Hahoe Village and Andong Mask Festival

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October 6th 2012
Published: October 17th 2012
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6th Oct: Up far too early. I made my way to Seoul and onto the bus to take us to Andong. The bus journey was about 3 and half hours, not too bad. We stopped a couple of times on the way. We arrived at Hahoe Village around 12. We got off our coach and onto the regular shuttle buses that take you from the park's entrance to the main village. We took a five minute walk and then we arrived at our accomodation for the night.

Hahoe Village is an old style Korean folk village, however it differs from other folk villages in that people actually live there, so it isn't just for show. It's all preserved in the old style. The only spoiling factor is the sky dishes attached to the houses and the new cars parked in front of the houses. It's pretty cool that we were spending the night there. There are 125 housholds with 112 males and 120 females. After dumping our stuff in our rooms, we went on a short walk around the village and by the river.

Hahoe is the village from which the Ryu family originated and where its family members lived together for 600 years. The village is famous because it is the birthplace of the brothers Ryu Unryong and Ryu Sengryong. Ryu Unryong was a great Confucian scholar during the Joseon Dynasty and Ryu Sengryong was prime minister during Imjinwaeren (the Japanese invasion from 1592 to 1598). The Nakdong river flows around the village in an S shape and it's this that gave the village it's name, ha means river and hoe means turning around. Clever eh? Some people say that Hahoe resembles taeguk (two connecting spirals, they are on the Korean flag), while others see it as a lotus flower floating on the water or a boat gliding on the river. Also a 600 year old zelkova tree stands in the village. The tree is called Samsindang, as it is said that the goddess Samsin lives in it. All the houses face the river, in contrast to most Korean villages, where the houses face south or southeast. Another unique characteristic of the village is that the straw-roofed houses are placed in a circular shape around the tile-roofed houses.

Our walk around the village was really nice, as it wasn't too busy. We then took the shuttle bus back to the main gates to get some lunch, as this is where the majority of the restaurants were located. We had the traditional Andong dish of 찜닭 (Jjimdalk) for lunch. Jjimdalk is chicken cooked in soy sauce with noodles. Everyone raves about how good this dish is, however I think it has been hyped up too much and it didn't live up to my expectations. It was nice though and I had a couple of cups of makgeolli to help wash it down.

After lunch we returned to the main village area, and to the spot where they had set up a stage by the river. We watched them preform the Hahoe Maskdance drama. It was really fun to watch, however I wish that I knew the story as then it would of been easier to follow.

After watching the Maskdance we decided to explore the village some more. We spent a couple of hours walking around the village. The village is really pretty and quite serene. Eventhough there are other tourists there, it didn't feel crowded like some places in Korea do. I did feel a bit of a voyeur though, looking in to people's houses. But if they choose to live there they have to expect it. We then decided to head back to the river. There was a boat ferrying people across to the other side of the river, however by the time we got there it had finished. So we sat on the beach watching the sun set, drinking 동동주 (Dongdongju), which is just makgeolli.

Once the sun had set the traditional firework display began. The fireworks were like nothing I have ever seen before. Instead of being a single firework they were long ropes of them, that went from one side of the river to the other, raining down fire. It was really beautiful. In the olden days, normally in early or mid July, a scholar called a seonbi held a poem writing party by Buyongdae cliffs. They enjoyed other activities such as boat riding, fireworks, and egg-fire. Scholars not just from Hahoe but other villages got together. They rode boats out to the Rock of Brothers, and in the middle of the river, they anchored their boats and had a few drinks. As they were doing this hundreds of pieces of mulberry root charcoal began to burn on thick ropes extending from Buyongdae Cliff to Manseongjeong Pine Tree Forest. The dim light from the burning charcoal fends off the darkness and is called julbul. Also on the surface of the river they would float eggshells with a piece of cotton in it down the river. These were called Yeonhwa and were said to look like lotus flowers. Whilst this was going on, the scholars on the boats would be writing and reading poems, and singing and dancing.

