We spent Saturday experiencing Korean traditional life at the Korean Folk Village in Suwon with Mr Ha and his family. We couldn’t have had better tour guides – Mr. Ha personally remembered many aspects of the traditional rural life. He grew up on a farm in a big family with seven siblings. As we walked through the various separate living and cooking buildings, he explained that the huge covered cooking pots were vented through a system of pipes in the floors which warmed the various rooms. He said, “We Koreans had warm feet and cool heads.”
The village has more than 250 thatched and tiled buildings, moved there from around the country. We were so impressed with the thoughtful presentation and authenticity of this village; costumed people demonstrated musical instruments, weaving with bamboo, spinning silk from the cocoons, pounding rice into flour, and more. We saw a traditional wedding ceremony and were standing in just the right place to capture on video the exiting wedding party with the groom on horseback and the bride being carried in a palanquin.
The grounds were rich with the texture of graceful stonework and intricate woven thatch, and the air was sweet with spring blossoms. By far, the cutest features in the village were the two Ha kids, dressed in traditional costumes (hanbok) and thrilled to have a Saturday away from their studies. We enjoyed some traditional treats at the village. Here’s pajeon, a pancake with wild onions which seriously rivals German potato pancakes. (Website is http://www.koreanfolk.co.kr)
Squid Spectacle. For dinner that night, at a traditional neighborhood Korean restaurant with the Ha family, we did some Anthony Bordain style eating. Seriously. First we met our flounder, and soon after we saw him served up on ice in the form of sushi. Since I have befriended and even named flounders on many occasions while snorkeling, this took a bit of mental maneuvering (I’m kind of new to sushi eating). But that wasn’t the main event. Before our flounder made his second appearance, we had squid tentacles – raw and (OMG) squirming. We were assured that the animal was dead, but clearly, the tentacles were clueless to this fact. Against all odds, grasped in chop sticks, the tentacles fought for suction on the bottom of the sesame dipping sauce. (We were informed that occasionally the squid gets the upper hand – upper tentacle – and a few people actually die each year in Korea by choking.)
Okay, I wasn’t going to go on about that squid eating experience, but in this country there’s a squid greeting you everywhere you go – in the live tanks in front of seafood places, dried in the markets, and larger-than-life on cartoon-like statues outside of restaurants. We found them fresh from the sea, drying on clothes lines in the sun on Jeju Island. So it’s just not possible not to talk about the raw squid thing.
And yes, it tasted good.
Martha – Madly Traveling Asia with Faucet Marketing Husband</font>