Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Changing of the Guards: Kyoungbok-gung

The "changing of the guards" reenactment is based on the royal guards of the Joseon Dynasty being posted at Gwanghwamun Gate, which is the entrance to Gyoungbok-gung Palace, the palace from which the king ruled the country. The "changing of the guards" ceremony has been recorded as early as 1469, and the present ceremony is supposed to be based on careful consultation of historical texts.

The reenactment of the historical ceremony was reintroduced in 1996, and the duties of the guards extend beyond changing of the guard ceremonies (three times a day). The guards also reenact sentinel positions as guards to the mighty gate and as visual icons of security to palace life. In full regalia (weapons, colorful uniforms signifying various positions, and other accessories) they even occasionally break up the monotony by holding parades, which I can imagine is a huge relief from standing upright for hours on end and posing with fixed attention while uncountable locals and tourists makes queues to get 'that clever colorful shot'.

Some of the reenactment programs are:
Sumunjang (Royal Guard) Changing Ceremony 10:00, 13:00, 15:00 / three times a day / 20 minutes per ceremony Gwanghwamun Gate Guard-on-Duty Performance 11:00, 14:00, 16:00 / three times a day / 10 minutes per ceremony Sumungun(Gatekeeper) Military Training (outside Hyeopsaengmun Gate)9:35, 12:35 / 15 minutes per ceremony / before and after the guard changing ceremony and the guard-on-duty performance
The performances are held January 1 through December 31, except for Tuesdays. Since these guys are tourist-attracting actors, those wet rainy days when tourists aren't so out and about also result in cancellations.

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