Spend Seollal with traditional activities


Have you ever wondered how the ancient Koreans – for some of us, our ancestors – spent Seollal?

For curious souls, three Seollal events that showcase traditional culture and crafts are taking place in central Seoul, where one can partake in the spirit of Seollal by learning, experiencing and, for the most part, while having fun.

Although events have partially moved online due to the worsening pandemic situation, there are still plenty of opportunities to participate in festivals and events. Details and all schedule changes can be found on the official festival and event websites.

(1) Unhyeongung

Unhyeongung, the late Joseon-era palace in Jongno, is hosting the “Grand Unhyeongung New Year Festival” for three days starting Monday. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A “Folk Culture Playground” program is dedicated to visitors who wish to experience well-known Korean traditional games. Games include yutnori (traditional board game), jegichagi (outdoor game that takes turns kicking), tuho (throwing arrows into a pot) and gomujul nori (skipping on a rope rubber band while singing tunes). Those visiting alone shouldn’t worry, as the staff will also join teams to guide and play the game.

Another event is called yutjeom, which involves predicting your fortune for the year through the positions of the yut sticks you threw. Yutjeom was traditionally used to predict harvest season and fortune, as well as a person’s health and well-being.

A craft workshop that teaches you how to make maedeup, a traditional Korean knot craft, costs 5,000 won per person.

A raffle is held every day for the first 100 visitors, offering Unhyeongung-themed items as prizes.

(2) Namsangol Hanok Village

Namsangol Hanok Village, located at the foot of Namsan in Seoul, will hold a hybrid online-offline cultural festival, “Tigerish New Year’s Day (Hogireoun Seol)” from Monday to Friday.

On Seollal, Koreans wish peace and happiness to their families, while also wishing a fruitful and happy New Year to their neighbors. The “Hositamtam Seollal” event is designed with the same intention, but in a digital format.

Visitors can post photos of Seollal scenes on their Instagram accounts, with a hashtag Namsangol Hanok Village. The mission can be completed by leaving a message on the Namsangol Hanok Village event post. On Wednesday, a mobile coupon will be randomly sent to 20 participants.

The “Tiger Post” program invites visitors to share their New Year’s wishes on Namsangol Hanok Village’s social media pages. Staff members at the scene will mark your wishes on the wall of Lee Seung-up’s house. Lee, a master craftsman from the Joseon era who built the house himself, was also in charge of building Gyeongbukgung.

Those who visit Namsangol Hanok Village during the holiday season can write and post their wishes on the walls from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Namsangol Hanok Village is open throughout Seollal Holidays.

(3) Seoul Handicraft Museum

Officially opened in November, the Seoul Museum of Craft Art, located in Jongno, features a vast collection of 6,000 works by artisans. The library on the ground floor with some 10,000 archival documents on the subject of artistic craftsmanship is another attraction for visitors before and after visiting the exhibition. The museum organizes a program “Inscribe the New Year” for Seollal, offering two programs – takbon and munjado.

Takbon is a traditional Korean printing method using ink-soaked cotton pads to rub in engraved inscriptions or images.

Munjado, also called hyeokpil, is a calligraphy that combines letters and designs. The works are created to express a particular wish or a meaningful symbol.

The program is free to all visitors and is available Monday through Wednesday. Starting at 2 p.m., the two workshops last three hours.

Registration is only done on site.

By Kim Hae-yeon ([email protected])


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