The Hahoe Folk Village – registered on the UNESCO world heritage list in 2010 – is partly encircled by the Nakdong river in Gyeonsangbukdo, South Korea. This folk village is considered as one of the best folk villages in Korea – it has preserved a number of cultural traditions portraying the lives of Koreans during the Joseon Dynasty in the 16th century and many locals still call this sleepy village home; living their daily lives while visitors take a peek into their houses.
The remarkable Joseon architecture of tile- and thatched-roof buildings echo the lives of noblemen and servants while folk traditions – such as the famous Hahoe mask dance – are still present to this day at the folk village to ensure a full cultural experience.
The Hahoe Folk Village can be reached by bus no.46 or, if you’re up for a longer and more adventurous day it can be a wonderful bicycle trip. You can choose to take Road 34 from the Andong bus Terminal – an easy, mostly flat road of approximately 25km that passes through Pungcheon and a few cultural sights or you can opt for the Nakdong Bicycle Path.
The Folk Village offers various activities for young and old – traditional swings and games, the opportunity to make your own mask, to taste the 40% Andong Soju , to watch the mask dance and to indulge in the delicious Andong Jjimdak (broiled chicken).
The village possesses a very tranquilising atmosphere that can only be truly appreciated if you stay for a night or two. When the darkness of the night sets in Andong’s city lights are far away and it feels like the modern Korea lies miles into the distant future while you gaze at the stars.
There are numerous homestays in the village and for one night you have to fork out anything between $50 and $100. I found a “minbak” at the entrance of the village for $25 a night and it was a wonderful experience because it was the home of the famous Kim Jong Heung.
Kim Jong Heung is a master craftsman – here at the entrance of the Hahoe Village he makes jangseung, Korea’s traditional wooden totem poles, to keep evil spirits away. Photos of Jong Heung with Queen Elizabeth and George Bush are all over his house and workshop. Kim’s totem poles can be found all over the world – from Russia to Australia. He also plays a big role in the Hahoe Mask dance during the annual Mask Festival in Andong.
Everything about Kim Jong Heung screams of wisdom – it’s a pity that there is an English-Korean communication barrier, because I’m sure I can spend days and days with this man just listening to his stories about spirituality and his outlook on life, but what a privilege that I had the chance to meet him.
The Hahoe Folk Village gives you a different taste of Korea – the concrete, modern, light-polluted Korea feels far away and for a brief moment you’re locked in something that was with a bit of something that still is.
Take bus 46 from the Bus Terminal – the ride is about 45 minutes. Once at the Folk Village you have to purchase a ticket $1.50 that includes the shuttle bus fromt the parking area into the village.
There are no restaurants in the Folk Village, but there are restaurants at the entrance of the Folk Village offering Jjimdak (broiled chicken), Salted Mackerel, Bibimpap and a few other dishes.