April 19, 2009 17:45
Taking the path that runs past the Mt. Namsan cable car's topside terminus, you can give your legs a workout by sauntering down the stone steps all the way to the base of the mountain. Hanging a right at the end of the stairs, there's a cluster of intimate cafés and restaurants well-suited to capping off a romantic visit to the N Seoul tower.
At any point along this road, one can hop on the yellow bus for a quick ride to the Namsangol Hanok Village, but take the walk to poke your head into the likes of the Quilting Arts Museum, Cartoon Museum and Animation Centre, Drama Centre and Literature House. You'll also pass the massive Seoul Youth Hostel along the way.
Unlike many palaces in Seoul, the Namsangol Hanok Village offers a picture of a wider cross-section of Chosun-era citizenry and activities, from royalty to workers. Great strides have been made to furnish each dwelling as accurately as possible, and interactive activities are offered periodically throughout the day, including music performances and the granting of Korean names to foreigners; the cost of activities ranges from W1,000 to 5,000. If you come on a weekend afternoon, you may be lucky enough to witness an actual traditional Korean wedding taking place, live musicians and all, with the wedding party in full regalia.
Along with the major palaces, Namsangol Hanok Village will be staging special performances, ceremonies and reenactments throughout the Chuseok period.
At the back entrance of the village, there's a nice greenspace leading towards the Seoul Time Capsule, found at the bottom of a symmetrical crater in the shade (or glow, depending if it's day or night) of N Seoul Tower. Enshrined in 1994 to celebrate 600 years as the capital, the capsule contains 600 items and artifacts related to the city and its history. It is planned to be unsealed in 2394, when Seoul will celebrate 1,000 years in existence.
Korea House, situated just outside the village, gives a taste of the Chuseok cultural experience all year-round. Visitors can enjoy a sprawling traditional meal (hanjeongshik) and a traditional show, or opt to attend the show only. Translations in English and Japanese are broadcast throughout the show for foreign visitors who can experience the full range of Korean performances: pansori (Korean opera), traditional instruments, dances and storytelling. Reservations are recommended in advance.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com