Monday, October 1, 2012

Chuseok Spectacular at the Namsangol Hanok Village

 Ok, as you know by now my birthday was on Chuseok this year, which gave me five days off and a chance to explore more of this great city. I chose to visit the festivities at the Namsangol Folk Village in Chungmuro, Seoul. For one I really enjoy this time of year when people come out to engage in their cultural traditions and two I haven't been to this site yet.

 I arrived out of Chungmuro station and made my way up a street towards the village gate. Along this path were street carts selling traditional snacks, cotton candy and typical street food. The wafting smells of burnt squid along with sweet sugary cotton candy wafted in the air as I passed through the gate.

The above is hobakyeot, or traditional pumpkin candy that is broken up into small pieces. Now you would think this is some kind of hard crunchy thing to eat, however once in your mouth it starts to melt and releases a tangy sweet taste.

 I arrived before the major crowds came pouring in, allowing me to explore and move about the area easily. Upon entering you see a courtyard with traditional games set up, TBS eFM broadcasting from their truck and a stage nearby with performances going on. Definitely this was the place to be to explore traditional happenings in Korea and to mingle with Korean people.

 The highlight of this trip was seeing the youngsters dressed out in their colorful hanboks. Boys and girls looked as cute as dolls with their brightly colored vests and flowing skirts. Above you see children trying their hand at the game of Tuho where you throw long sticks that look like arrows into a standing pot with three holes. If you have ever tried your hand at this then you would know how tricky it really is to get those sticks in one of the holes.

 Another traditional game is called Yut, where you have four sticks and give them a toss in the air. These sticks are flat on one side which determines the play of the game. You count the number of sticks that landed flat and rounded to determine how many spaces you move your piece on the board. I think kids get the most kick out of throwing these sticks, which have been used in the classroom for school activities.

I'm not sure if the above game is strictly a Korean traditional one, as "hoop rolling" or "hoop trundling" is found in other nations. But the basics are there consisting of a metal hoop and a hook like metal stick to push this thing along. However, this one's a tricky game where it takes a few practices to get the idea of how it works.

 Alongside the traditional games was a overhang set up with traditionally made woven materials such as shoes, baskets and brooms. Inside this area were too older gentlemen working away at making these items.

 For the most part I enjoyed this lovely day in Korea where people came out to celebrate their culture and create memories with their family. I took a path leading up towards the tower that winded it's way around the venues and admired the scenery.

 Expect another post including a drum dance and parade, as there was plenty more to share from this special occasion. Chuseok festivities should still be going on around these parts of Seoul, so if you want to still catch some of the fun then head on out there!

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