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Fall Into Chuseok – Seoul-Style

September 9, 2013 DESTINATION No Comments Email Email

Business visitors to Seoul during Chuseok, also known as the ‘autumn harvest festival’ holidays, have a special opportunity to experience both the natural beauty and rich cultural tradition of Seoul in a short window of time.

sub1_6_img3Chuseok falls on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month, and this year it will be on September 19th, although the full vacation period for Seoulites runs from September 18-20th.

Staying in the city is highly-recommended during this time, as the highways and public transportation services leading out of Seoul will be filled with holidaymakers returning to their hometowns for the special holiday. Chuseok historically is when Koreans celebrated the year’s harvest by visiting their ancestors’ graves and paying their respects in the form of ancestral rites, the culmination of which is a traditional Korean feast. Today, it is better described as an annual homecoming where the whole extended family will reunite and celebrate together – which is why Chuseok often draws comparisons with the American Thanksgiving.

The shared feast is still a highlight of today’s Chuseok. Traditionally, a table filled with meats, fish, vegetables, and fruit is prepared and set next to the ancestor’s graves for the duration of the ritual. The food is purposely prepared with few spices in order to avoid offending the ancestors. In true Confucian fashion, once the ancestors have finished ‘eating’, the rest of the family will sit next to thesub1_6_img7 gravesite and partake on the delicious foods set on the table such as japchae (glass-noodles stir-fried with vegetables and meat) and songpyeon (small, oval rice cakes filled with chestnut paste or sesame seeds). Some of the ancient palaces in Seoul will hold special Chuseok events during the holidays, and it is one of the best ways for tourists to learn more about Chuseok traditions and even sample Chuseok foods.

For those who find themselves in Seoul during this period, the following is a list of Chuseok-related events that may prove of interest.

National Folk Museum of Korea

Located within the grounds of Gyeongbokgung, the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty and the largest of Seoul’s five royal palaces, the museum brings the everyday lives of ancient Koreans into color. Using replicas of everything from clothing to farming implements and tools, visitors can gain a powerful sense of life as it was for the locals centuries ago. Those who come during Chuseok will be able to enjoy traditional rice cakes and other foods, craft-making, learning folk songs, and more – and of course explore the palace grounds.

Namsangol Hanok Village

sub1_6_img10This inner district of Seoul still retains the architecture of the past through its many hanok, or traditional Korean houses. At Namsangol, a special experiential Korean folk village for tourists within the district, traditional rice cakes and alcohol will be on sale during Chuseok, and visitors can also enjoy traditional performances and get hands-on with traditional Korean activities such as ssireum (Korean-style wrestling) and kite-making.

Lotte World

Located in Jamsil, Lotte World is the world’s largest indoor theme park, which, in addition to being a popular family venue, has also been used by business visitors for incentive-based activity. Lotte World’s Chuseok visitors will be able to enjoy Arirang performances, traditional folk games, traditional craft-making, and more.

Chongdong Theater

The theatrical home of Miso, a Korean Romeo & Juliet-style traditional love story told through folk song, dancing, and more. Multilingual subtitles are projected above the action, making Misoan ideal after-hours entertainment option for groups of international visitors. During Chuseok, attendees can enjoy not only the play, but also traditional activities at a special ‘experience zone’.

Gwangjang Market

Established in 1905, Gwangjang was the first traditional-style marketplace in Seoul to open on a daily basis. The large and sprawling indoor market has changed little over the past century, and is an excellent place for groups to experience traditional Korea, as well as sample local delicacies and shop for items at competitive prices. Gwangjang Market will be open throughout the Chuseok holidays.

Event information subject to change – please check websites for more details starting in September

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