Monday, 25 February 2013

Lunar New Year at Namsangol Village

Back in November, I visited Bukchon Hanok Village, a small area in northern Seoul where visitors can explore traditional Korean houses, or hanok, preserved in a 600-year-old urban environment. However, Bukchon isn't Seoul's only hanok village. During Lunar New Year, or Seollal as it's known in Korea, Angela and I visited Seoul's other famous village, Namsangol, where several festivities and special events were taking place over the holidays. We saw several live performances, explored the village's traditional houses, and made a special Lunar New Year wish. Here are some photos we took.

Entering the village near Chungmuro metro station.
I still haven't worn a hanbok during my time in Korea, but I guess this is the next best thing.
We watched some traditional Korean dancing on the main stage just in front of the village.

Inside the walls of the actual village.
Here there were people lining up to write their New Year's wishes down.
Angela writes our wish down.
Couldn't have said it better myself!
Placing the wish on some string, alongside hundreds of other wishes. I've heard that it's common, during Lunar New Year, for people to attach their wish to a kite and then to set it flying. I don't know whether the string in the photo above was kite string, but I do like to imagine all those wishes fluttering into the sky after we left them.
Exploring the village further, we got to admire the quaint, traditional architecture of the hanok.

In this area people were stamping prayers onto pieces of paper.

During Seollal, people like to play various folk games, such as paengi, a spinning top game.

This old ajusshi was teaching people about hanja, the ancient Chinese characters sometimes incorporated into modern Korean writing.

We later returned to the stage to watch some more performances.

Exiting the village.
Re-entering the city.
Though not particularly big (you can easily explore the place in less than an hour), Namsangol Village is a pleasant little retreat if you need a peaceful break from the city, and Angela and I enjoyed sampling some traditional Seollal festivities there. If you're interested in visiting, the village is easily accessible and well-signposted from Chungmuro metro station on Lines 3 and 4.

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