The Bosingak Belfry refers to an ornate pavilion in central Seoul that houses a bell with a history that dates all the way back to the 14th century. Located opposite the modern Jongno Tower, the original bell was constructed in 1396 and used during the Joseon Dynasty to keep time and act as an alarm to alert people of fires and other emergencies.
Back then, the bell rang out 33 times (for the 33 Buddhist heavens) every morning at 4am, and the gates to the city were opened for the day. Each night at 10pm, they rang out 28 times (representing the location of the stars of constellations), to signal the closure of the gates and the start of the nightly curfew.
The original bell melted in a fire and was replaced in 1468. For preservation purposes, this bell now sits in the gardens of the National Museum of Korea, and the current bell you can see today is a replacement made with contributions from the public that was mounted in the same spot in 1985.
In a ceremony that starts at 11am, the guardsmen who patrol the tower ring the bell 12 times at noon from Tuesday through Sunday. A small-group walking tour is a great way to visit Bosingak Belfry, allowing you to take in other attractions in Seoul, such as Gyeonghuigung Palace, Daehamun, Cheonggyecheon Plaza, and the various landmarks of Jongno.
Insider’s Tip: If you happen to be in Seoul over New Year’s Eve, head down to the Bosingak Belfry, where a huge event is organized and the bell is rung 33 times at midnight.
The Bosingak Belfry is located along Jongno, the major financial and cultural center of Seoul, and is easily walkable from Gwanghwamun Square. Alternatively, take subway Line 1 to Jonggak Station and use exit 4.