The changing of the royal guard ceremony at Seoul’s Deoksugung Palace has been resumed for the first time in eight months since the event was suspended due to COVID-19.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that the ceremony and the guard parade will be restarted from Oct. 20 at Daehanmun Gate of the palace, as the social distancing level has been eased to 1.
The city, however, said the event could be more flexibly operated if the number of people exceeds 100, adding that high-risk activities involving contact with others such as wearing traditional clothes would remain suspended for the time being.
The ceremony is held three times a day from Tuesday to Sunday at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The palace is closed Mondays.
The ceremony features the changing of the guards at Deoksugung’s gates shift with those protecting the gates of the palace walls. Started by the city in 1996, the event saw 592,584 visitors between last year and January this year.
The parade features guards marching around the gates after the ceremony. Thirty guards will march to the sound of horns and drums as they hold flags, play traditional music and send signals with the drums.
Instead of marching around the same path as they did before (from Daehanmun to Seoul Plaza or Daehanmun to Sungnyemun Gate to Namdaemun Market), the march will be held at different venues depending on the day of the week: Sungnyemun Tuesdays and Sundays, Gwanghwamun Plaza Wednesdays, Seoullo 7017 Thursdays, Cheonggye Plaza Fridays and Namdaemun Market Saturdays.
The changing of the royal guards at Sungnyemun will also take place in front of the gate, as the guards patrolling the fortresses will rotate prior to the parade. The ceremony at the gate runs daily from Tuesday to Sunday at 11:40 a.m.
The city government will enforce social distancing by dispatching security guards and monitoring the crowd.