Monday, October 5, 2009

Suwon Folk Village: Revisted During Chuseok

Last Friday was Chuseok as most of you probably know by now. You also may recall that I invited people to come and watch Samurai movies for a marathon and good times. No more than two people chimed in for this event, but that is okay considering it was for a holiday.

I told these two gals that we could stay inside and watch movies or go on a mini trip somewhere. We all opted for the mini trip as it is great to get out sometimes. Our destination was the Suwon Folk Village which I visited with JH a while back.

The weather was pristine, which made it a great day in the park. So come along with me as I share the fun we had at the folk village.

Getting There by Subway:
Last time I went by car and so it was a snap getting there, however this time it was more tricky since we were on foot.

To get there you take Line #1 in the direction that if you look on your map will position you going past Suwon station. Get off at Suwon station and head out of Exit 4 up the stairs.

Turn a sharp left and look behind a bus parking lot. There you will see a traditional style building that advertises tourist information.

Go inside and inquire about the free shuttle bus to the village. It is on a certain schedule so if you want you can wait for the free shuttle or not.

Other choices would be by bus or taxi. By bus you would take the city bus #37 from Suwon station.

Our timing was great and we got on the free shuttle bus. The ride time was about 30 to 35 minutes.
Arrival and Lunch:

Once you get there you pay for your tickets at the front entrance. You can choose from the following selection of ticket packages:
  • Regular = 12,000 Won (Performance + Traditional House Visit)
  • Museum Package = 15,000 (Includes visit to 3 museums)
  • Full package = 18,000 (Includes visit to all the museums plus haunted house visit)
Last time I went we took the museum package but it seemed the museum wasn't that fascinating so I suggested we just get regular tickets and take a look around.

We didn't get very far before wanting to fill our tummies with some good old folk village grub. Stopping at a nearby restaurant we figured out how to order and had ourselves some Pajeon (pancake) and Bulgolgi with rice.

The food and pleasant outdoor seating environment made for some good time getting in some girl talk.

Folk Village Tour Zone:
After our meal we gathered ourselves and headed into the folk village tour area. As you make your way in you start to feel more relaxed and ready for a peaceful time at the village.

Upon first entering you are greeted by Jangseung or traditional village guardians. These statues are whimsical and large in size. They are also a reminder to Korea's shamanistic traditions.
If you look closely at this picture you can see a sideways "V" in the left region. This is a bird totem called Sotdae and used to ward off evil spirits and as a celebratory symbol.
I would like to point out that through out the village are historical and cultural recreations but there is a real lack of reading material to explain anything. Perhaps if you are Korean you know all about this stuff, and sure if you enter one of the museums on site they explain things a little more.

But I think the tourism industry could benefit by publishing material in English for visitors. In doing so Korea could help keep visitors attention and perhaps retain them for future visits.

Moving on we strolled around the area that showcased the different roofing styles.
We passed a Yonja banga or mill stone. In fact there were several types of these set up through out the village.

I had my try at being a mill grinder. ~

Looking around we came to the pottery workshop and kiln area.

Another pleasure of the folk village is seeing the dried goods attached to the houses and often times drying out in the sun.

The village even had their own dog of which I believe is part of the Jindo dog breed.

What else would you come to expect from a folk village but folk crafts? Indeed, there was a loom being prepared to practice on.

See that sign at the bottom there? I considered snatching it up, due to that it would be great for my office. haha

One thing I enjoyed about this particular visit was that some of the visitors were dressed up in hanboks. I assume they were coming from family events or just decided to spend the day at the village for their holiday. If I were a kid growing up in Korea and experienced dressing up in traditional clothes and going to the folk village, I think I would have really great memories.

Making your way around the village you see people giving demonstrations here and there. At this one spot an older man was helping visitors try their hand at weaving.
One part was for natural Tye-dying, which you could achieve for just 1,000 Won.
I assumed these were the vats where the pigment was boiled.

