Palace Royal Guard Changing Ceremony
The Palace Royal Guard Changing Ceremony at Gyeongbokgung Palace has been held as a traditional cultural event since 2002 to reenact the royal guard changing procedure that occurred during the Joseon Dynasty. Based on the records of Joseonwangjosillok (Annals of the Joseon Dynasty), which describes the implementation of the Palace Royal Guard System in 1469 (1st year of King Yejong’s reign), the ceremony focuses on presenting the uniforms and weapons to provide a glimpse into the appearance of soldiers during the early Joseon period.
The Palace Royal Guards in Joseon were first recorded in the 7th year of King Sejo’s reign (1462), but these were merely temporary employees. It was during the first year of King Yejong’s reign that the guards began to be appointed officially. Originally, both the palace and the royal gates were protected by Hogun after the reorganization of the Central Army and the establishment of Owi Dochongbu (Five Military Commands Headquarters). When King Yejong ascended the throne and guarding the Palace became increasingly important, however, the Palace Royal Guard System was founded, resulting in the subdivision of the ways of protecting the Palace. The Palace Royal Guard’s duty, which was primarily to protect the palace and its entrances, was most closely related to the safety of the royal family and was thus considered markedly significant. To be appointed as a palace royal guard, military officers with a position of at least seoban 4 pum had to be nominated by the Byeongjo (Ministry of War) and were subsequently chosen by the king. The Palace Royal Guard System was officially legislated in Gyeongguk Daejeon (National Code), which stated that the guards not only protected the gates but also controlled access with the use of national certificates and took responsibility for keeping the keys to and opening/closing the royal gates when the king was absent from the palace.