King Jeongjo’s parade turns back clock 222 years

(The 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade begins after a formal ceremony to officially depart the palace, at the Donhwamun Gate of Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul on Sept. 23.)

In front of Changdeokgung Palace, the jwatongrye royal official in charge of ceremonies (좌통례, 左通禮) announced the king’s departure by hitting a drum three times. The civil and military officials prostrated themselves before the king. 

As King Jeongjo (정조, 正祖) (r. 1776-1800), the 22nd Joseon monarch, stepped out of the Donhwamun Gate of Changdeokgung, opened by the sumunjang chief gatekeeper (수문장, 守門將), the jangyongsa (장용사, 壯勇使), the chief of the jangyongyeong royal guards (장용영, 壯勇營), formally announced the king's departure. The king then stated the significance of his formal procession to the royal tombs to the gods and to his people, before mounting his horse. 

The reenactment of King Jeongjo’s procession to his father’s tomb was previously hosted separately by multiple local governments. This year, however, the city governments of Seoul, Suwon and Hwaseong co-hosted the procession for the first time. 

The parade involved 4,391 people and 690 horses, and proceeded all the way along the 59.2-kilometer path from Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul to the Yungneung Royal Tombs (융릉, 隆陵) in Hwaseong-si City, Gyeonggi-do Province, where the king’s father, Crown Prince Sado (사도세자, 思悼世子) (1735-1762), is buried. The procession began with a reenactment of the ceremony to formally depart Changdeokgung Palace. 

The parade reenacted King Jeongjo’s trip to hold a memorial ceremony at his father’s tomb in 1795. Although the event was to begin at 8:20 a.m., many of the crowd gathered at Changdeokgung Palace one hour in advance to see the royal parade. 

When the king mounted his horse and the palanquin carrying his mother, Lady Hyegyeong (혜경궁 홍씨, 惠慶宮 洪氏) (1735-1815), headed across Jongno-gu District in downtown Seoul, the crowds lining the streets held up their phones to take photos or videos of the parade. 
 

Japanese tourist Sidara Hiromi (設樂诰美) (second from right), visiting Korea to see the 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade, waves to Lady Hyegyeong’s palanquin as it passes exit No. 9 of Jongno 3-ga Station, in Seoul on Sept. 23.

Japanese tourist Sidara Hiromi (設樂诰美) (second from right), visiting Korea to see the 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade, waves to Lady Hyegyeong’s palanquin as it passes exit No. 9 of Jongno 3-ga Station, in Seoul on Sept. 23.

Sidara Hiromi (設樂诰美), a tourist from Tokyo who came to Seoul to see the procession, said, “When I came to Korea last spring, I heard that there would be a big procession reenacting the king’s march to the royal tombs, and I came back with my friends to see it. It’s surprising and amusing to see such a large-scale event.” 

Dasha Zrazhevskaya from Russia, one of the 50 non-Korean participants in the parade, said, “I feel great to be a part of the show.” She played the role of a court lady. The procession had participants from 20 countries, including Russia, China and Mexico. 
 

The 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade crosses a <i>baedari</i> (배다리), a bridge built on multiple boats that connects the neighborhood of Ichon with Nodeulseom Island in the Hangang River, in central Seoul on Sept. 23.

The 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade crosses a baedari (배다리), a bridge built on multiple boats that connects the neighborhood of Ichon with Nodeulseom Island in the Hangang River, in central Seoul on Sept. 23.

The highlight of the parade was crossing the baedari (배다리), a temporary bridge built on multiple pontoon boats anchored in a line that linked the neighborhood of Ichon with Nodeoulseom Island in the Hangang River. 

The parade of 1,100 people and 140 horses crossed the 301-meter floating bridge, wowing the crowds. Before the king stepped on the floating bridge, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, Suwon Mayor Yeom Tae-Young, Hwaseong Mayor Chae In-seok, Dongjak-gu District Mayor Lee Chang-woo and Yongsan-gu District Mayor Sung Jang-Hyun together inspected the bridge before the king formally crossed. 

“I hope that the 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade, historically reenacted with other city governments, becomes a representative parade in Seoul,” said Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon. 

“Hwaseong-si City focused on restoring the actual route the king took through the city, which includes the procession's final destination, Yungneung,” said the Hwaseong mayor. “Next year, we will perfect the reenactment of the parade by expanding the Hwangujicheon-gil road for the long term, and establish a route to commemorate the filial piety of King Jeongjo so that tourists and citizens alike can visit and enjoy themselves.” 

 

Lady Hyegyeonggung, the mother of King Jeongjo, leaves the Donhwamun Gate of Changdeokgung Palace as a part of the 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade, in Seoul on Sept. 23.

Lady Hyegyeonggung, the mother of King Jeongjo, leaves the Donhwamun Gate of Changdeokgung Palace as a part of the 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade, in Seoul on Sept. 23.

 

Dasha Zrazhevskaya, who played the part of a court lady in the 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade, rides a horse toward Jonggak in Seoul on Sept. 23.

Dasha Zrazhevskaya, who played the part of a court lady in the 2017 King Jeongjo Tomb Parade, rides a horse toward Jonggak in Seoul on Sept. 23.

 

King Jeongjo (third from left), Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon (fourth from left) and other dignitaries cross the <i>baedari</i> temporary bridge that connects the neighborhood of Ichon with Nodeulseom Island in the Hangang River, in Seoul on Sept. 23.

King Jeongjo (third from left), Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon (fourth from left) and other dignitaries cross the baedari temporary bridge that connects the neighborhood of Ichon with Nodeulseom Island in the Hangang River, in Seoul on Sept. 23.

 

 

By Jeon Han and Kim Young Shin 
Photos = Jeon Han
Seoul l Sept. 23, 2017