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Published: October 27th 2006
After the conference ended, I decided (beforehand) that I needed to do some traveling. I hadn't traveled much outside of Yeosu and my little corner of the world, and since I was in Korea's far east (Gyeongju is about 4-5 so hours from me), I decided to stick around there a little longer. So, a fellow Fulbrighter (Colleen--she lives in Yeosu, too) and I headed north to Andong for a few days (a small town of maybe 150,000-- small town for Korea) and then to Busan for a few days more (the second largest city in Korea and on the far southeast coast).
Andong was amazing because while we were there, they were hosting their annual Mask Festival, which comes only once a year. At this festival, they have dancing, food, tents of merchants, and all kinds of fun. Especially, it highlights the local traditional mask-making and mask dance-- the Hahoe mask dance. The Hahoe (pronounced Ha-hey, approximately) mask dask/making is known all around Korea. It is a dance that has been around for a mighty long time and was originally used as a satire of the everyday world. It includes satires of a Buddhist monk, a widow, a promiscuous-ish
woman, etc. etc. It was pretty cool. They had traditional drumming and music during the dance and monologue breaks. Of course, the monologues were in Korean, but I'm fluent now, so it's okay.
Well, not really fluent. I mean, high beginner is close, but...
No, they had scene summaries that we read before the show, so we native English speakers knew what was going on. Fortunately, as we traveled Andong, another Fulbrighter who teaches there (Noelle) gave us the grand tour and took good care of us (along with her host family). Colleen and I stayed in a jim-jil-bang-- the only way to go, really (but, of course, after two nights of that, in Busan we opted for a motel).
Let's see, other places we saw:
--Dosan Confucian School, a school-type property established by a famous Confucian scholar on/before the 1500's, I think. The most amazing part is that it is on the back of the 1,000 won bill (equivalent to the US $1 bill). Who knew?
--Bongjeongsa Temple, another Buddhist temple, which is supposedly the only place in Korea you can see the architecture from 3 dynasties at one time.
--Andong Icheondong Seokbulsang, a huge,
stone statue/carving of Buddha dated sometime between 930 and 1400 AD.
So, a good time was had by all, sightseeing, jim-jil-banging, and such.
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