Chuseok is one of the most important holidays on the South Korean lunar calendar. This year, the holiday to mark the beginning of autumn falls in the middle of September, and gives Koreans and expats alike a much needed rest from their typically busy lives. Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving, is a time when Koreans travel great distances to their hometowns to gather with relatives to give thanks and perform ceremonies for their ancestors. However, the holiday is aimed at non-Koreans too with visitors highly encouraged to participate in Chuseok festivities and enjoy a traditionally cultural Korean experience. There will be many free events across the peninsula such as songpyeon (rice cake) making, folk games and tight rope dancing, and several palaces, shrines and Joseon royal tombs will offer free admission during the Chuseok holiday to those wearing hanboks.
Another way to get a true cultural experience is by visiting Hanoks – traditional Korean houses that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Several hanok folk villages have been maintained and preserved to allow visitors a glimpse into Korean life hundreds of years ago and are an ideal mini-break during the Chuseok holiday weekend.
Conveniently located in Seoul, the Bukchon Hanok Village is an ideal day trip during the Chuseok holiday weekend. Divided between three villages, the majority of hanoks are located in Gahoe-dong and have been very well preserved – certainly as people still live in the hanok alleys (where visitors are reminded by signs to keep the noise down). Other historical spots include Paik Inje’s house, a former women’s residence in the late Joseon Dynasty, and other houses that invite guests to participate in traditional Korean folk painting, embroidery and hanji (Korean paper) courses.
Over in Gyedong-gil, visitors can catch a glimpse of everyday life around Bukchon in their grocery stores, hair shops and public saunas. At the Bukchon Traditional Cultural Center, try your hand at calligraphy or traditional knotting or witness a tea ceremony. Take a step outside and the popular Samcheongdong-gil area, which starts at Gyeongbokgung Palace, is famous for its cafes, museums, art galleries and upscale boutiques. Nature lovers will find one-hundred-year old pine trees and scenic views in Samcheong Park located past Samcheong Tunnel. The interactive Bukchon Museum, also showcases modern Korean goods and commodities that are no longer in use and visitors can use these objects in activities and games before they leave.
Over in Jeonju, which is located in North Jeolla Province, one of South Korea’s oldest cities and most popular tourist destinations boasts the Jeonju Hanok Village. The largest cluster of hanoks in South Korea, Jeonju has over 700 traditional houses where people still reside. The slightly upturned roof edges are a distinct architectural feature of the hanoks which never fails to impress. The streets of this hanok village are lined with gorgeous traditional housing while intertwined with many historical sites such as the Gyeonggijeon Shrine, Jeonju Hyanggyo (Confucian School), Omokdae and Imokdae Historical Pavillion. Of special note is the Hagindang, which is the largest hanok in the village and was historically a residence for high ranking officials from the late Joseon Dynasty. Jeonju is not only popular for its hanok village but is also the birthplace of many Korean dishes including bibimbap. The hanoks also offer a traditional Korean experience with a Jeonju twist as visitors can watch a traditional wedding ceremony, create their own soju concoction at the alcohol museum or make their own hanji.
Andong Hahoe Folk Village in Northern Gyeongsang Province is a Unesco World Heritage site and is a perfect weekend getaway for nature lovers and history buffs. Previously home to the Ryu Family of Pungsan for 600 years, the village is an impressive example of extremely well-preserved hanok structures. The hanoks themselves are unlike any other as these traditional houses have not been altered in any way and still retain their original architectural features of tiled and thatched roofs. At the hanok village entrance stands several Jangseung which are wooden statues believed to guard against misfortune. Also boasting exquisite scenic sites such as the Nakdong River which encircles the village, take a boat to the Buyeongdae Cliffs and enjoy a gorgeous panoramic view of the city, which includes a 600-year old zelkova tree dedicated to the goddess Samsin. The village is also renowned for being one of the largest and most famous Confucian academies whose founder graces the KRW 1000 note. Best of all, this village is not overly crowded with tourists, and allows visitors to get away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.
South Korea’s hanok villages are considered by many to be urban street museums that give living examples of what life was like during the Joseon Dynasty. The fall season is also an ideal time to visit these outdoor villages because the temperature is perfect for long walks and the fall colors are breathtaking. If you’re staying in South Korea during the Chuseok holiday weekend, book your ticket early and avoid the crowds for the perfect holiday break. With several cultural events to commemorate the holiday at hanok villages throughout the country, find your cultural side and your own way to give thanks to Korea this vacation.
|Bukchon Hanok Village
Address: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Directions: Subway: Anguk station (line 3, exit 2) Go straight for about 300 m to arrive at Bukchon Hanok Village.
Phone number: 02-2148-4160 / 02-2148-4161
|Jeonju Hanok Village
Address: 15-11 Pungnamdong 3(sam)-ga, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do
Directions: From Jeonju Station: Depart: Opposite of Wedding Hall- Stop at Jeondong Catholic Church(Hanok Village) Bus Number: (25 min)Bus Number: 12、60、79、109、119、142、508、513、536、542～546 (25 min)
From Express Bus Terminal:
Bus #5-1: Opposite of Taxi Stop, walk 150 m toward Inter-City Bus Terminal Direction,interval 15 min Bus#79: Bus stop in front of Terminal Front Gate (interval: 25 min)Bus Number 5-1, 79, 15 min
Phone number: 063 281 2114
|Andong Hahoe Folk Village
Address: 40, Jongga-gil, Pungcheon-myeon, Andong-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Phone number: 054-854-3669, 054-852-3588 / 054-840-6974
Directions: From Andong Bus Terminal, take bus 46 to Hahoe Village * Bus 46 Info: 6.20am-6:20pm. Runs 10 times a day
Admission: [Individuals] Adults KRW 3,900 / Teenagers KRW 1,500 / Children KRW 1,000