Back in fall 2009, my mother and I went on a visit to The Land of the Morning Calm. On the morning of our third day our South Korean vacation, we went to Jongmyo Shrine, South Korea's oldest Confucian royal shrine which has existed in its present form since the 16th century.
Although this UNESCO World Heritage-listed locale is indisputably old and dedicated to commemorating the dead (specifically, the deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty that ruled over Korea from 1392 to 1910), it can be a less quiet place than one might think. One reason for this is that royal ancestral rites and ritual music continue to be performed in this part of Seoul from time to time.
As it so happened, the day we visited this site was one of those special days when the Jongmyo Jerye ancestral rite took place. The first inkling my mother and I had that this was going on came shortly after we passed through the entrance of the Jongmyo Shrine and heard what we initially mistook for loud piped music but soon realized was being produced at a live performance in the outdoor area of the complex's main Jeongjeon compound.
Somewhere along the way, we also found printed pamphlets informing us about the ceremony -- one that involved movements so formal I almost hesitate to describe it as a dance along with music and still more ritual activities -- that we got to witness when we entered that physically stark but still nonetheless pretty impressive space.
Looking back at my 2009 Korean visit as a whole, I definitely think that being witness to that ancient traditional ceremony at the authentically old Jongmyo Shrine was one of that trip's highlights. And while I did previously blog about it soon after, I reckon it's worth another blog post -- not least because this entry for Sandi's and Gattina's Photo Hunts allows me to put up three more photos of the shrine and its attendant ceremony that I hadn't previously done before! :)