The clear blue skies and bright sunny weather lasted all throughout this fine Chuseok Sunday – perfect conditions for exploring even more of Seoul’s many outdoor and indoor attractions.
Next on our itinerary: a traditional Korean village right in the heart of this modern city.
After my morning visit to see Gyeongbokgung’s newly restored royal kitchens, I rode the metro to Chungmuro Station and walked towards Namsangol Hanok Village.
The centrepiece of this open-air attraction is a group of five Joseon-era hanok – traditional Korean houses – that were carefully taken apart, moved from their original locations elsewhere in Seoul, and reassembled here on the lower slopes of Namsan. In addition to the houses themselves, various cultural activities and demonstrations, such as a traditional wedding ceremony, are held in and near the restored buildings.
And speaking of Namsan, one of the mountain’s most famous landmarks – the 236.7-metre tall N Seoul Tower – is clearly visible from the village. Whether this striking symbol of modernity adds to, or subtracts from, the old-world ambiance of Namsangol Hanok Village is a matter best reserved for personal judgement, but I must admit that the sight of the iconic tower and the classic tiled roofs together was a great reminder of what part of the world I was currently in.
The houses are clustered around a large open space that serves as the village square, where various family-friendly games and other pastimes were on offer. Some were probably Chuseok-related, though I imagine that there would be activities held here regardless of the season.
I loved the fair weather, but it was getting a little too warm for my taste. I took a moment to sip chilled pumpkin sikhye in the air-conditioned comfort of the onsite café, facing the village square. Other visitors improvised with their own resting arrangements, such as napping in the shade of the verandah attached to one of the hanok.
Although it’s not apparent from the images I’ve posted above (chosen to highlight the architecture rather than the clientele), the place was packed – perhaps even stiflingly so – by hordes of visitors taking advantage of the splendid weather … and, of course, availing themselves of the chance to enjoy some family fun on this major Korean holiday. As I made my way back to Chungmuro Station, the crowds only seemed to grow ever thicker, and I was somewhat glad to finally regain a bit of peace on my way to the next stop of the day.
To be continued.
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