Chuseok | Rice Wine in Insadong14 September 2016
It is officially Chuseok holiday here in Korea which means five day weekend for me! Chuseok is basically Korea's Thanksgiving. Many city dwellers head back to their hometowns during this time to be with their families, prepare all sorts of traditional food, and feast. That being said, Seoul is left a ghost town. Many businesses close down over this 3-day period while people are back home leaving foreigners to fend for themselves. Not actually though.
In Seoul, foreigners can still find many tourist areas and historic sites open to the public sometimes even offering special events or discounts! (The ticket prices for amusement parks are cut in half and you might be able to get into palaces for free if you wear a rented hanbok~)
My Chuseok plans will be full with meeting my friends here in Seoul and rediscovering the cool traditional neighborhoods I came to love the last time I was in Korea. My first stop on Day 1 of Chuseok was in Insadong to meet my lovely study abroad friends to catch up over rice wine and pajeon.
|Strawberry Rice Wine|
A couple habits you might pick up in Korea:
1. Makgeolli 막걸리 + Pajeon 파전 on rainy days
Makgeolli, Korean rice wine, and pajeon, a savory pancake dish, are a match made in tastebud heaven. AND they taste even better together on rainy days. They just do. Or, at least, that's what we have been led to believe by various Korean dramas and hype from Koreans that have left us craving the pair every time it rains. Even so, the sweet and sour kick of makgeolli combined with the often greasy and savory elements of pajeon is the perfect base for a night spent winding down with friends.
2. Pouring drinks for each other
Korea is all about jeong (정). It is an idea that doesn't really exist in English but in the most basic sense it means compassion, empathy, and bonding with the people around you. Jeong might explain why it is common for people to share meals together here and why they do not eat alone often, or even why business people often share drinks and bond at company dinners after working late hours. The necessity of showing respect to people higher (typically older) than you also contributes to the culture of people being very giving in small gestures. One of these include pouring drinks for others at your table before you pour your own.
We ate and drank at 인산인해 (een-san-een-hae) in Insadong. It's a nice open restaurant with views overlooking Insadong's main street. The menu featured many different types of rice wine and side dishes for alcohol (specifically called anju 안주 in Korean).
Address | 서울특별시 종로구 인사동
(Seoul, Jongro-gu, Insadong)
Take Line 3 to Anguk 안국 Station to get to Insadong!
Insadong is an area famous for its multitude of shops dedicated to traditional Korean culture, food, and crafts. Here you will find many traditional tea shops and little stores selling Korean art, wares, and potential souvenirs. Even though its Chuseok, the main street was certainly still bustling and full of foreigners until about 9pm.
Before heading home, we made a slight detour to check out a section of Changdeokgung Palace. Apparently, Korea's last princess stayed in this palace up until she died in 1989. My friend had recently watched a movie dedicated to the princess and was excited to see the palace. I think I may look into watching it soon myself!