Chuseok at the Korean Folk Village

Ahhhh, Chuseok. It always gets translated as Korean Thanksgiving, but it’s so much more. For Koreans, they all meet at the grandmother or oldest son’s house for several days of feasting and going “to the mountains” (where people were traditionally buried) and bowing to their ancestors. There is a ritual done with an altar of food and the bowing and it’s all a big deal.

For us foreign types, it’s a big long break from work. Which makes up for the one day for Christmas and nothing for Easter. Most Koreans are Christians these days, but most of them don’t even know the Korean word for Easter. Anyway…

I went to the folk village, which sounds like a horrid tourist trap, but most of which is tastefully done. There are people in traditional dress demonstrating traditional tasks like making fans, baling hay, spinning and weaving, etc etc etc. It’s a massive place. I hadn’t been in a few years and it’s gotten much bigger (and more expensive), I think because two very popular period dramas were filmed there.

Even though I’ve been five or six times now, I really enjoy it. It’s very quiet and peaceful, even though it’s almost as crowded as anywhere else in Korea. I think it’s the trees and lack of stereo speakers and people yelling at you to buy something.

We saw two drum line shows. I’m not much of a fan of traditional music of any kind, but Korean drums are pleasant, even with the high pitched gongs and even higher pitched horn. Anyway, all the drummers dance as they play. Some have to make a ribbon on their hat go in circles or the big feather go up and down as they are dancing and playing. Periodically, the gongers (is that what they are called?) also do no-hand cartwheels as they play. The youngest player (one of two high school students) had to do a solo. He played while hopping laterally over his ribbon as well as various moves that looked suspiciously like break dancing. It was like that event in gymnastics, but he had to play his gong the whole time.

At the end of the day, a huge moon was rising. Chuseok follows the Lunar calendar, so it’s always at the full moon.

Here’s a truckload of photos. There are more, but I’ll post them later.