Monday, October 8, 2007

Hahoe Village

Samantha and I visited the Andong Mask Festival and Hahoe Folk Village on Sunday. The mask festival was much bigger than I expected (as many "international" festivals in Korea turn out to be local festivals where they hope to attract foreigners). There were artisans and performers from all over the Asian continent (and a few shout-outs to other continents in colorfully informative booths). We probably could have spent a lot longer wandering around the festival and seen some of the shows or tried some of the crafts demonstrations, but we didn't want to spend too much money (as it was I bought a beautiful necklace and a colorful scarf and was sorely tempted by some gorgeous pottery) and we wanted to check out the folk village.

Hahoe Village--because you know you love Korean scarecrows at least as much as I do, right?

Hahoe is a living history museum of sorts. The government makes an effort to support the residents of Hahoe in preserving the older customs of Korean country life. The village has both the thatched roof houses of the lower classes and the tiled roof homes of the educated yangban.

Juxtaposition of thatched and tile roofs

The residents have allowed their village to become a tourist destination, so some efforts at preservation are marred by the overwhelming presence of minbaks (hotels) and the fact that tourism is probably the main way many of these "farmers" support themselves.

A lone antenna is evidence of modernization. Yes, Dad. I was thinking of you when I took this picture!

However, wandering even a little bit off the main path, you will find the residents of Hahoe engaged in the daily tasks of Korea of old. Including, apparently, the important one of play fighting with metal pipes and then tossing the hay near a ditch around, at least until you notice the weird foreign lady watching you and run away.

Young Hahoe residents before I frightened them away

Besides looking at the breathtaking scenery and observing the older ways of life, the Hahoe Mask Dance Drama is performed daily on weekends by local actors. The masks are quite unique, with movable jaws that allow for many different expressions. Many of the actors were quite funny and the crowd was huge, so getting good pictures was difficult. I got some that were ok.

Here the drunk dude leans on the narrator (I think he was supposed to be either the scholar or the witty servant... It's hard to tell since I missed the first half of the show)

For great photos of the traditional drama, I refer you to Jane's trip to Hahoe (and just amazing photos in general that put mine to shame). Since it was the weekend of the Mask Festival, the village pavillion also hosted a mask dance group from the small country of Bhutan (don't worry--Shelly and I hadn't heard of it either...).

The costumes were fascinating and the athleticism of the performers was impressive

Since we arrived pretty late in the day, we didn't have time to take the little gondola across the river and hike up the mountain path. That's too bad, but I did get mask decoration Christmas presents for my family (and one for me, of course) and some cell phone tag decorations (very popular here) for Sa Beom Nim. I took some other photos of the performances and architecture/scenery of the village that you can check out on the Picasa album below.

Hahoe Village (Andong, South Korea)

The mask festival is an experience worth having again. It kind of reminded me of the DC Folk Festival around the 4th of July or even the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Many people even dressed up in the hanbok to attend (which is nowhere near as cleavage happy as the rennfest costuming, but still pretty cool).

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