Nearby was a small river where a sailboat floated along to the breeze. I couldn't help but think that in a few weeks the village will be beautiful with the site of colorful fall leaves.
This was a funny sight, for the kid was trying to carry that sack around. He nearly fell over but the assistent caught him. I think the kid has a few years before he can manage it on his own.

The village boasts gardens with lush greenery. One surprise was a little hemp plot. I wasn't sure what to make of this considering that the drug is a high offense here. But I considered that the plants were probably just grown for their material properties and not medicinal. Meaning that the plants weren't capable of producing the drug. I tried to take a close inspection and even contemplated taking a leaf and some buds but knew the risk I was taking. Still if you want to see a hemp plant up close, the folk village is the place to go.

We found one little section with a sack placed on a sign that read "Try Me On." Well, why not? I said to myself and tried it on. What ensued was my reenactment of an Ahjumma or Ahjusshi tired from a days work on the farm.

More of those lush gardens...
I think the most beneficial part of visiting the folk village is seeing the performances. Last time I went I think JH and I managed to miss out on these things so it was great to get a first look at it all this time.

We made our way to the Performing Area where nearby a group was performing pungmul 풍물, which is a farmers dance including a reed instrument, drumming and dancing. Later on we witnessed a full performance of this in the stage arena.
On our way we saw people playing on the jumping seesaws.

Seeing the pungmul performance was a truly great experience. The best part was when the performers wearing the hats with the strings or (sangmo, which are hats with long ribbon attached to them that players can spin and flip in intricate patterns by moving their heads.) As they moved they also did acrobatics in sync with each other which was amazing.

The whole dance involved following each other in a line while moving in a synchronized spiral.

Check out this video montage I made of the event.

After finishing the traditional dance folks moved from the arena area to where a tightrope was positioned. Here we saw a performance of jultagi.

It is different from tightrope-walking style of other countries, because it is usually accompanied by music plays by telling a story to entertain viewers.
Indeed, in between acts while the man rested at the end of the tightrope he spoke a lot. Since we didn't know what he was saying we couldn't really connect with the story. But we had a feeling it had to do with his performance (duh!) since each time his walk across the tightrope his tricks became more dangerous.

There are more than 40 kinds of Jultagi techniques including a walking on a tight rope as the basic motion, a reversed walking on it, leaping with one foot on it, sitting and lying on it, and sometimes pretending to fall down. [3] Another elaborate tightrope walking trick is jumping up after kneeling on the tightrope with one knee and then landing on the rope in a cross-legged sitting position. Some expert tightrope walkers can jump forward while standing on the rope without falling
He liked doing that cross-legged thing a lot.

After a while the performance started to not capture our attention and so we moved on. There was a horse riding performance which caught our eyes. But as we were trying to watch some Ahjummas spotted us and took pictures with us. This is an ongoing experience here in Korea where random people will ask to get their picture with you. I always imagine these people going home and showing their children saying, "Look I got my picture with some Americans!"

We managed to get away from that crazyness and made our way towards the Traditional Wedding ceremony area. In the olden times the groom and bride traveled to the wedding spot in traditional ways.

The groom traveled by horse to the bride's house and after the wedding ceremony took his wife in a palanquin (cart) to his parents' house to live.

In this case, the bride came out hiding her face with the arm sleeves of her hwarot or traditional dress. Speaking of which, I wrote a paper about this costume for my Korean Art History class.

Although, the dress this reenactor was wearing was merely an imitation of the real thing, but it was fun to see it being worn in real life during a mock wedding ceremony. One unique feature is that when the sleeves are brought together in the front the two birds face each other. Everything on this garment is meant to symbolize something, either long life or to produce many sons.
The ceremony was intricate and also of course very ritualistic.

A lot of bowing went on.
Afterwards the groom and wife departed, husband on horse back while wife in a palanquin.

This is where our journey completed as we made our way into the gift shopping area. I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my Chuseok holiday. Spending time with new friends and discovering more treasures from Korea, are both great things.

So the next time you have an open schedule make your way to the Suwon folk village.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Amazing post--perhaps more easily digested if it were split. But I found it very informative.

    I've got to go to that Folk Village sometime--it is much larger than the one at Namsangol!


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