Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seollal 2013 at the Korean Folk Village

Yet another post that took a year to get around to. Better late than never, I guess. 

One of the first (and one of the only, haha) things I learned how to say in Korean was "Happy New Year!" or, rather, "Please receive a lot of luck in the new year". I'd copypaste the hangul here since I don't have the ability to type it on this computer, but my exceedingly simple blog formatting doesn't take kindly to such things, so you're just gonna have to Google it.

Probably the most popular traditional game that's played with family members on this holiday is yunnori, the stick game. It's pretty fun, and my former manager can tell you how it's done:

For each major Korean holiday that I've been here I've tried to do something, well, Korean. The Lunar New Year I just posted about was spent at Everland, the DMZ and the noraebang, and last Chuseok (the autumn harvest holiday that everyone just calls Korean Thanksgiving) a Colombian acquaintance and I made the mistake of thinking that Gyeongbokgung, the largest of the five palaces, would be deserted. I mean, why would Koreans visit one of the biggest Korean historical sites in the biggest Korean city on one of the two biggest Korean holidays? Nonsense.

They were actually turning people away at the door, so we ended up drinking makgeolli and browsing at the nearby Insadong traditional market. Still counts!

There are often discounts and specials for foreigners on these holidays, as Koreans spend them with family, which means that Seoul is about as deserted as it ever gets. Last Lunar New Year, though, Si and I decided to head down to the traditional Korean Folk Village outside Yongin. 

Oh, and we went skiing at the Yangji Pine resort because it was crazy cheap for waygooks. 

By "went skiing" I mean that I attempted it for about an hour and gave up by the third time I ate shit, landing again and again on the same shoulder and rolling partway down the beginners' slope. And I wasn't even drinking :( 

Anyway, at the Folk Village, the running joke of the day was that the place was obviously a kitschy tourist attraction that didn't attempt to cling too closely to the genuine historical experience it promised, so everything became the "ironic traditional Korean et cetera", like the woman spinning silk who stopped to answer her traditional Korean smartphone. It was impossible to avoid the thick, quagmirey mud in the park because the thaw had set in. On the little folding pamphlet map I'd grabbed it mentioned a "traditional Korean dirt road experience", so I was like, "I'm pretty sure we're on that now", as our shoes slowly sank and we became hopelessly trapped somewhere between the traditional Korean convenience store and the oddly, not-quite-life-sized cardboard cutouts of famous actors with way too much plastic surgery on the traditional Korean period drama set.

My favourite bits were probably the the archery practice range (which you have to pay extra for, damn it), the mock medieval village and, of course, the snow sledding. The hill you can go down at Everland is complete garbage compared to the one at the Folk Village, so don't waste your time. As you can see toward the end of the first video below, the one at this place also has no lanes carved into the snow, so you can basically just embrace the spirit of wanton destruction, become a melee weapon and hurl yourself into adjacent visitors. 
The giant yunnori game would have been one of my favourites, too, had I known how to play it at the time. The sticks are about five feet long and are probably made of the same thick, foamy stuff as Funnoodles (you know, those colourful things you'd smack people in the head with at public pools in the 90's), so hurling them into the air looks like great fun. Even though I wasn't able to get the gist of the game from watching people at the time, I'd highly recommend it. I'd have much preferred to be drunk for all this, too, as no traditional Korean experience is truly complete without soju.

(traditional mortar and pestle experience)

(traditional photo saturation experience)

Traditional.. Ermm moving right along..

Unfortunately we were only able to catch one of the scheduled shows, but minus the excessive cracking of whips (that are only okay to use on people if they're into that sort of thing imo), it was actually really impressive. I can't say I've ever seen a guy jump rope on a galloping horse before.

(traditional Korean LoL fan admiring traditional Korean unicorn)

All said and done it was a nice day out, and it's one of those things you just kind of have to tick off the list if you're going to be here for a while.

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