$1 Concerts at Changgyeonggung Palace, Seoul

Changgyeonggung Palace Open Nights

A friend and I discovered a sign for concerts at Changgyeonggung Palace while exploring the palace gardens.  When we found the cost was only W1,000 and it was gugak music (Korean traditional music) we vowed to go the following week.

The evening concerts are part of “Special Open Nights” at Changgyeongung Palace, located near Hyehwa in Seoul.  We arrived at around 7:15pm to buy tickets at the booth outside the palace gate.  There’s a special line for foreigners and being the only ones around there was no wait time and it was only W1,000 – about a dollar!  You need to present your passport or ID card to buy tickets.  There were plenty of people milling outside the entrance waiting for the palace to open.

Concerts at Changgyeonggung Palace

The doors to the palace opened for the evening at 7:30pm so there’s time to walk around the garden before the concert at 8pm. The gardens are very beautiful and lush in summer with the peaceful Chundangji pond and old trees.  Glowing lanterns make the forested gardens look very romantic. It was tempting to wander around for the full half an hour but we knew it would be best to go get our seats early – and we were right.   We got seats but by the time the concert started at 8, all the seats were full and more than 50 people had to stand or sit nearby.  The concert is held outside so it’s a good move to bring insect repellent – a hand fan wouldn’t go astray either.

The concert started and the atmosphere was really nice being outside in a large open space surrounded by trees, garden and old Korean palace buildings. The concert started with more western style “fusion” music and singing which was not so exciting for us – however the Korean audience got into it so it was hard not to have fun and clap along.  The more traditional gugak music and pansori songs were during the last half of the concert and were excellent. The singers gutsy voices were reminiscent of jazz or blues – maybe even better.  The concert lasted for about 50 min. This is a short 10 second clip of the concert taken from my old iPhone 4. (Sorry, quality isn’t great but…feel free to contribute to my new iPhone fund)

After the concert finished there was time to wander around the palace gardens and at this point we thought it would make a great date night.  Overall we thought the concert was wonderful and very atmospheric.  There was a little too much fusion music for us but on the other hand it was refreshing going to a Korean concert that wasn’t touristy at all.

Concerts Times & Details

Concerts are held during three sessions of the year, every evening except Mondays.  The 3 concert sessions hold music concerts during the “Special open night” –  April 30-June 2; July 16-August 19 and September 24-October 28.

The palace grounds open for the special open night from 7pm and close at 10pm, except for the July 16-August 19 session which opens from 7:30pm-10pm.

Cost 1,000 KRW

Changyeonggung Palace website

Palace History

Changgyeonggung Palace is one of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces of the Joseon Dynasty.  It was built by King Sejong (the 4th king of the Joseon Dynasty) in the 1400’s for his elderly father King Taejong.  The palace was renovated and enlarged by King Seongjong in 1483 to take care of the wives of the preceding kings.  Changgyeonggung palace was turned into a park with a zoo and botanical garden during Japanese occupation. In 1983 renovations and restoration of the palace commenced and is still underway.  The evening concerts are held outside Tongmyeongjeon Hall, the royal bedroom where the king and queen slept.

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