Tag Archives: Andong

Andong Mask Dance Festival

Festival season in Korea is in full swing, and this weekend I went back to my old hometown, Andong, for their annual Mask Dance Festival.

The Mask Dance Festival is one of the biggest festivals in Korea. Mainly because there is so much culture and heritage centered around the Andong area.  One of the most famous landmarks being Hahoe village, a tradition village from the Joseon Dynasty period (16th century), which still maintains more traditional ways of life. It also happens to be a UNESCO listed heritage site AND was visited by the one and only Queen Elizabeth – something Andong-ers are very proud of!

There is always so much to do at festivals, and the Andong festival is no different. You can make masks, pop balloons, shoot paint ball guns, dance, eat, drink and, of course, watch the professionals do their thing!

This year I was very happy that I got to see my friend Dana’s 80 year old grandfather do a dance, which he has been rehearsing since I was in Andong in August!





I also got to see the famous Hahoe dance, listed as ‘Intangible Cultural Property Nr. 49’. Or was it 69?








There are also some international dance performances each year. This year dancers from 6 different countries came to show off their skills.

I also got to do non- festival things such as decorate a cake for my friend Dana’s granny’s birthday. Dana and I were also little piggies and managed to eat pretty much a whole plate of Jjimdak. It is so huge, but so delicious. Spicy and sweet.  Glass noodles, potatoes, carrots and chicken all boiled together to soak up the flavours. I would say that the only down side to this dish is that it is so incredibly good that you just can’t stop eating it. Also they put the chicken neck in there too, so be careful. The table next to us were perplexed why they had two necks in their dish, watch out!

That's a big plate of jjimdak!

If you ever get to eat this Andong delicacy please beware that the sauce is known to fly off the noodles as you slurp them up with the aid of 2 metal sticks. It has ruined many a white t-shirt.

Everytime I go back to Andong I find myself saying as I’m leaving, ‘Ok, I’ll have to come back one more time before I leave Korea.’ So hear is going back to Andong again before February!

As with that I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from the weekend. Enjoy.

Kate x

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Autumn in Korea

My favourite season is upon us here on the Korean peninsular. The evenings are cool, the days are sunny and warm. The festivals have started in full force. The trees are putting on a show of red, yellow, brown and orange. Classrooms aren’t stuffed full of sweaty smelling boys. Scarves and hats and chunky knitted jumpers are donned as we make the (hopefully) slow start into winter.

It’s October already. Autumn is here. When did that happen?

While we are on the subject of seasons it must be noted how proud Korean people are of their 4 seasons. They will curiously ask ‘Are there 4 seasons in your country?’ And don’t seem too convinced when you tell them that yes there are, but that the seasons aren’t so extreme. We do get spring flowers. It does get cold in winter, we even have snow. Imagine that!

With that being said I must admit that the seasons here in Korea are, compared to what I know, very admirable.

Mt Sorak ablaze with colour

Especially autumn. Seeing the mountains, which make up 70% of Korea, ablaze with colour  is amazingly beautiful.

Finally we can actually go outdoors without getting our clothes soaked, either by our own sweat or the torrential downpours. Which means only one thing: FESTIVALS!

The autumn season is over run with festivals. This weekend it was the Lantern Festival in Jinju (more about that soon), next weekend it’s the Mask Dance festival in Andong, the International Film Festival in Busan, Global Gathering in Seoul. Next it’ll be the Fireworks in Busan… you get my point. And those are only naming a few of them! (See all of them here). There is a festival for everything and for anyone. It’s fantastically great.

So with that: welcome autumn. It’s going to be a busy one!

Going back to Andong

Yesterday I made the trip back to Andong, a small town in the Gyeongsanbuk province of Korea. I lived in Andong for a year, and left there in February of this year with a mixture of feelings.

I went with a friend and old co-worker of mine, Dana. She invited me to go and stay with her at her grandparent’s home. It is a home and family that I love. Dana’s grandmother greeted me just as enthusiastically as she did her own granddaughter, and then thrust food upon us, something that continued for the next 24 hours! I came home, to Gumi, feeling a few kgs heavier and a little lighter in my soul.

Going back to Andong gave me the chance to reflect on what it actually meant to live there. I realised that in one year I had become a little part of the fabric of that community. That, somewhere in the minds, and hopefully hearts, of some people, I would be remembered. That I had made an impression on them. The old woman who I used to try to practice my Korean on, clapped and laughed when I went to say hello to them. They wondered where I had gone. They were happy to see me. I could tell my the size of their smiles and their curious eyes. The pavement felt familiar underneath my feet. I could see my past self walking to and from the farmer’s market to buy my weekly groceries. I felt my feet running along river side park. I heard my friends’ voices and laughter.  I looked for my old students and co-workers’ faces in everyone I came across.

My time there had, on the whole, been really good. It was in Andong that I came to love Korea, the food, the country side, the people, the soju and beer hofs, the teaching and the culture. Amongst all the good times were also some not so good times. I struggled with relating to and understanding my co workers and the Korean work culture. I had trouble with out-of-control students and how to effectively teach them.

Andong represented many things for me. It gave me the fresh start that I needed and it was the place where the journey that I am currently on started. It is where thoughts and ideas that I had previously felt too afraid to let surface, came alive.

Going back to Andong, above all, made me realise that the most important thing that we can do is to foster good relationships with people. To cherish our friends and to know, especially when travelling, that even though the flow of relationships is so transient in terms of place, that they don’t have to end, and they won’t if you don’t let them!

Kate x

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