Jongmyodaeje 2018: Korea’s Royal Ancestral Ritual on May 6

About Jongmyo Shrine


Located on the east of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Jongmyo is a Confucian shrine of the Joseon Dynasty that was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in 1995. During the Joseon Dynasty, the royal ancestral rituals were carried out to honor the deceased kings and queens here. Comprised of  Jeongjeon (Main Hall), Yeongnyeongjeon (Hall of Eternal Peace) and Gongsindang (Hall of Meritorious Subjects), Jongmyo is where royal spirit tablets are enshrined until today.

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If you visit Jongmyo Shrine, you will see a building that has a long, horizontal roofline and a wide frontal facade. Look how beautiful and elegant it is!

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The original structure was built by King Taejo in 1395. However, it was destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion in 1592. What you see in the photos is the new shrine that was built in 1608.

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Previously, Jongmyo only referred to Jeongjeon, the main hall. After the death of King Jeongjong, however, additional space was needed for royal ancestral tablets. In 1421, Yeongnyeongjeon was built to accommodate them. Today, Jongmyo refers to both Jeongjeon and Yeongyeonjeon.

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About Jongmyodaeje (Royal Ancestral Memorial Rite)


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Jongmyodaeje (종묘대제)‘, or Royal Ancestral Memorial Rite, is a traditional Korean ritual that takes place every year on the first Sunday of May, to commemorate the past kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty.

Travelers and tourists shouldn’t miss this ceremony because it is the only ceremony in the world that is preserved almost in their original forms. It will be a golden opportunity for you to witness the traditional ritual that has been carried out for more than 500 years since 1464. Mark May 6 on your calendar right now! 😉

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Each procedure of Jongmyo Daejae, also known as ‘Jaerye’, is accompanied by ‘Jaeryeak’, a ritual music performance played with traditional instruments, and Ilmu, the Royal Ritual Dance performed by 64 female dancers. Jaerye is conducted in the order of greeting, serving, and bidding farewell to the spirits.

The most well-known part of the ceremony is Eogahaengnyeol, which is a royal parade that proceeds across the heart of Seoul, from Gyeongbokgung Palace to Jongmyo Shrine. There will be plenty of spectators, which means you will have to get to the parade route early if you want to see this fabulous parade!

Major Events

  • Yeongnyeongjeon Jehyang Rituals
  • Eoga Haengnyeol (Royal Parade)
  • Jeongjeon Jehyang Rituals

To check out the exact time and the sequence of the events, click here.

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Photo Credits
Jongmyo Jerye(종묘 제례) via photopin (license)
Jongmyo Shrine via photopin (license)
Jongmyo via photopin (license)
Jongmyo Shrine via photopin (license)
Jongmyo_Shrine_Sanmangjeon_16 via photopin (license)
Jongmyo_Shrine_Sanmangjeon_24 via photopin (license)
Jongmyo_Shrine_Sanmangjeon_23 via photopin (license)
Chilgungje_20141027_04 via photopin (license)
Jongmyo_Concert_20150926_13 via photopin (license)
Jongmyo_Shrine_Sanmangjeon_20 via photopin (license)

2 comments

    1. Hello Jerry! We recommend you visit Jongmyo, the main venue of the event, if you want to see the ritual. You can find directions and map via the link: https://www.trazy.com/spot/118/. The royal parade called ‘eogahaengnyeol (어가행렬)’, which proceeds Gyeongbokgung Palace to Jongmyo Shrine is the most well-known part of the ceremony and so you may want to see the parade and head to Jongmyo to see the ritual. Hope this answers your question! 🙂

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