Celebrating the holiday weekend, Korean-style

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Celebrating the holiday weekend, Korean-style

If you’re not joining the mass exodus from Seoul into the countryside this holiday weekend and don’t exactly want to lay around on the couch for three days, the city is offering a bevy of traditional performances and other events to celebrate Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving.

Venues across Seoul are hosting everything from concerts and theater performances to folk shows and food-focused events. Some will take place outside, others will be held indoors. Some are free, while others will cost a little. Take your pick and celebrate Chuseok by immersing yourself in the traditions and customs of Korea.

Folk rhythms and moves

If you are in downtown Seoul, make your way to the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, where you can catch traditional performances on Saturday and Sunday at the venue’s outdoor stage. The center will host a gayageum (Korean string instrument) concert by the Sookmyung Gayageum Orchestra on Saturday evening and a samulnori (Korean percussion music) performance by students of samulnori master Kim Duk-soo on Sunday night.

You can enjoy the shows free of charge, as long as you can find a place to sit.

If you would rather enjoy the shows at Mount Namsan, the Seoul Namsan Gugakdang near Namsan Hanok Village will feature the same performances in the afternoon on those days, although it will set you back 5,000 won ($4.22). Additionally, Gugakdang offers a class on traditional instruments for 10,000 won.

If you want more diversity, check out the Namsan International Folklore Festival, which runs until Sunday. It includes folk performances from around the world at various venues including Namsan Park, Seoul Plaza and Children’s Grand Park, among others.

Museums, palaces and theme parks

Museums are also readying themselves to host some “parties” during Chuseok.

The National Folk Museum in Gwanghwamun offers a wide range of options. From Friday through Sunday, visitors can participate in traditional activities such as making Korean masks and lanterns, trying dishes like songpyeon - or rice cakes - and learning about hanbok, or traditional clothes. Some activities are free, while others cost up to 7,000 won.

Similar programs, although smaller in scale, can also be enjoyed at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan. All programs there are free.

Royal palaces in Seoul such as Gyeongbok and Deoksu are open throughout the holiday, and those wearing hanbok can get in for free.

At theme parks in and around the city, visitors can enjoy rides as well as events that highlight Korea’s traditions. Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi, for instance, will offer folk games from Friday to Sunday, while Lotte World in eastern Seoul will feature the percussion band Dudeurak.

Additionally, the Korea Tourism Organization will hold special events at the Tourism Information Center, located in the KTO building in downtown Seoul.

By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

Namsan International Folklore Festival. Provided by the organizer

Traditional shows at the National Folk Museum in Gwanghwamun. Provided by the museum

Samulnori, or Korean percussion music, at Namsan Gugakdang. Provided by the organizer

Folk events at Lotte World, a theme park in eastern Seoul. Provided by the park

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