The Daereungwon royal tombs, a designated historic site in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, will offer free admission to the public starting May, according to Gyeongju City.
Located in Hwangnam-dong, a total of 23 ancient tombs from the Silla Dynasty are at the Daereungwon park, attracting more than 1 million visitors annually on average.
The two most representative tombs are Hwangnam Daechong, the largest tomb in Gyeongju where the Queen's Gold Crown and Queen's Belt were discovered; and the Cheonmachong, where "Jangni cheonmado" (Painting of Heavenly horse on a Saddle Flap), was found.
Both relics are designated National Treasures, and while the golden crown and belt are housed at the National Museum of Korea, the painting is placed inside the Cheonmachong, making it a must-see attraction for visitors.
Current admission fees are 3,000 won for adults and 1,000 won for children.
A public survey conducted in late 2020 showed 56.9 percent of those polled supported free entry into Daereungwon, according to the city.
Gyeongju City expects the move to draw tourists visiting the main street Hwangridan-gil or the astronomical observatory Cheomseongdae to the old city center district in Gyeongju, helping revitalize the city's economy. The city started consultations with the Cultural Heritage Administration on the free entry since 2021.
Meanwhile, for the preservation and management of the Cheonmachong tomb, the city plans to collect separate admission fees ranging from 500 won to 2,000 won.
The city is expected to install a separate ticket office for Cheonmachong.