Time-Off Agenda: City May Be Quiet, But There's Still Plenty Going OnThere is an old Korean saying that goes "No more, no less, just as the full moon of Chuseok." Korea's thanksgiving holiday is one of the peninsula's most festive holidays, and a time when everything seems just right. It lasts for three days and is full of various events.
During the holiday period, plenty of ways to enjoy the festive atmosphere are easily accessible throughout Seoul and at nearby places like Yongin. On Sunday, historic sites, old palaces and public parks will be open and admitting guests free of charge. Many of them will be displaying traditional games and performances of samulnori (percussion circles) and nongak (traditional farmers' folk bands).
For an authentic Chuseok experience, try Namsangol Hanok Maeul, the National Folk Museum of Korea or the Korean Folk Village. All three will provide facilities for guests to make songpyeon, the traditional rice cakes made especially for the holiday. Many people at these sites will be dressed in the traditional hanbok attire, and will be performing Chuseok rituals. The typical rites consist of bowing before a shrine made up of pictures of ancestors and food, incense and candles.
The recommended sites will provide an opportunity for guests to play traditional Korean games. The typical holiday pastimes are yutnori, in which sticks are tossed like dice, neoltteuigi, or jumping on a board like a seesaw, jegichagi, played with the feet like hacky-sack, and peng-i, or top spinning.
Namsangol Hanok Village (02-2266-6937), the Korea folk village in Jung-gu, Seoul, consists of real homes where the residents live in ways that ancient Koreans might have lived. From Sunday to Wednesday, the place offers plenty of opportunities for outsiders to learn how to make traditional crafts like pottery and jangseung or Korean totem poles. Every day except Tuesday, the Kim Chun-young House will host events where you can sample and buy traditional liquors.
If you go to the National Folk Museum of Korea (02-734-1341) in Jongno-gu, Seoul, you can experience the ancient Chuseok traditions originating from the northern areas of Korea. From Saturday to Wednesday, folk songs will be staged along with sessions for teaching the songs to the audience. On Wednesday at 6 p.m., you can watch a ganggangsuwollae, or a circle of women dancing hand-in-hand.
If you want to get out of town during the holiday, drive to Yongin, home of the Korean Folk Village (031-286-2111). On Tuesday and Wednesday, taekwondo performances and various other competitions like ssireum wrestling are scheduled. Anyone is able to take part in these competitions or register to make some traditional toys and craftworks.
by Kong Seo-hee