Jongmyo Shrine was a primary place of worship for kings throughout Joseon Dynasty. The memorial service, called Jongmyo Jaerye, is said to be the oldest complete ceremony in the world, and was carried out in obedience to the king’s order. The ceremony was designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in December 9, 1995, for its well-preserved ancient customs, such as memorial services and traditional music, which is National Intangible Cultural Asset No.56.
During the Joseon Dynasty, it was held when the season changes and the twelfth month of the lunar year, but was stopped during the Japanese colonial period. Now, it is annually reenacted on the first Sunday of May. Jongmyo Jaeryeak, the musical part of the ceremony, is produced by instruments, songs, and dances that originated over 500 years ago. In May, the Korean Royal Palace Culture Festival is to be held with a variety of other cultural heritage festivals.