Sunday, January 23, 2011

Seoul: Changing of the Guards - Asian Style

When you hear the phrase “Changing of the Guards”, what comes to mind are guards in red military shirts marching in front of the Buckingham Palace. Now let’s change that picture and go nearer into a country in Northeast of Asia where you can find chinky-eyed men in traditional garb doing the “Changing of the Guards” ceremony in the land of Samsung appliances – South Korea!

Be transported into the Korea of the Joseon Dynasty as you watch a re-enactment of the ceremony of the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony in front of the ground of Seoul’s famous palace which is the Gyeongbokgung Palace. There are two ceremony that lasts for 20 minutes and additional four more ceremony that lasts for 7 minutes. Men wearing colorful traditional Korean clothing will come marching into the front of the palace grounds accompanied with the beat of the drum. The men will parade and conduct the ceremony of changing the sentry duty.  As a tourist most of the time one can get preoccupied snapping the souvenir photos here and there, my advice snap some few shots of the actual ceremony and just observe and soak in the experience since after the ceremony you will have a lot of time to get up close with the “guards” for you take your souvenir photos.Once the ceremony is finished the new sentries will stay for quite some time and they can be approached (but I think you cannot touch them – I’m not sure though because I never dared to touch them) and photographed.

If you are pressed for time or you just want to explore one palace in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung will be your best bet.

Leave Details:
Place: Gyeongbokgung Palace
How to get There: Take the Metro to Gyeongbokgung Station – take Exit 5
Special note: Gyeongbokgung station is like a metro station/mini museum as there are small exhibits displayed within the station.
Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm : Wed to Mon,   9am – 7pm: Sat to Sun
Schedule of Changing of the Guards: 10 am and 3 pm (20 mins. ceremony), 11am,12nn,1pm,2pm (7 mins.ceremony)
Fees: Watching of the Changing of the Guards – none
Palace entrance – 3000 KRW

Disclaimer: Fees and schedule as of March 2010

1 comment:

  1. cool! I hope to visit Korea and see that. I saw the changing of guards in Thailand's Grand Palace and it was cool, didnt know they have those rituals that they conduct before they change the guards.