The official welcoming ceremony for Indonesian President Joko Widodo and First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo was held at Changdeokgung Palace today. The Indonesian President is making a state visit to Korea.
Indonesia is a key partner for the Korean Government’s New Southern Policy, and President Jokowi is the first ASEAN member head of state to make a reciprocal visit to Korea after President Moon Jae-in took office. To greet the special guests from the country, Changdeokgung, which is closed every Monday, was reserved for the event.
Added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, Changdeokgung highlights Korea’s traditional architecture and is the most uniquely Korean palace well balanced with nature. A primary palace during the Joseon period (1392-1910), it served as a royal palace for over 300 years and also carries a historic significance as it was used until the reign of the last monarch, King Sunjong.
Today’s welcoming ceremony began with greetings from President Moon and First Lady Kim Jung-sook as well as the welcoming delegation of elementary school students standing at the entrance of Geumcheongyo Bridge on the palace grounds. The welcoming delegation was composed of the sons and daughters of the Indonesian Embassy staff in Seoul clad in traditional Indonesian attire and Korean elementary students from an area bordering Paju, north of Seoul. When the children welcomed the two heads of state with a Korean greeting “annyeonghaseyo” while waving the national flags of Korea and Indonesia, they waved back to them.
The two Presidents next reviewed the honor guard and military band consisting of 300 soldiers of the army, navy and air force in front of the Injeong Gate. They walked down the walkway lined on both sides by a Korean traditional honor guard to the throne hall, Injeongjeon (Hall of Benevolent Governance), and mounted Sangwoldae, the raised platform in front of the hall.
As the official events ended, the two Presidents stepped down from the platform and exchanged greetings with members of the welcoming delegations and officials of both nations. After posing for a commemorative photo, they looked around inside Injeongjeon Hall. This Hall of Benevolent Governance, one of the main features of the Changdeokgung Palace, was the venue for the kingdom’s major rituals in the past. Now the public can take a look around the Hall at night as the Changdeokgung Palace Moonlight Tour program continues from April to October.
After the official welcoming ceremony, the two presidential couples got on a cart to move to Yeonghwadang, the oldest building in the Chandeokgung Palace complex, where they spent time together to deepen their friendly relationship. They posed for a commemorative photo in front of the Buyongji Pond and chatted for a while listening to explanations about the pond.
The rear garden of Changdeokgung Palace, the most typical royal garden of Joseon, is regarded as the best garden in Korea with its splendid natural landscape, pond and pavilion. Buyongji Pond was a place not only for rest but for teaching and learning. Built based upon the philosophy that the sky is round and the earth is rectangular, the rectangular outline of the pond is known to symbolize the earth while a round-shaped small islet in the middle of the pond represents the sky.
The first couples moved to Yeonghwadang, a building in the palace where people can have a glance of the Gyujanggak royal library, the Buyongjeong pavilion and the site where the state exams were held during the Joseon era. At Yeonghwadang, they had refreshments, including tea, prepared on a small portable table.
“When I visited the Istana Bogor last year, President Widodo proudly showed me their palace so I wanted to invite him this time to our palace, thus the official welcoming ceremony was held at Changdeokgung Palace,” said President Moon. “The kings of Joseon performed their duties, met with envoys from abroad and discussed state affairs with government officials for 600 years here at Changdeokgung Palace. President Jokowi is the first foreign head of state in the modern era who has been received in an official welcoming ceremony held at a Joseon palace.” In response, President Jokowi said, “I realized how beautiful and big Changdeokgung Palace is. I am very grateful to President Moon for hosting such a special welcoming ceremony.”
President Moon explained to the Indonesian first couple about Korean history and the distinctive flavor of the country and had an opportunity to strengthen friendship. The welcoming ceremony held at the palace became a meaningful opportunity to introduce the beauty of a Korean palace, culture and history to Indonesia where the Korean Wave, including K-pop, continues to spread.