|Gyeongbok Palace Starlight Tour / Courtesy of Cultural Heritage Administration|
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Gyeongbok Palace, the largest remaining royal palace of the 1392-1910 Joseon Kingdom in Seoul, is resuming its special nighttime and royal kitchen tours.
Gyeongbok Palace was the main royal palace of Joseon, built in 1395. Spanning about 433,000 square meters in the heart of the city, the palace has had about 500 buildings over its entire history.
The "Gyeongbokgung Starlight Tour," launched in 2016, features a variety of events to enhance the unique experience.
The tour begins with a traditional music performance at Sojubang, the royal kitchen where meals were prepared for the king.
At Sojubang, "Doseuk Surasang," a modern interpretation of the Joseon king's meal consisting of 12 dishes, is served during the performance.
Guides lead the way to Huwon, or the "Secret Garden," where visitors can stroll through Jipgyeongdang Hall and Hamhwadang Hall. The buildings are open exclusively for the Starlight Tour.
Visitors can also step into the iconic Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, where royal banquets were held. The building is closed off during general opening hours, so the nighttime tour provides a rare chance to enjoy the view from the middle of a lake.
|The Gyeongbok Palace Sisikgonggam program offered at Sojubang (the royal kitchen) / Courtesy of Cultural Heritage Administration|
The Sisikgonggam program offers a taste of ancient royal cuisine accompanied by traditional music and dance.
In the royal court of the Joseon kingdom, five meals ― Chojobansang (early breakfast), Joban (breakfast), Natgeotsang (lunch), Seokban (dinner) and Yacham (supper) ― were served to the king and queen daily.
During the event, "Gungjungyabyeolcham," consisting of porridge, desserts and tea, is served to tour guests. The menu is inspired by "Yadasobangwa," or a table of nighttime snacks for the king.
After the royal snack, a tour of the palace will follow, stopping at major buildings including Gyotaejeon Hall, Gyeonghoeru Pavilion and Geunjeongjeon Hall.
Both events run from Aug. 19 to 31 and are offered twice daily. Reservations are required. Tickets can be purchased online at ticket.auction.co.kr or by telephone at 1566-1369.
All four Joseon palaces, as well as Jongmyo Shrine and the Royal Tombs of Joseon will be open free of charge from Aug. 15 to 17, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Korea's liberation which falls on Saturday, and through the temporary holiday Monday.