best Eastern medicine textbook even in today’s medical world.
  • Joseon stressed serving your parentsĀ  and elders (even more than today’s society) very carefully both in life and the afterlife through sacrifice.
  • Artists didn’t draw the bodies of the king or the crowned prince, instead symbols like white tents, birds, and other animals were used.
  • Since the sun is the center of the universe and the emperor was the center of the people’s lives, he wore yellow robes. The king and the queen wore red robes, and the crowned prince and princess wore blue.
  • Also the direction north symbolized the emperor.

After the lecture, we made “natural” soaps using traditional herbs (chamomile or rosemary), scents (lavender or lemon), and colors (our table had strawberry (red) and mint (bluish green)). Then an extremely brief look around the National Palace Museum of Korea, a share and tell (what symbols did you see in the museum and talk about a symbol of your country), and a quiz over the day’s events and lectures.

my handmade rosemary lavender mint soap

my handmade rosemary lavender mint soap


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