The arrival of fall in Korea brings with it Chuseok, the autumn harvest festival, which is one of the nation’s most significant holidays.
This is a time when extended Korean families gather to practice ancestral rituals, pay their respects to their loved ones, and enjoy a variety of traditional foods together. This year, the full official holiday runs from September 26-29. The dates differ every year on the standard Gregorian calendar, as they are based on the lunar calendar.
Technically, Chuseok falls on only one day, but luckily for business visitors in Seoul, most Koreans will be on vacation for days leading up to and after the holiday. This is because the majority of Koreans travel to other provinces to visit their relatives. While highways across the peninsula will experience heavy traffic, those staying in Seoul will be able to enjoy a more serene side of the city.
While the capital’s most popular attractions and landmarks draw strong crowds and tend to be difficult to access during normal periods, Seoul is more accessible than ever during the Chuseok season.
During this period many businesses and public facilities may be be closed. Business events attendees and organizers in town during this time are welcome to contact the Seoul MICE Help Desk for any MICE-related queries.
Visitors seeking to join in on the Chuseok fun may delight in a number of events that will be held for international visitors in Seoul during this time. Below are just some of the ways to celebrate the harvest festival right here in the city.
Namsangol Hanok Village (Five Noblemens’ Harvest Feast)
Those interested in Seoul’s more traditional side can visit Namsangol Hanok Village, a unique area of the city comprised of hanok, or traditional Korean houses. From September 27-28, visitors will be able to enjoy a plethora of Chuseok customs, such as making songpyeon (stuffed rice cakes) and playing Korean folk games. Guests who prefer to appreciate a more relaxing experience can enjoy demonstrations of ancestral rituals and performances of traditional Korean music.
Seoul Farmers Market
This event truly gets to the heart of Chuseok traditions, which celebrate the bounty of the harvest for another year, and reflects the nation’s historically-agrarian society. Taking place in Gwanghwamun Plaza, the third annual Farmers Market, operated by the Korea Agro-Livestock Association, will be held especially for the public. Over 100 booths will be set up for a variety of activities, such as traditional Korean food sampling, caricatures, and more. Held every Sunday until November 29, the market is open from 10am-5pm.
Nearest subway station: Gwanghwamun Station: (Line 5, Exits 1, 2, and 8)
The Great Rite of Sajik Daeje
The Sajik Daeje, which translates to the “Great Rite for the Gods of Earth and Agriculture,” is a traditional Korean ceremony dating back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), when the locals would carry out many rituals to honor the gods and ancestors, especially to give thanks for the year’s harvest and prosperity. This is regarded as a very sacred custom, but visitors will also be able to experience lively music and dancing throughout the event. The Sajik Daeje takes place on the third Sunday of September every year. This year, however, it will be held on September 28, from 11:15am to 1:30pm, at the Sajikdan Altar in Jongno-gu.