A city in Korea that piqued my interest is Andong as it’s called the “capital of Korean spirit.” The centre of culture and folk traditions! From this, we can imagine a lot of Korean traditions interwoven throughout this city, right? But this beautiful city is full of picturesque nature too! Andong actually sits between two mountains with the Nakdong River (the longest river in Korea) flowing through it! With all this, no wonder Andong literally means “peaceful land in the east.” Enough said! Let’s start this virtual tour ✈️
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Hahoe Folk Village is a must visit when in Andong! The village has been around since the 14th-15th century (1392-1910). That’s during the Joseon Dynasty! It’s surrounded by the Nakdong River thus the name, Hahoe (하회) comes from two Korean words - 'Ha' (하) which is short for river and 'hoe' (회) meaning to 'turn around, return or come back.’ It’s unlike other traditional villages in Korea, as this one wasn’t just a home for noblemen but commoners too. You truly get the feel of Korea's traditional lifestyle as residents still live here. Every three, five and even ten years a genre of Korean masked dance-drama is also performed here at Hahoe Folk Village 🎭 This has actually been passed down for more than 600 years! If you’re up for a hike to see this village in all of its glory, go to Buyongdae Cliff! It offers you an bird’s eye view of Hahoe Folk Village’s traditional homes and its surroundings in nature.
Another must see is the Woryeonggyo Bridge (월영교). It’s interesting enough that the bridge was designed in the style of mituri, a style of traditional shoes that are tightly weaved together with fine hemp fibres. These shoes are often worn by women or scholars on hot summer days. But what’s more interesting to me is the legend associated with this bridge. The legend goes something like this; a wife made a pair of mituri out of her hair as she yearned and hoped it served as condolence for her late husband. So to represent this beautiful love, the Woryeonggyo Bridge was built. In the day, the bridge looks very traditional but at night, it’s a whole different story. Lit up with vibrant colours, you can see this bridge reflected in the Nakdong River and the moon, giving it a modern touch.
If we’re talking about Korea's iconic wooden masks, Andong is the city that is associated with it! Not only is there the masked dance performace at Hahoe Folk Village but the city is also home to the Maskdance Festival. If you’re intrigued by this, maybe stop by the Hahoe Mask Museum. It goes further into the Korean wooden mask traditions and the variations of its dance. But there’s more to it! After all, Andong is the capital of Korean spirit. If you’re interested in Korean architecture and history, take a visit at Dosanseowon Confucian Academy. You can get a glimpse of the culture of how classical scholars enjoyed arts and learning or refresh at the Bongjeongsa Temple or even the Manhyujeong Pavilion.
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Of course, with all K-cities, they’re always going to have their own specialty dish. There’s actually quite a few Andong dishes but let’s start with heotjesabap (헛제삿밥). I’m sure after a day of activities, you would need a dish as filling as this one! Heotjesabap is a type of bibimbap (비빔밥), which literally means mixed rice and often paired with spicy gochujang (고추장), or red pepper paste. With heotjesabap, it uses soy sauce instead to create a more savoury umami flavour. It’s mainly mixed with young sprout vegetables over white rice paired with grilled fish and Korean pancake or jeon (전). If you’re wanting a drink to pair with your meal, how about sikhye? The best way I can describe it as, is rice punch, but fermented with a tanginess to it 🍶 I was surprised that Andong sikhye actually takes a spicy approach to it by adding powdered red pepper, ginger, and sometimes even radish. Lastly, mackerel is also a local delicacy. When they can be caught down at Nakdong River, best believe it’s served fresh and lightly salted!
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You can actually get a full set meal with all of Andong's signature dishes at Magpie Gumeong House. You know it’s good when the locals go here! In fact, the restaurant has apparently been operating for over 100 years and in 1996, was awarded the “Master of Traditional Cultural Preservation.” With a beautiful Hanok-inspired build, I can totally see why! You get the full experience from the food to the ambience. Plus the added bonus of having the restaurant close by to Woryeonggyo Bridge. More the reason to have a delicious meal here before taking a night visit to the bridge!
When you start going out of Seoul and venture to the different cities, you’ll see how different each of them are. Each city has their own take on Korean culture that makes them extra special. Andong is just one of many cities that has their own history and it’s even more fascinating how deep their culture runs. This virtual tour that we went on was definitely a unique one for me to talk about and see!