Andong Mask Festival 2013

Andong Mask Festival mask dance theater

Last year I discovered the existence of the Andong Mask Festival, but was too lazy to go to it. Instead I spent my fall researching all the different sorts of fall activities I would do my second year in South Korea. I am very glad I did go to this festival, because it is large and interesting, as are most Korean festivals.

Andong Mask Festival signs

The main festival site was located in town a short bus ride (or taxi ride) away from the Andong train station or the Andong bus station. If you take the bus directly from the train or bus station, walk down the main street (left from the train station or right from the bus station) to the bus stop (don’t cross the street like you would if you were going to Hahoe Maeul Folk Village first). However during the festival, the same bus (#46) will connect the Hahoe Maeul Folk Village, the bus and train stations and the festival site on an hourly basis.

Andong Mask Festival site

There were multiple things to do on site. There was a theater to watch Korean mask dances or foreign mask dances throughout the day. There were stages for different musical concerts. There were different booths for foods and art products. There were plenty of toys and games for children to play, since most Korean festivals are very much family friendly and offer activities and experiences for the whole family or even just individuals like myself. There were even strange things like these robot rickshaws you can ride (I admit that when I first saw them, I thought they were children in costume pulling these rickshaws).

Andong Mask Festival robot  rickshaws

There were also exhibits of different masks around the world, since this was not just a Korean mask festival, but it incorporated mask traditions from different countries.

Andong Mask Festival mask exhibit

Andong Mask Festival masks of the world

While I was there, I took in a mask dance performance. There were different performances of both Korean and foreign mask dances at regular intervals throughout the day, and I chose to watch the Eunyul MaskDance. Each performance was only 7,000 won (less than $7 USD) for an hour long show. All these different dances had different tableau performances, though I will admit I wasn’t exactly sure what the story was. I just enjoyed the traditional folk music and seeing different folk traditions play out before my eyes.

Andong Mask Festival mask dance group scene

Andong Mask Festival dragon dance

Andong Mask Festival group dance

Andong Mask Festival couples dance

Andong Mask Festival ribbon dance

And like most fun Korean festivals, there were experience booths to make your own mask.

Andong Mask Festival mask experience booth

You picked a booth that had the type of mask you are interested in making (there are multiple booths with different sorts of masks depending on your interests). Making your own mask only cost 5,000 won. You picked a mask and you were given a craft table and a mask decorating kit. The kit consisted of colored granular glue (white, black, red, yellow and blue). You can mix and match the colors to make whatever sort of color you want and you can decorate your mask in whatever design you want. I chose my particular mask, because it reminded me of a butterfly. I adore the color purple, so I used up all my red and blue to make the purple outline. I ultimately ended up using my university alma mater’s colors, the University of Washington ¬†purple and gold (or yellow in this case). As I said, I was going for a beautiful butterfly, but in the end it looked more like a Mexican wrestling mask. But it’s my creation and I love it anyway.

Andong Mask Festival my artistic creation

If you are curious about masks, mask dances, the Andong Hahoe Maeul Folk Village, or just want to enjoy a pleasurable afternoon at a traditional Korean festival, I highly recommend the Andong Mask Festival. The festival lasts two weeks every year, usually the last weekend of September and the first weekend of October. Andong is an easy day trip from Seoul, and you can easily take the bus or the train to and from the festival.

Andong Hahoe Maeul Folk Village

Andong Hahoe Maeul cliffside view

The previous weekend, I made my way south to Andong for the Andong Mask Festival. The two-week annual festival is held in two main areas: the Mask Festival site in town (the subject of the next post) and the Hahoe Maeul Folk Village. If you’ve been to the Korean Folk Village in Suwon, the first thought could be that this village is another sort of museum. However, this is a real, living village for people to live and work.

Andong Hahoe Maeul thatched huts

Hahoe is a village where the Ryu family originated and where its descendants have lived together for 600 years. The tile and thatched roofed homes have been preserved for hundreds of years (though undoubtedly reinforced with modern construction), even though the village dwellers have modern conveniences like cars, electricity, running water, indoor plumbing and satellite television.

Andong Hahoe Maeul Bukchon Residence

Andong Hahoe Maeul thatched hut with fluffy dog

The village is a pleasant place to spend a couple hours. Visitors can walk through the village peacefully among people living their lives. There are restaurants and stores for visitors, and there are just normal homes for individuals to live their lives.

Andong Hahoe Maeul stone walkways

Andong Hahoe Maeul flower lined street

The village is tucked among the surrounding mountains and is set along the Nakdong River, which flows are the river in a S shape and gives the village name. Ha means river and hoe means turning around.

Andong Hahoe Maeul thatched hut autumn scene

Andong Hahoe Maeul home with trees

Andong Hahoe Maeul hut with orange berry tree

Visitors can walk around the village and peek into open doorways of walled homes to get a glimpse of normal village life.

Andong Hahoe Maeul doorway view

Andong Hahoe Maeul thatched roof  hut

In the center of the village resides the Samsindang, called the Samsin Goddess Tree. The zelkova tree is 600 years old. The tree is in the residence of the Samsin Goddess, who oversees pregnancy and child birth. Visitors can leave wishes around the tree.

Andong Hahoe Maeul Samsin Goddess tree

When you are done walking around Hahoe Maeul, you can cross the river on a small ferry for a small fee for a round trip (there is no bridge across the river anywhere near the village) and hike a short way up Buyongdae Cliff for a beautiful overlook of the village below (the lead picture on this post). You can also see the crop fields that surround the village and the river as it stretches around the village.

Andong Hahoe Maeul crop fields

Andong is very easy to reach from Seoul by public transportation. There are numerous daily buses from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, but I prefer the train if there is that option. Most of the trains leave from Cheongnyangni Station (a stop off subway line 1). There are approximately seven trains daily and the direct train ride lasts approximately four hours.

From the Andong train station, Hahoe Maeul is pretty easy to reach, but don’t make the mistake I did. I got on the wrong numbered bus and it wasn’t just the wrong bus, but it was also heading in the wrong direction. I’m normally very good with directions, but sometimes I have to guess when it comes to vague directions. My guide book said I could take the #3 bus and it was supposed to go to Hahoe Maeul. That is not true. I ended up at the Andong Culture Complex (I saw that on the bus, and thought that was the right destination) and there was no one around and quickly figured out I was in the wrong place. Thankfully another bus came along shortly after that and I went back to the train station. If you take the bus to Hahoe Maeul, you need to take bus #46. Cross the street from the train station and head left to the bus stop. There are buses to the village approximately once an hour, and the trip takes approximately 30 minutes. However, if you don’t want to wait, you can easily take a taxi to the village, and the cost will be approximately 30,000 won (less than $30 USD depending on the exchange rate).

Hahoe Maeul is an interesting view into how villages used to look several hundred years ago, but it blends well into the modern world.