Palace Royal Guard Changing Ceremony
The Palace Royal Guard Changing Ceremony in Gyeongbokgung Palace has been held as a traditional cultural event representing the royal guards of the Joseon Dynasty since 2002. Joseonwangjosillok (Annals of the Joseon Dynasty) describes the Palace Royal Guard in 1469 (1st year of King Yejong’s reign). Reconstructed from the record, the ceremony focuses on restoring the costumes and weapons to reproduce vividly what soldiers looked like during the early Joseon.
The Palace Royal Guards in Joseon were first recorded in the 7th year of King Sejo’s reign (1462), but they were merely temporary employees. It was during the first year of King Yejong’s reign when the guards began to be appointed officially. Originally, both the Palace and the Royal Gates had been protected by Hogun after the reorganization of the Central Army and establishment of Owi Dochongbu (Five Military Commands Headquarters). When King Yejong ascended the throne and guarding the Palace was becoming increasingly important, however, the Palace Royal Guard was founded, resulting in the subdivision of the way to protect the Palace. The Palace Royal Guard’s duty — protecting the Palace and its entrances — was most closely related to the safety of the Palace and was consequently considered markedly significant. To be appointed as Palace Royal Guard, military officers whose positions were at least Seoban 4 Pum must be recommended by Byeongjo (Ministry of War) and subsequently chosen by the king. The Palace Royal Guard was officially legislated in Gyeongguk Daejeon (National Code), wherein the guards not only protected the Gates but also managed passersby with the use of national certificates and took responsibility for keeping the keys to and opening/closing the Royal Gates when the king left the Palace.