New Year’s events at Hanok VillageEach year, people in Korea look forward to Seollal (the Lunar New Year’s Day) celebrations and the sense of closeness it brings. Over the weekend, Namsan Hanok Village and Cheonggye stream’s Gwangtong Bridge are two venues for festive events.
Namsan Hanok Village was founded in 1998, when five original yangban (noble class) houses from the Joseon Dynasty still remaining in the capital were relocated to the village. The village, located in Pil-dong at the foot of Mount Namsan in Seoul, used to be a popular spot for young students to gather and absorb the surrounding natural beauty. This historic location also served as the picturesque backdrop of the recent Korean movie, “Scandal” (2003).
The village, stretching for almost two acres, consists of two parts. One part encompasses Korean traditional houses, or hanok, and a garden, while the other part is a traditional park with a time capsule containing 600 everyday objects buried in 1994.
The five hanoks represent the originality of the aristocratic houses of the Joseon era. Four of the five houses (except the house of the architect Yi Seung-op) have one unique thing in common: the room for women only, or anchae, is located in the center of the home. The representative design of women’s quarters is the parental home of Empress Yun, who was the last empress of the Joseon Dynasty. This goes against the architectural trend of the time, which placed the men’s space, or sarangbang, in the center of the house. Because the original residents of the four houses were princesses or queens, the anchae was built to be the focal points of the houses.
The village holds cultural events for Korean traditional holidays year-around. An estimated 4,000 visitors, Koreans and foreigners, participate in the events. “We plan to increase the number of events in which visitors can experience the historic and cultural past of Korea in person. The events are for Koreans who can’t leave for their home towns to spend time with their families and for foreigners who want to experience Korean culture,” said Lee Young-don, the director of Namsan Hanok Village.
The festivities offer various events, such as Confucian ceremonies and lectures, which include classes on calligraphy, how to put on a hanbok and how to make kites and ritual food. Visitors can also eat rice cake soup, or tteoguk, made by Lee In-suk, a renowned chef of Korean traditional food. The soup will be distributed to 500 visitors on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The highlight of the three-day holiday is when visitors write their wishes for the new year on hanji, or rice paper, in five different colors. The paper, folded and tied with straw ropes, will be exhibited at the courtyard until the first day of the full moon, when the paper will be burned. This burning ritual is done so that the wishes reach Heaven. Typically, the ritual is lead by a person who has been named an Intangible Cultural Asset.
At Cheonggye stream, another event sponsored and organized by the Hanok Village takes place on the Gwangtong Bridge, near City Hall. As one of the stream’s nine major bridges, the Gwangtong Bridge used to be famous as the site for flying kites and “Daribalpgi,” a play dating back to the Goryeo Dynasty. People walk on the bridge in hope of protecting themselves from mishaps for the rest of the year.
by Jin Hyun-ju
At Namsan Hanok Village, no events require an entrance fee except for the kite-making classes, as participants are asked to buy the materials for 3,000 won ($3). The village is located 200 meters (218 yards) from Chungmuro station on line No. 3, exits 3 and 4. All events are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and start tomorrow and end on Sunday.
Gwangtong Bridge can be reached by walking about 300 meters from City Hall station on line No. 2, exit 4, or from the Jonggak station on line No. 1, exit 4 and 5. All events are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.
For more information, call (02) 2266-6923, or visit the Web site, www.hanokmaeul.org.