The Kimchi-ite: Hahoe, A Korean Village That Time Barely Touched

Jonathan Kramer, Gadling

Less than an hour bus ride outside of the nondescript city of Andong in central South Korea, a little village doesn’t just hold onto the past, it embodies it. Hahoe Folk Village (pronounced Hahwe) has been inhabited for well over 600 years, with many artifacts and buildings considered to be Korean national treasures.

Today, it stands as a unique relic for visitors to experience an authentic view into a historic village. If it weren’t for the information center, the surprisingly cheap admission fee and the two guides I saw, Hahoe would seem as if it were just a small village that modernization accidentally passed over.

Jonathan Kramer, Gadling
Jonathan Kramer, Gadling
Surrounded by mountains on all sides, Hahoe keeps hidden from the modern world.

Representative of Joseon Dynasty traditions, locals roam and work in period clothes, transporting water in wooden buckets strapped to their backs and de-wrinkling clothes by banging on them with wooden pins. The number of re-enactors is kept to a modest handful, and they offer stories and information to those that are curious while letting those that just want to silently peek around do so.

Jonathan Kramer, Gadling
Locals walk around in period clothing, blending in with their historic surroundings.

At Hahoe, you’re mostly left to explore on your own through the alleys and farms, on the riverbank and into many of the homes and unattended museums. It’s an experience best taken at one’s own pace.

Jonathan Kramer, Gadling
Views from the top of the cliff showcase the river that snakes around Hahoe.

The Nakdong River snakes almost completely around the village, creating beautiful sandy banks that were no doubt an amazing place to cool off. The striking cliff that rises over the river, referred to as Buyongdae, offers fantastic views of the village from above.

Jonathan Kramer, Gadling
Hahoe is famous within Korea for its expressive masks associated with ancient shaman rituals.

Many of the historical homes in the area, most of which are hundreds of years old, are available to the public to spend the night in. Disconnect yourself from modern society and go back to simpler living as the rooms often push the term “basic accommodation” to its limits. They are often just a 7-foot square with a fan, light, traditional futon-style bedding and an electrical outlet.

Jonathan Kramer, Gadling
Many of the historic homes function as guesthouses, offering authentic rustic experiences.

For more stories about Korean culture, eccentricities and more, browse “The Kimchi-ite” archives by clicking here.

Memorial Day Type Place: Gettysburg

If you live anywhere near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania perhaps you were one of those kids I saw on a field trip when I was on my own fifth grade outing. Here, on what now is pristine rolling hills and wooded countryside, 50,000 people died in three days during the American Civil War. A friend of mine, a Civil War buff, considers Gettysburg his most favorite place on the planet. He swears the place has some sort of vibe he can feel.

It’s been awhile since I was in the 5th grade but I still have the blurry photos I took and clearly remember the Electric Map (at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitors Center), the wax museum, and the site where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. The Electric Map, still part of the visitors’ center, shows the movements of the northern and southern armies with colored lights that represent each side.

The wax museum, now called American Civil War Museum doesn’t seem like it’s changed much from its Web site description. I remember one exhibit scene had a wax soldier whose chest moved in and out with his breathing. Another scene I remember, Jennie Wade baking bread in her sister’s kitchen where she was shot and died, is also there. I forgot about her until I read the Web site for the museum.

Hovering somewhere between history and kitch, Gettysburg knows what people like to see. In a world where many places don’t stay the same from one year to the next, it’s comforting to know that in some corners things are like we remember. Here’s a read from The Washington Post about traveling to Gettysburg with some well-put commentaries.