Another game the scholars would play was to place a bowl containing a burning wad of cotton in the river and write poems until the bowl reaches the deep water in front of Okyeonjeongsa. If someone had finished writing a poem before the bowl had reached its finishing place, everyone esle would cry "Drop the fires!" together. When this happened some people on top of Buyongdae Cliff would set fire to bundles of dried pine trees and begin to drop them from the cliff. The pine trees bumped against the cliffs on their way down causing brilliant flames before falling into the river. However when we watched none of the bundles made it into the river and landed in a pit beneath the cliff. I wish they had fallen into the river. The fireworks were preformed until the 1930s. But they have recently started up again. It was really nice to witness.

After the fireworks we went and fouind some cup ramyeon for dinner, as we were starving and drank some more dongdongju. However all the shops in the village had closed by this point, so we had ran dry of alcohol. At this point I decided to call it an early night.

7th Oct: Woke up early this morning. Didn't have the greatest night's sleep as the floor was cold, I wish they had put the ondol on. However I was glad I had had a shower the night before when I was wearing my makgeolli jacket, as it would of been a bit too fresh this morning. Had a random breakfast of half a muffin, cheese, strawberry yoghurt, lots of coffee and orange juice. Around 9 ish we left Hahoe Village. The drive to Andong Mask Festival took about half an hour and our bus driver seemed to get lost, too.

When we arrived at the mask festival they were still setting up. So we went to get our tickets for the performances. We got one ticket included in the trip, so we could see one show. If we had wanted to see another show we could of just bought another ticket. Since the show we were going to watch didn't start until eleven. We had a bit of a wander around some of the stalls. We saw these creepy motorised tuk-tuk type things operated by cuddly toys.

Just before eleven we went back to the theatre to watch the dances. Fist up was Uzbekistan. There was a band of men playing instruments and they did a basket dance, Savat Raqsi. There were some girls dancing, then a guy with a basket, and in then a group of girls with baskets. Also in between there was people dressed up in costumes. The best was what looked like two people fighting but it turned out to be the guy, who had done the basket dance on all fours.

Next up was Malaysian, the dance troupe was called Bobohizan Mahasiswa Seni Sabah Malaysia. One of the dances was called Bobohizan. The Kadazan belief system centres around the spirit or entity called Kinorohingan. It revolved around the belief that spirits ruled over the planting and harvesting of rice, a profession that had been practiced for generations. Special rituals would be performed before and after each harvest by a tribal priestess known as a bobohizan. Another dance they performed was Koboi Timur. Koboi Timur is a New Creation dance, and a combination of the original dance of Kuda Pasu and Limbai that was popular among the Bajau people in the Kota Belud district. The community is known as "the cowboys of the east", because the Bajaus are expert horsemen. In Malaysia, this is their claim to fame, as horse riding has never been widespread anywhere else. The Bajau people are also well known for their weaving and needlework skills. During special events such as the harvest season they will ride their horses dressed in their colourful costumes. The dance imitates the movements of horse riding as well as weaving and needlework activities.

The Mexican dancers were excellent. They performed a modern contemporary dance called Viva Mexico (Mexico Lives). The dancers represented a popular Mexican game called 'Loteria' which came to New Spain (Mexico) in 1769. During the Mexican War of Indepence (1810-1821), it became a popular pastime for soldiers. The 'Loteria' uses images on a deck of cards and every image has a name. Each player chooses a board known as a 'tabla' they want to play with from a variety of different boards with different images. The current images have become iconic in Mexican culture, representing animals, plants, fantasy and epic objects.

The last to perform were a Korean dance toupe, Daha, they performed Confession of 1 and 1/2. It is a modern dance that shows the duality of human psychology derived during extreme psycholoigal states and pure logic. It's main theme was "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" presented as a fictional story and play to investigate pure human insticts. It was a story of autobiographical confession. The two contrasting human types in the original play and the extreme and destructive abnormal psychology are expressed in abstracxt modern dance based on modern dance and mime.

After the show we were feeling hungry, so we headed to the food tents that lined one side of the festival. I had some kind of beef stew, it was quite nice. Then we spent most of the afternoon looking around the stalls. I purchased some Andong soju. It's meant to be quite lethal, haven't tried it yet. When we grew bored of the festival we headed down to the river as we had also seen some tents there when we went past on the bus. Well, we managed to find a makgeolli festival. We bought some makgeolli and then found a bench under a pagoda near the river and sat there drining and chatting until it was time to leave for the bus back to Seoul.

Additional photos below
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This farmer wasn't happy with us all taking his photo, Hahoe Village

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