The Korea Herald

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Record-high 14 million visit Joseon palaces, tombs, shrine this year

By Choi Si-young

Published : Dec. 29, 2023 - 16:34

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A musical held from April to May on the Gyeongbokgung grounds. (Cultural Heritage Administration) A musical held from April to May on the Gyeongbokgung grounds. (Cultural Heritage Administration)

South Korea’s popular royal palaces, tombs and shrine connected to the Joseon era (1392-1910) attracted 14.2 million visitors this year, the highest number since the Cultural Heritage Administration began compiling data in 2011.

The number of visitors jumped 28.5 percent on-year, exceeding the previous record of 13.3 million in 2019, particularly on the strength of domestic visitors. Foreign visitors to the cultural sites marked 1.9 million this year, well below the figure of 2.5 million in 2019.

The CHA attributed the surge to the success of nighttime programs at the palaces.

“The fact that we had expanded nighttime programs for visitors to tour those palaces even after the sunset could be one reason behind the record,” the agency said in a statement, adding the nighttime tours were open for 160 days in total last year.

The introduction of programs using digital technologies to engage tourists visiting tombs was another reason, the agency said, adding it will soon roll out separate programs for children and foreign travelers to boost attendance.

The palaces and shrine were all built during the Joseon era, under the rule of the Yi family. The main palace Gyeongbokgung as well as other palaces Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung and Deoksugung and the shrine Jongmyo are all in central Seoul.

The tombs, which house Joseon kings and queens, are spread across 18 different sites in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Gangwon Province.