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“Joseon Reawakens,” a royal wedding revived

(above) Heonseondo is a Korean traditional royal court dance which represents the offering of a legendary peach that ripens every 3,000 years to the king for his longevity and good fortune; (below) Jinehchanan is a reinterpretation of the royal banquet. (above) Heonseondo is a Korean traditional royal court dance which represents the offering of a legendary peach that ripens every 3,000 years to the king for his longevity and good fortune; (below) Jinehchanan is a reinterpretation of the royal banquet.
An evening embellished with royal traditions took place on March 5 at the National Museum of Korea, delivering the essence of Joseon royal court culture, imbued with delicacy and elegance.

Organized by the Presidential Council on Nation Branding, “Joseon Reawakens” presented diverse Korean cultural assets including a reenactment of a royal wedding, along with Korean traditional court music and dance. The encounter with the highest forms of traditional Korean culture was held in celebration of the return of the Oegyujanggak Joseon royal archives last year. The event also marked an opportunity for Korea to express its gratitude to France and offer a special moment to appreciate the beauty of Korean culture to an international audience.

Over 200 participants enjoyed an evening of fashion, music, and gastronomic delights, which was also attended by Minister Choe Kwang-shik of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Director Kim Young-na of the National Museum of Korea, alongside foreign ambassadors and other dignitaries of the diplomatic corps dispatched to Korea.

Starting with the traditional Korean court ritual music, sujecheon performed by Ewha Gugak Ensemble, the program of the day was packed with an abundant variety of colorful and sophisticated attractions as well as the reenactment of a royal wedding and a Hanbok fashion show. “Joseon Reawakens” showcased royal ceremonial performances such as Heonseondo (literally, “presenting the legendary peach”), and a royal banquet called “Jinehchanan,” reinterpreted by a well-known master of the royal cuisine of the Joseon Dynasty, Han Bok-ryo, after the banquet held for the 80th birthday of King Gojong in 1887.

Minister, Choe Kwang-sik Minister, Choe Kwang-sik
The return of the Oegyujanggak from France served instrumental in reviving royal wedding traditions, the undoubted highlight of that evening. The Korea Royal Costume Research Institute reproduced the scenes of the ceremony as depicted in Banchado, a documentary painting of a royal wedding procession compiled into the recently returned royal protocol books.

During a congratulatory speech, Minister Choe Kwang-sik (right) extended his deep sentiments, while recollecting his involvement with the return of the Oegyujanggak manuscripts as former director of the National Museum of Korea and administrator of the Cultural Heritage Administration. The minister also paid homage to Dr. Park Byung-sun, an ethnically Korean researcher who passed away last November after greatly contributing to the return of the collection, considered to be one of Korea’s most important archives of documentary heritage.

A royal wedding was a national event: the marriage of a king, crown prince, or the king’s eldest grandson that ensured continuation of the royal lineage, involving several months of preparation and thousands of people. The ceremony of the day unveiled some of the major procedures of the wedding, such as Chaekbi, a coronation ceremony for the future queen, along with the actual marriage ceremony, Chinyeong, and consummation rite, Dongrae.

In part two, the stage was beautified by another Hanbok fashion show put on by one of Korea’s leading designers of royal court costume, Kim Hye-soon. Kim, who has held numerous fashion shows overseas including “The King of Joseon in New York” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year, reinterpreted the royal celebration with a modern touch and sense of dignity. Actor Park Sang-won and Actress Chea Shira modeled the traditional apparel of a Joseon king and queen in the reenactment of a royal wedding, receiving a round of applause for their special appearance.

Hanbok fashion showHanbok fashion show


The Presidential Council on Nation Branding has continuously strived to introduce and promote various aspects of Korean culture and traditions both at home and abroad. In November last year, they hosted a Hanbok fashion show in France featuring the reenactment of a royal wedding as part of France-Korea Week 2011, garnering a positive response from the local community.

“As I observe the global popularity of K-pop and Hallyu (Korean wave), I have come to realize that Korean culture is no longer alien to the eyes of those around the world,” remarked Lee Bae-yong, chairwoman of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding. “Hallyu is more than just pop music and culture; it also includes high and traditional culture.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism launched a new agency on January 30 for the promotion of Hallyu in an attempt to seek ways to appreciate Korea’s cultural heritage and encourage the diversity of Hallyu into the larger arena of Korean culture. Since the official launching ceremony, the agency has been responsible for the implementation of cultural policies that will facilitate collaboration among related organizations aimed at wider diffusion of the Korean wave overseas.

For more photos of the evening

By Hwang Dana
Korea.net Staff Writer

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