Changing Ceremony of The royal guards in Gyeongbokgung Palace

Changing_Ceremony_Gyeongbokgung14

Address 12, Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Location Gyeongbokgung entry is located 22 Sajik-no, Jongno-gu. The nearest subway station is Gyeongbokgung Station (Station #327 on Line 3).Excit No4

Phone +82-2-3210-1645

Date(s)Ongoing

  • Period for The Gate Guard Changing Ceremony opening Daily 10:00 / 13:00 / 15:00 (Tuesday Closed) 15minutes
  • The Gwanghwamun Gate Guard Duty Performance Daily 11:00 / 14:00 / 16:00 (Tuesday Closed) 10minutes

Closed  Tuesdays

Winter Season (Dec – Feb): On days when the temperature is -10℃ or lower, the changing of the royal guard ceremony maintains full scale presentation, however the number of guards on watchguard duty may be reduced.

Summer Season (July – Aug): On days when the temperature is 30℃ or higher, the changing of the royal guard ceremony maintains full scale presentation, however the number of guards on watchguard duty may be reduced.

Bad Weather (Heavy Rain or Snow): The changing of the royal guard ceremony may be cancelled while the duty of guarding the palace gates will continue to be carried out at Heungnyemun (Gate).

Gallery     Click photos to enlarge.

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History of the Ceremony

During the Joseon Dynasty, the royal guards were responsible for guarding and patrolling the gates of the capital city and the royal palaces. The royal palace guards, who were known as the “WanggungSumunjang”, had the very important duty of protecting the king by guarding the entrance gates of the primary royal palace where the king resided. They were in charge of opening and closing the palace gates, inspecting all visitors, and maintaining a close surveillance of the palace. They were divided into day and night shifts, and the Changing of the Guard ceremony took place whenever the shifts changed over.

In the early period of the Joseon Dynasty, the Changing of the Guard ceremony was conducted at Gyeongbokgung (Palace) as at that time Gyeongbokgung was the primary royal palace and the king then resided there. However, in the late period of the Joseon Dynasty when Gyeongbokgung was burned down during the ImjinWaeran (Japanese Invasions of 1592 – 1598), Deoksugung was made the primary royal palace and the Changing of the Guard ceremony was then conducted at Deoksugung.

Reenactment of the Ceremony

After some extensive historical research, this splendid and elegant traditional Korean royal court cultural ceremony was first re-enacted in 1996 and has been a must-see among Seoul’s tourist attractions ever since. This ceremony is a great opportunity to experience a rare traditional scene in Korea, as the ceremony is reenacted exactly as it used to be held, with guards wearing royal uniforms, carrying traditional weapons and playing traditional instruments. A tradition comparable to the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, this ceremony takes place three times a day in front of Gwanghwamun, the main gate of Gyeongbokgung (palace) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (except for on Tuesdays).


Ceremony Procedure

1. The first drumbeat signal sounds and the relieving guard unit mobilizes towards Gwanghwamun Gate.

2. The second drumbeat signal sounds and the relieving guard unit moves outside of Gwanghwamun Gate, and the chief of the relieving guard unit and the chief of the guard unit on duty perform an identification check.

3. The chief of the relieving guard unit orders his unit to take their positions at the gate and the relieved guard unit mobilizes to the inside of the gate.

4. The third drumbeat signal sounds and the chief of the relieved guard unit orders his unit to exit the vicinity.

Ceremony Participants

Sumungun

Position: Keeper of the Royal Palace Gates
Duty: Responsible for guarding the palace gates

Sumunjang

Position: Chief Keeper of the Royal Palace Gates
Duty: In charge of guarding the palace gates and commanding the Sumungun

Sujongjang

Position: Deputy Keeper of the Royal Palace Gates
Duty: Daejonggo (Management of Large Bells and Drums)

Jongsagwan

Position: Lieutenant to the Chief Keeper
Duty: Assistance to the Chief Keeper, and management of the gate book

Gapsa

Position: Armed Guardsman
Duty: Guarding the palace gate

Jeongbyeong

Position: Regular Guard
Duty: Private soldier of the Joseon’s central army

Daejol

Position: Subordinate Soldier
Duty: Sentry of the palace gate

Jeollugun

Position: Jeollugun
Duty: Delivery of time for the royal court

Chwita

Position: Military Band Musician
Duty: Member of a royal military band

 

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