After my time in the beautiful nature of Seoraksan National Park it was time to experience the Korean countryside. The Hahoe Folk village in Andong was the perfect opportunity to do this.
Journey to Andong
Thanks to a quick call to the Tourist Hotline I knew what time the bus was leaving from Sokcho Intercity Bus Terminal. After buying something for breakfast at the nearest kiosk I hopped on the bus, which was another very comfortable bus with only about 20 extremely spacious seats. In about 3.5 hours the bus took me to the bus terminal of Andong. However, the bus terminal I arrived at was not the bus terminal that was on the map of my Rough Guide. Instead of a in the city centre we were dropped off at a brand new bus terminal at the west border of the city. At first I hadn’t noticed this and together with another German backpacker that was with me on the bus I started walking in (what we thought was) the direction of the train station. After a few hundred metres we noticed that the train station was nowhere near us and tried to ask some people where we were. Unfortunately nobody was able to help us in good English, so we decided to hop in a cab. Fortunately my Rough Guide was able to tell me the Korean for ‘train station’, although it took us a while before the cab driver understood what we wanted.
A comfortable intercity bus departs from Sokcho Intercity Bus Terminal and takes you to Andong Bus Terminal.
Departures: few times a day
Ticket: 24.400 KRW
At the train station I quickly stopped by the tourist information office to get some information on how to get to Hahoe Folk Village and asked for the schedule of the bus to Gyeongju, my destination for the following day. Somebody at the tourist information has created a very helpful flyer that shows a map with all the restaurants and shops around the Food Street area and the important bus stops and departure times to tourist attractions in and around Andong. Be sure to grab a copy.
Since I had some time left before my bus to the Hahoe Folk Village would depart I decided to grab some lunch at Jaelim Galbi, the best galbi restaurant in town according to my Rough Guide. However, I decided to go for a delicious bulgogi, that was served with a great selection of banchan.
Hahoe Folk Village
After lunch I hopped on the #46 bus to Hahoe Folk Village (40 mins, 1.200 KRW). Besides the shops and restaurants I don’t think there’s that much to see or do in the city centre of Andong. The most interesting tourist attractions lay a bus ride away. One of those interesting sites is the Hahoe Folk Village, a mall town on the countryside, some 20 km outside of Andong. Although it’s name may make you think this is some kind of museum where actors pretend to live the traditional Korean life, this is not the case. The village is a fully functional community where people live and work, mainly on the fields around the village. This makes it very authentic. The special thing about this village is that is open to tourists. You are invited to have a look in and around the houses, which in some cases date from the early Joseon Dynasty, and experience the traditional Korean lifestyle. Besides having a look at the village during the day, it is also possible to stay at one of the minbak for a traditional homestay.
The Hahoe Folk Village is a fully functional community on the countryside, some 20 km outside of Andong. Hahoe Village is home to descendants of the Ryu clan of Pungsan and is well-known for its traditional houses, dating from as early as the early Joseon Dynasty. Surrounded by rustic scenery the village is the perfect opportunity to experience the traditional Korean life on the countryside.
09:00 – 18:00
TIP: Stay at one of the minbak to experience the village when the majority of tourists have left. The tourist information in Andong is happy to help you book a room, although this it is usually not necessary to book in advance outside the high season.
TIP: The Hahoe Mask Museum lies a short walk from the Folk Village entrance and displays the traditional Korean as well as foreign masks.
When I arrived at the Hahoe Folk Village I went to the tourist information to get some help finding a minbak. A helpful English speaking lady showed me the location of the minbak‘s and offered to phone one of the hosts for me. Apparently she was just on her way back from the city, so she was able to pick my up with her car at the entrance. A few minutes later a car pulled over and a friendly short Korean lady waved me to the car. Unfortunately the only English she spoke was the price of the stay, which was an astonishing 60.000 KRW per night. I guess this price is quite OK if you’re staying with 4-6 persons in the room, but for a single person I think that’s a bit expensive for an empty room with only a few blankets and ondol floor heating.
After making a 18:30 dinner appointment (another 8.000 KRW) with my host I went for a walk around the town. Since it was already near closing time the amount of tourists was decreasing rapidly. In the same slow pace that life seemed to have in the village I strolled around past the beautiful old houses while the sun was slowly setting, giving the yellow rice fields a golden glow.
Suddenly my host stopped next to me in her car and gestured I should jump in the car while saying ‘dinner, dinner!’ in Korean. Apparently dinner was ready, although it was still only 18:20, and she had been driving around the village looking for me. When we arrived back at the guesthouse my dinner was already waiting. The table full of dishes was way too much for me, especially since I had such a big lunch. The taste, however, was delicious.
After dinner I walked around the village some more to take some pictures at night. Most homes where closed by then and the streets empty.
Dosan Seowon Confucian Academy
The next morning the village was covered in a dense fog, giving it a very mysterious atmosphere. Without taking breakfast I said goodbye to my host and took the earliest bus back to Andong. This way I was able to visit the Dosan Seowon Confucian Academy before heading to Gyeongju. Back in Andong I had some time left before the bus to Dosan Seowon would leave, so I dropped my backpack at the train station, grabbed some breakfast and walked around the city centre for a bit. Afterwards bus #67 took me to Dosan Seowon (50 mins, 1.200 KRW). By then the fog had cleared and the sun was shining bright, showing off the beautiful scenery along the road.
The scenery kept improving until I reached the academy. The Dosan Seowon is located on top of a steep riverside with a beautiful view over the valley and surrounded by dense forests. I was one of the few tourists around, which supported the peaceful atmosphere of the area. A voluntary guide gave me a free tour in English around the complex.
The Dosan Seowon Confucian Academy was built in 1574 in honour of Yi Hwang, a well-respected Korean Confucian scholar, also known as Toegye. Toegye and Dosan Seowon are featured on the 1.000 KRW bill. Dosan Seowon was well known in Korea as one of the leading academies and was home to the Toegye School of Thought for over 400 years. Although the educational function of the facility has long since ceased, the commemorative ceremonies have been and are still held twice a year.
09:00 – 17:00
By bus I went back to Andong, had some lunch and went to the bus terminal to grab the intercity bus to Gyeongju. In my next blog more on my visit to Gyeongju, capital of the former Silla empire.
A comfortable intercity bus departs from Andong Bus Terminal and takes you to Gyeongju Bus Terminal.
Departures: 4 times a day
Ticket: 12.000 KRW