And happy weekend! Did you all have a nice week?
I bet that most of my fellow students and all working people in Korea were quite excited to have a week of. What was the occasion?
South Korea just finished celebrating one of their biggest National Holidays called Chuseok.
Let me tell you all about it.
I have heard many times Chuseok being regarded as the “Korean Thanksgiving”. Although it is a nice way to make it more understandable for foreigners, it is actually a bit different. Family members from near and far come together to share food and to give thanks to their ancestors. Many Koreans visit their hometowns in and travel around meeting all their relatives.
This year, Chuseok Day falls on October 4. As the day before and the day after are also part of the holiday, this year’s full holiday period will take place for ten days at the longest, from September 30 to October 9, including the weekends, National Foundation Day on October 3, and Hangeul Day on October 9. It is really nice to have so much free time, but my college has become a ghost town. For us, the foreigners, it is more about figuring out what to do when everyone leaves and stores shut down. Doesn’t sound like fun anymore right?
Well, we could be studying but…
Let’s Go Sightseeing
Since my arrival to Korea I didn’t, unfortunately, have yet enough time to properly explore this country. Unless you count food. I have seen a lot of it. I always make plans to see certain touristy spots but just now I finally did it. With a couple friends we decided to take the proper tour of traditional Seoul places to immerse ourselves into history.
And we were not the only ones.
Our first stop was the biggest and arguably the most beautiful palace in Seoul. Part of the five main Seoul Palaces, Gyeongbokgung (경복궁) is a popular Chuseok destination. We quickly found out how true this was trying to squeeze through the insane amount of tourist and families alike. Many people also showed up wearing the beautiful traditional Joseon dress Hanbok. I need to say I respected them for surviving it in the heat.
After touring the palace we moved into the Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골한옥마을) and it was a great idea. Located only couple stations away from the palace and in the heart of Seoul, the village is a beautiful place to go. More like a huge park with a number of preserved old buildings I fell in love with the scenery and the green. All filled with nice clean paths, waterfalls and multiple places to go and explore the history. Exclusively during Chuseok you could have tried some traditional games or like me, go punch some rice cake (see the video.. 🙂
There were definitely many more historical sites to visit, but we had our share for the day.
Pancakes For Dinner
Each holiday is also linked to some kind of traditional food. Chuseok is more than complex with it’s family gathering food but one simple is the main. It is Jeon (전). Described as the Korean pancake Jeon comes in many varieties and tastes. The common way to prepare this dish is to mince some meat, seafood or vegetables, coat them in batter and egg (or some can be without it YAY) and fry it. Not the healthiest but certainly a tasty dish not to be missed. You could even find a flower sweet jeon.
This evening we headed to our favorite neighborhood Hongdae and sat down in a cozy popular Jeon pub. Unfortunately all of their jeon included egg but I got to enjoy the BEST Dubu-kimchi (두부김치) I have ever tried. A perfect combination of warm stir fried kimchi with seasoned tofu made this Chuseok even better.
I almost forgot the drinks. Jeon is best paired with Korean traditional liquor Makgeolli (막걸리). Type of rice wine, it is very light and sweet, often even flavored with corn or chestnut (as we had). I personally really like Makgeolli but everyone should not be fooled by it’s almost alcohol free taste – it can kill you.
Enjoying this amazing dinner and chatting with friends I managed to celebrate this Chuseok in all it’s glory even being a foreigner. No matter what, you can always find a way to enjoy your time right.
What would you like to do on Chuseok?
See you next week.