November 30th, 2003
Korea can be quite artificial as we see modern 4 line
highways, nested in between multi storey elevated highways against the backdrop
of small tight roads, reminiscent of former times. Over the last 100
years, the country has been overtaken by brutal occupation from the Chinese,
then the Japanese, finally to be liberated by the UN and US forces in 1953.
As the country struggles through to find its place in the modern world, it
leaves behind a history full of tradition unfortunately, is not witnessed by
In folk Korea, we found that homes tend to be made
of a combination of timber, brick (mud and straw) with little windows, timber
doors and a thatched roof – much like ones we saw three years ago back in South
Africa. The building you see
Jeanette standing next to in the left is a Dugout
Its made by digging up
the ground and a live charcoal pot was in the middle of it and finished the
floor with mud.
In the picture, you can also see a
watermill. This watermill has an
axle is connected to a cistern then
operates a heavy hammer to mill grain, to make flour.
As long as they have grain and a flowing stream, flour is made.
Generally, there are 5 major grain types we’ve seen in Korea – rice,
barley, wheat, millet and bean. Grain
collected by the farmers are milled to make flour, made into wine or simply
dried to make food for the winter.
red millet pictured right is also complimented by the normal beige variety,
which I was convinced is wheat. This
is not pictured because it looks exactly the same, except beige in colour. Corn,
technically not a grain is another food which is dried up and hung for the
winter. Actually, it is more
appropriately called maize is cultivated here in large numbers and often steamed
up and sold by the farmers. Be
careful, these are NOT sweet corn is generally tasteless.
these grain dried up in larger quantities in the provincial Korea rather than in
Seoul. So far, we’ve seen lots of
beans, seeds (for eating), seaweed etc sold in Korea.
These all come from traditional Korea.
The melding of the old folk Korea and the modern Korea makes it what it
is today. However, we really
enjoyed some of the folk Korean foods more than we did the modern fusion stuff
that must have just come off the Korean drawing board!
time of our visit, Autumn leaves have fallen, contrary to the picturesque
stories you received from us in the last episodes, the landscape is rather
barren today. Leaves have fallen
off trees, most fruits have fallen off (except from some red berry looking like
things which still needs a bit of investigation) and I guess, snow will soon
begin to fall. Firewood will soon
become very important – as they are desperately being dried now to remove any
trace of water – not wishing for smoke to form from their burning in the
winter I presume.
picture you see to your left is one of a raft with a straw shelter, used by the
Koreans as a fishing home. As there
are many rivers and lakes in Korea, this would be suitable for the calmer
We visited a
traditional wedding, where a local holy man is in presence. The drawn up
ceremony sees the bride make the necessary offerings and worship in front of an
altar, followed by the bridegroom all dolled up (literally) and flanked by two
maidens will be “offered” to the groom. Villages (we called then
“rent a crowd”) started dancing, banging their drums and other percussive
musical instruments to rejoice the wedding.
The happy couple then
was led away in a wedding procession - the man sitting up a donkey and his wife
in a little sedan chair beside him. The sedan was lifted by 4 men
in what the Korean’s do for leisure, we discovered a game called “Nolttwigi”.
This game, consisting of a
see saw (note: seesaw is not bolted to anything, the seesaw rests on a rolled
A wooden board, 3 m long, 30cm wide and 5 cm thick, is placed
with its centre buttressed by a bundle of straws. Two girls stands at opposite ends of the board. As one stamps
her feet on the board, the other soars into the air. As one descends, the other
rises up. Taking turns, the two partners continue to seesaw until one of them
Quite interesting but
rather difficult as we were embarrassed to find that elderly couples (pictured
to the right) would be able to play the game – younger ones have forgotten the
art. But as you can see, if
done right, the partners can be launched very high into the air.
They call this acrobatics.
By the way, the
pictured to the left is a professional acrobat, or at least we think she’s a
professional acrobat because she wore a costume, smiled a lot according to the
music and people clapped as they finished their performance.
music and dance
was performed by the farmers' band during seasonal farming
activities or in religious rites and festivals. The members of the band marched,
performed rites, and played musical instruments such as the brass gong, drum,
hourglass drum and large gong.
From what I understand, they dance to pays
homage to a good harvest and
publications we read during our visit said that the dance and music
consists of “delightful,
quick tempo rhythms, dances and shaman rituals tempered with various military
We found the experience
to be very colourful, lively and somewhat interesting.
We say somewhat interesting because there didn’t seem to have any form
in the rhythm of the drumming, just a whole lot of noise, colour and people
running around shaking their heads so that the ribbons attached to their heads
would fly in the air. I guess we
don’t appreciate this part of their culture enough, just yet.
We are looking forward
to coming home to Melbourne next weekend.
|The Sun God
|Bride in Traditional Korean Wedding
|Old couple playing Nolttwigi
|The Farmers Band|