The Korea Herald


Recreating fragments of a bygone empire

By Hong Dam-young

Published : April 23, 2017 - 17:24

    • Link copied

At the turn of the century, Emperor Gojong declared Joseon an empire in a last-ditch attempt to retain independence. 

A re-enactment of foreign envoys’ audience with Emperor Gojong (Cultural Heritage Administration) A re-enactment of foreign envoys’ audience with Emperor Gojong (Cultural Heritage Administration)
The move turned out to be futile, as the short-lived Daehan Empire (1897-1910) saw the country taking its last breath before being colonized by Japan.

This year’s Royal Culture Festival -- from Friday to May -- will re-enact the ceremonies and rituals from the last monarchy on the Korean Peninsula.

In its third year now, the annual event is sponsored by the Cultural Heritage Administration and jointly organized by the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation and Dae Han Imperial House.

The festival takes place at the four Joseon-era royal palaces in Seoul -- Gyeongbokgung, Deoksugung, Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung -- along with Jongmyo, a Joseon-era royal ancestral shrine.

“The main theme of this year’s event is the 120th anniversary of the foundation of the Daehan Empire. And we prepared various programs so that (guests) can get a glimpse of the empire,” said Son Hyeong-chae, head of the organizing committee.

The opening ceremony of the Royal Culture Festival will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Gyeongbokgung, where the main programs of the festival will be showcased.

A re-enactment of Emperor Gojong’s coronation over a century, which was unconventionally fancy for a Joseon-era monarch, is one of the highlights of the Royal Culture Festival.

“During the Joseon era, the norm for a coronation was to be as plain as possible since it usually took place during his predecessor’s funeral period. The two exceptions were King Sejong and Gojong, and Gojong’s coronation was particularly grand because it took place while he declared the foundation of the Daehan Empire,” said Son.

The coronation re-enactment will take place at Deoksugung from Saturday to May 1.

Visitors can also expect to learn a little about royal culture and history.

From May 2 to May 5, a re-enactment of foreign envoys’ audience with Emperor Gojong will be performed. Other events include exhibitions of items used at royal households, a photo exhibition of hanbok (Korean traditional attire), a royal kitchen experience and a royal music performance.

Visit for more information. Tickets are available at Auction and Interpark.

By Yoon Min-sik (