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Seoul's Changgyeong, Gyeongbok palaces open for nighttime

2013/10/12 | 687 views | Permalink | Source

Traditional Korean lanterns lit simultaneously at Changgyeong Palace in Jongno district at 6:30 p.m. on October 1, 30 minutes ahead of its first nighttime opening this autumn. The lamps brightened up at the main entry Honghwa Gate to Myeongjeong Gate, and to Myeongjeong Pavilion. People lined up long outside at the ticket office to buy tickets.

A father visited the palace with this son, and pointed out to Myeongjeong Pavilion, saying, "This is where King lived". He said, "I work in Jongno but it is the first time that I visited Changgyeong Palace. I came here with my family to enjoy nighttime scenery and because I thought it would be a good history and cultural experience for my child". On the way east to the Chundangji Lake, couples were either walking hand in hand or with baby in stroller. The lights stayed bright on the pathways to the 6,400 square meter botanical garden located on the north of the lake.

The Cultural Heritage Administration began opening Changgyeong Palace and Gyeongbok Palace between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. starting October 1. The former will be open on October 1-13 (excluding October 7) and the latter October 16-28 (excluding October 22).

Since 2010, Changgyeong and Gyeongbok palaces had been opened to public for five days every spring and autumn with no restrictions in the number of visitors. However, in May this year, safety accidents occurred when a massive number of visitors flocked in, while some were found laying mats on the ground and eating food. Starting this year, the administration limited the number of visitors to 1,700 for Changgyeong Palace and 1,500 for Gyeongbok Palace, while extending the number of days for nighttime opening to 12 days, respectively. It also placed voluntary guides from companies and civic groups for maintenance of order and safety.

People visiting Changgyeong Palace on Monday stayed in orderliness. However, some parked their cars in front of no-parking areas outside the palace. Thanks to visitor number restriction, there has been no case of injury or eating and drinking since October 1. A mother who came with her daughter said, "Last year when I came here, there were so many people and the place was so messy. Strictly limiting the number of visitors while extending the number of days for nighttime visit will surely help people appreciate the palace better".

Tickets can be booked online (through Auction website). The tickets for Changgyeong Palace were fully booked via Internet but 600 are still available on site. Tickets for Gyeongbok Palace will be available from 2 p.m. on Friday online but people can also buy them at the palace.

Special performance will be held for those visiting the places at nighttime. At Changgyeong Place, traditional performances of Crown Princess Hong`s reminiscence of her life will be held. At Gyeongbok Palace from October 16 to 28, Chosun Dynasty royal court dance and music performance will be held in front of Sujeong Pavilion under the theme, expressing filial piety and respect through music.

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