Seoul Sunday May 2 2010
Today the big thing is the Jongmyo Jerye or Jongmyo Daeje, a parade to reenact the 15th century Joseon dynasty tradition that involves hundeds of brightly costumed citizens and begins at the Geongbok Palace and ends at the Jongmyo Shrine where the royal ancestors of the Joseon dynastyn are honored in this Confucian ritual that is now presented to the public. The event is only held once a year on the first Sunday in May. So we get to see it this first Sunday of May 2, 2010.
We get to Geongbok Palace and meet Chris’s friend Isis who becomes my Korean language tutor for the day. After entering the Gwanghwa Gate to the palace we tour the grounds and get great photos of the buildings and people then stop for tea at a little tea house on the grounds. I have my first cup of Jujube Tea while Cheryl tries Honey Ginger Tea. We then go have a look at couple of other palace buildings before we see a group of archers headed for the parade staging area and follow them in to see the grand assortment of costumed soldiers beginning to file out while horns blare and drums beat sounds as a start to the movement of the massed army. We get our photos of the last group to leave the palace grounds and then hop a subway to get to the Jongmyo Gate before the parade arrives there. Our strategy works and we get a good position to see them all come through the gate.
The parade continues into the shrine, and we follow into it with thousands of other onlookers. Speeches begin and then music and dance as the officials of the shrine conduct their rituals. We bake in the hot sun to see this all before a late lunch and then it is off to Deoksu Palace to see the changing of the guard at 3::30 pm and the retirement of the guard at 4:30. Fortunately Deoksu Palace is close to our hotel via some interesting back streets and we crash about 6 pm.