Royal Nuptials: Wedding Bells To Ring Again For Monarchs

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Royal Nuptials: Wedding Bells To Ring Again For Monarchs

About 100 years ago in Korea, four wedding suits cost the equivalent of 100 million won (about $77,000). But these were not any ordinary wedding outfits. They were exclusively for the royal family of the Joseon Dynasty.

On Saturday, Unhyeon Palace in Anguk-dong, Seoul, will display those historically re-created garments in public while about 1,000 people are going to take part in a revival of the royal marriage ceremony of King Gojong and Queen Myeongseong, the next-to-last emperor and empress of the Joseon Dynasty. Since October 1996, this royal wedding, or garye, has been performed for the public to much popularity.

Normally the whole garye process took about three months, mobilizing up to a few thousand people. Obviously, Saturday's performance will be abbreviated, but there is still much to see.

The garye begins with a march by the royal band. Afterwards, the people in Byeolgung, the queen's temporary house, formally receive the king's marriage proposal. During the king's marriage period, no other marriages were allowed.

The king's clothes, called myeonbok, depict dragons on shoulders, mountains on the back, the Sun and the Moon, fire, flowers and insects on the sleeves. These embroideries symbolize his regality, wisdom, bravery, justice and stability.

The crown was similarly decorated. Several lines of beads dangle from the front to block the king's vision, and cotton padding covered his ears.

The queen's robe is called a jeok-ui, and is made up of 24 sections, including the underwear. Unlike the king's blackbased clothes, this costume is brightly colored in hues of red, gold and blue. The front features 51 pairs of embroidered phoenix.

Ryu Song-Ok, Kim Kyung-Sil and Sung Hi-Jun from the Department of the Fashion Design at Sungkyunkwan University were responsible for creating the costumes. Mr. Ryu is known for re-creating historical Korean costumes and chairs the Research Institute of Royal Costumes.

Some people today might think that the kings. contemporaries were eager to be a queen or have their daughters become queen. However, people were afraid to be selected because of the intense political pressures on the queen's family.

Admission is free of charge and English translations will be available. At the end of the ceremony, you can have your picture taken with the performers. For more information, call 02-766-9090.

by Kong Seo-hee

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