On Day 6 we are heading to Andong from Gyeongju, it takes about 2 hours to reach Andong. It is about 94km. If you are driving from Seoul, it is about 2.5 hours to 3 hours.
Andong is a city located in the Gyeongsangbuk-do province of South Korea. It is situated in the southeastern part of the country and is known for its rich cultural heritage and traditional Korean architecture. Andong is often referred to as the “Capital of Korean Spiritual Culture” and is famous for preserving many aspects of traditional Korean life.
Hahoe Folk Village
One of the most popular attractions in Andong is the Hahoe Folk Village, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This village provides a glimpse into traditional Korean village life with its well-preserved thatched-roof houses and cultural artifacts. It is also known for its traditional mask dance, called the Hahoe Mask Dance, which is performed by locals.
The Hahoe Folk Village sits in a U-shaped area surrounded by the Nakdong River. The houses here are unique in that many of them use a thatched roof as opposed to the more common roof tiles. Many of the houses are still live by local residents. Many of the residents are descendants of the Ryu clan, one of the most prominent noble families in the region.
The village’s residents live in the hanok traditional houses and engage in various activities that reflect the local culture and heritage. Some residents work as artisans, producing traditional crafts such as masks, ceramics, and textiles. You can go into some of the houses and purchase souvenirs from the residents.
Others are involved in agricultural activities, cultivating crops and raising livestock. I met a few farmers in this village, they are lovely and friendly people. They allow me to take photos with them and do not seem to get irritated by the visitors. They do their own thing on the farm using their tractors.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II visits Andong
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II visited Andong in 1999 and since then the city immediately saw a 10-fold increase in the number of travelers. The competition was fierce among local governments to invite the queen to their cities in South Korea.
There is an interesting proposal to the British Embassy in Seoul to win the competition to get The Queen to visit their city.
Andong is a “Far Eastern city that waited a thousand years for a woman wearing a crown to come visit,” referring to the Chinese characters of the city’s name.
The Chinese character of “An” which means “comfort,” looks like a woman sitting under a roof. The lexical interpretation of the letter is that a family is stable only when a wife stays at home. It stems from the patriarchal background where the role of women should be limited to housework. “Dong,” the second part of the city’s name, means east and the city’s name originally means “a place of comfort in the east.”
However, a creative interpretation of the letter was said that the part that represents roof in the character “An” looks like a crown. Thus, the nation’s most traditional city, which even has a patriarchal legacy in its name, was destined for the arrival of a crowned lady, Queen Elizabeth II
Another story shared was about a house which has a room that forbids entry to women. The”sarangbang” in Chunghyodang, is an area preserved only for male members of the family according to Confucian tradition. This story sparked the British queen’s curiosity. And she wanted to find out more so she choose to visit Andong.
Andong Confucian School Dosan Seowon
Another notable landmark in Andong is the Andong Confucian School, which was established during the Joseon Dynasty and served as an educational institution. Today, it stands as a museum where visitors can learn about Confucianism and the educational system of the past.
It is a stunning place located on a mountain, built in the 16th century. It is about 20km away from Andong City but there are buses too. After visiting the school, you can walk uphill for about 10 mins to reach the summit. At the summit, you are able to see the whole Hanoe Folk village from above.
Andong famous local cuisine
Andong is also famous for its local cuisine, especially its signature dish, Andong Jjimdak. It is a spicy braised chicken dish that combines various ingredients such as chicken, vegetables, and noodles in a flavorful sauce. We had the Andong local cuisine right after our visit to Hahoe village. I find that the chicken dish is like the Big Plate Chicken in Xinjiang, also known as Da Pan Ji, 大盘鸡 in Chinese.
Overall, Andong offers a unique experience for visitors who are interested in traditional Korean culture and history. It is a great destination to explore the country’s heritage and immerse oneself in the charm of rural Korea.
Where to stay in Andong? CM Park Hotel
The hotel is located in the city, it has free parking in the basement. Nearby there are many restaurants within walking distance. At night, we walked to the city and find a Korean BBQ pork restaurant.
The kimchee is also put into the hotpot BBQ to cook accordingly.
The staff who speaks fluent English helped us BBQ the pork. I asked if he is still a student but he told me he is already 39 years old.
After BBQ is always good to have cold noodles to cool down. So far we have beef BBQ in Suwon on day 1 and now pork BBQ in Andong on day 6.
The best time to visit Hahoe Folk Village would be in Spring as there are a lot of flowers including Sakura or Cherry blossom trees planted in this village. Also, you don’t find too many crowds during spring. But when the big Andong Mask Festival takes place in autumn, it will be more crowded. Many people actually choose to visit in autumn. Summer would be too hot to visit. We visited Hahoe Village at the end of Mar and it was quite hot.
It’s important to note that Hahoe Village is not a living museum but an actual community where people live and work. As such, visitors are expected to respect the privacy and daily lives of the residents while enjoying the cultural and historical aspects of the village. Oh yea, there is also a church inside the Hahoe Folk Village.