At first glance, it might appear as small or simple in comparison to the other grand palaces in the city, a possible reason why some visitors are encourage to skip visiting in the first place, though I will highly suggest to revise those plan and move Deoksugung Palace on top of your itinerary, for a chance to witness and participate on Korea’s version of the Changing of the Royal Guard ceremony.
During the Joseon Dynasty, the Royal Guards responsibility included patrolling around the palace area and opening and closing of its gates. Today, the reenactment of this specific task and to keep the tradition going is what the Seoul Metropolitan Government wants to showcase on the daily (except Monday) ceremony presentation in front of Daehanmun (Gate).
You have to plan your visit at Deoksugung Palace around the following time- 11:00am, 2:00pm and 3:30pm, to see the actual ceremony and for a photo opportunity afterwards with the royal guards. Take this chance as well to try out the different traditional costumes including “hanbok” for ladies.
This is free of charge, all you needed to do is head to one of the small booth set up in front of the gate, sign up and a Korean volunteer will assist you on costume fitting. If you are lucky you can be the chosen one to participate on the actual ceremony and if not, be inspired on the fact that you are heading home with one great souvenir photo- you on a traditional Korean dress with entourage of royal guards and the beautiful palace on the background.
Deoksugung Palace was built as a temporary residence for the royal family back when the primary palaces were burnt to the ground during the war, thus possibly explaining the compact size and location though both does not limit its charm.
There are four primary hall in Daeksogung- Junghwajeon or the throne hall used for major state fairs, the wooden hall of Seogeodang, Jeonggwanheon, the first café in Korea and Seokjojeon, the one that sets Deoksugung apart from the other palaces for its Western style garden and fountain.