Exorcisms, seesaws: all in a day at fall festival

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Exorcisms, seesaws: all in a day at fall festival

A poet in ancient China described autumn as a season of “high sky and plump horses.” Thousands of years on, the phrase is still used to describe a blue fall sky and golden rice paddies before the harvest.
Autumn has long been a festive time in Korean farming villages. Traditionally, sacrifices to spirits were made to thank them for the harvest, and celebrations were held featuring percussion performances. Many traditions have faded away in rural areas, but they are kept alive at the Korean Folk Village in Yongin, Gyeonggi province.
This all-in-one emporium of traditions on the outskirts of Seoul will host an autumnal festival from Sunday to Oct. 12. Visitors can take part in a traditional harvest-time activity: making tteok, rice cakes, from scratch. Each day of the festival, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., visitors can help thresh, hull and winnow rice and then pound it into a gooey paste with mortar and pestle. In another corner of the folk village, a thanksgiving offering to spirits will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
A unique and ambitious festival event is a North Korean-style exorcism, which will be held Oct. 3 and 4 at 1 p.m. Jeong Gyu-ho, the festival’s organizer, says, “Exorcism is a summing-up of the core Korean culture, where dancing and worship of spirits are all featured.”
This Sunday at 1 p.m., a sword dance from Pyeongyang will be performed.
Of course the year-round folk village attractions such as tightrope dancing and traditional wedding ceremonies will also be displayed. And a special troupe of ethnic Koreans from China will perform neottwigi, a traditional seesawing performance that includes enthralling acrobatics.
Those planning to drive to the folk village are advised to hit the road early. It takes more than an hour and a half from central Seoul to reach Yongin -- in normal traffic.

by Chun Su-jin

Cost of admission is 11,000 won ($9.60) for adults. Free shuttle buses are available from Suwon Station at the end of subway line No. 1. Tickets to the Korean Folk Village should be bought at the kiosk in the Suwon Station square before boarding the shuttle bus. For more information, call (031) 286-2111 or visit the Web site, www.koreanfolk.co.kr.
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