Royal Culture Festival to light up palaces across Seoul
The Cultural Heritage Administration’s grand Royal Culture Festival held its first offline opening ceremony in three years, lighting up Gwanghwamun and hosting a large-scale performance at Heungnyemun Square, inside Gyeongbok Palace on May 10.
The festival, which is jointly hosted by the Cultural Heritage Administration’s Royal Palace and Tombs Center and the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, became a biannual festival last year. This year’s spring edition kicked off last week under the theme “Narye and Yeonhui,” and will run through May 22. “Narye” refers to the rite aimed at warding off evil spirits and “Yeonhui” means performing arts.
To make sure no such pandemic affects the globe ever again, a modern version of a royal court ritual to ward off evil spirits and invite good fortune, known as Gunahaeng, which is based on a poem written by scholar Yi Saek of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), was performed.
Until May 22, a total of 34 programs will be held across five palaces in central Seoul, as well as at Jongmyo Shrine.
The popular meditation program “Simkung, Shuimgung” is back again this year at all five palaces. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the unique experience of meditating on a yoga mat on beautifully maintained lawns inside the palaces while enjoying the cool spring breeze (weather dependent). The program requires you to reserve a seat, but you can join in the meditation on site if you bring your own mat.
If you’d like to participate in a parade, Gunahaeng is for you. Different traditional street art performances such as gilnori, pannori and a tiger dance have been combined with electronic dance music. The parade will start at 11:30 a.m. at Gyeonghui Palace on May 20, at noon on May 21 at Deoksu Palace and at 12:30 p.m. on May 22 at Changgyeong Palace. The parade will go on for an hour.
For those who are still hesitant about being in crowds, the festival has organized five online programs. The artist featuring in the “Palace Beloved by an Artist” is violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill. O’Neill was recorded performing Schubert’s “Du bist die Ruh, D776” at Gyeongbok Palace’s Jibokjae Hall and the video was released on May 10 on the festival’s official YouTube and website.
Unlike previous editions during the pandemic, many programs can be enjoyed without any reservations, though some are still required. For more information, visit www.royalculturefestival.org.
BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [firstname.lastname@example.org]