Monday, 7 October 2013

Hahoe Village and Andong Mask Festival: Part 1

One recent weekend, Angela and I went on a WINK ("When in Korea") trip halfway down the country to the culturally rich region surrounding Andong. We spent saturday at the UNESCO world heritage site, Hahoe Village, before heading to the Andong Mask Festival the following day. The festival celebrates Korea's historical use of masks in warfare, shamanism and ritual dances.

It took a few hours on the bus before we arrived at a visitor centre near Hahoe Village.
As we entered the village we were greeted by dozens of jangseung, Korean totem poles traditionally placed around the village boundary to frighten away demons.
This was our first view of the quaint, Joseon period-style houses of Hahoe. The village was established in the 1500s, and is one of the few historic communities in Korea to have retained this traditional architectural style that has been lost elsewhere due to rapid industrialisation.
Before exploring the village however, we headed north of the settlement to the banks of the Nakdong River, which wraps around the village and surrounds it on three sides. On the opposite bank of the river, we could see Buyongdae Cliff, which is one of the best spots to get a view over Hahoe.

Near the banks of the Nakdong we saw our first mask dance performance. We didn't really understand what it was about, but it had a strangely sensual and spiritual quality that was hard not to appreciate.
Then we headed to the village to drop off our stuff at our pension, which was located right in the village itself. It was exciting to be spending the night in this sleepy, historic village in the middle of the Korean countryside.
Peering inside one of the village's buildings.
We returned to the stage to watch some more mask dances.
Many of the dances were quite comical in tone, one even featuring this urinating bull.
A baby from the audience out-dances a village drunk.
After an hour or so watching dances, we hopped on a boat to cross the Nakdong to Buyongdae Cliff.

Beginning our ascent up the side of the cliff.

The stunning view of Hahoe from atop the cliff.

A cool insect we saw on the way back down.

Back on the other side of the river, we watched some more mask dances for a while...
...before finally exploring Hahoe Village.

A lot of the houses had squashes, cucumbers and other vegetables hanging over their roofs.
Persimmons seem to abound during Korea's autumn months.

It was interesting watching locals go about their business in this tiny village that felt like a place from the past.

This Korean fir was planted by Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate her visit to Hahoe Village in 1999.

That evening we saw a very brief fireworks display at Buyongdae Cliff. The explosions made the cliff look like an erupting volcano.

Click here to continue the adventure in Part 2!

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