A Joseon royal parade winds its way from Sungryemun Gate to Gwanghwamun Gate, in Seoul on April 30. The reenactment of King Jeongjo’s return to Seoul takes place amid cheers from passersby.
By Hur SomEe and Sohn JiAe
Photos = Jeon Han
April 30, 2017 | Seoul

Central Seoul saw a royal procession of Joseon court guards wind its way from Sungnyemun Gate toward Gwanghwamun Gate on April 30.

It was a reenactment of a Joseon royal parade for King Jeongjo (정조, 正祖) (r. 1776-1800), the 22nd Joseon monarch who played a major role in restoring and reforming central government power.

At 2 p.m., in heat that felt like the middle of summer had already arrived, guards in royal dress readied their march in front of the gate, a sight that attracted shoppers and tourists from the nearby Namdaemun Market, taking out their smartphones and cameras to capture the moment.

Thirty minutes later, music from the chitadae instrumental orchestra (취타대) resonated across Sejong-ro Street, the main boulevard that cuts through Jongno-gu in downtown Seoul, as the parade began. Along the route were spectators watching the magnificent attraction in awe.
A Joseon royal parade in downtown Seoul on April 30 reenacts the return of King Jeongjo to Seoul. Behind the parade stands Sungnyemun Gate in the background, which used to mark the southern edge of the Joseon capital.
As the parade reached Gwanghwamun Gate on its final leg, the people who had tagged along with the procession created a huge crowd around the gate. Inside the gate, a demonstration of the guards’ martial art, siyeyeolmu (시예열무), ensued, giving those gathered another awe-inspiring moment.

“The martial art -- siye for short -- used to be demonstrated for the king,” said Director Ahn Seok-keun from Cpost that organized the event. “Today’s performances here demonstrate how the martial arts of the royal guards were verified and inspected in Joseon times,” he said.
As a reenactment of a Joseon royal parade takes place in Gwanghwamun Square on April 30, King Jeongjo calls for the guards to demonstrate their siyeyeolmu martial art skills.
A demonstration of the martial art siyeyeolmu that was performed by Joseon court guards takes place in front of the king, as the reenactment continues in Gwanghwamun Square on April 30.
As a Joseon royal parade brings to life ancient times in Gwanghwamun Square on April 30, visitors from both home and abroad watch the guards perform their martial art moves that used to be demonstrated in front of the Joseon king.
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