This year Seollal, or the Lunar New Year, falls on February 10 with the break from work encompassing five days of blissful relaxation time, so those lucky enough to have noticed the holiday far enough in advance probably got plane tickets to head on out of Korea. For those staying in the country though, there is still plenty to partake in from cultural festivities to non-traditional fun too and everything in between. Just be prepared for Seoul to become eerily quiet and for restaurants that are usually open 24 hours to be closed.
While most Koreans celebrating in traditional fashion will head to their family homes to celebrate by dressing up in their finest hanboks and rising early to bow in front of an altar of deliciously prepared food from meat and fish to fruit and tteokguk (rice cake soup), many foreigners are left to their own devices during the Lunar New Year holiday. Not to worry though, as plenty of places will be open and ready for business. The palaces in Seoul will welcome visitors and many will play host to hands-on programs. Those wearing hanboks will even get free entrance to walk amid the historical buildings, view the traditional rituals and play games. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art as well as the 63 Building, N Seoul Tower, COEX, the Seoul Museum of History and The National Museum of Korea will all be open as well. If there are still things to mark off your Korean bucket list, now’s the time to take advantage of the break from work.
For something a bit more special, here are some events to get tickets for now:
“A Hen into The Wild” at The National Gugak Center
For some traditional Korean music fun, the National Gugak Center, which aims to preserve and promote the Korean music stylings of yesteryear, welcomes guests for a family friendly performance of “A Hen into The Wild”. The 60-minute show is based on the Korean animation by the same name released in 2011 and is sure to be a fun time for everyone.
Show Times: February 8 at 4pm – 5pm; February 9 at 11am – 12pm and 4pm – 5:00pm; February 10 at 4pm – 5pm
Tickets: KRW 30,000 and KRW 40,000 (numerous discount options available)
Directions: Nambu Bus Terminal Subway Station (Line 3, Exit 5). Take bus 4429 and get off at the center.
Bangbae Subway Station (Line 2, Exit 1). Take local bus 07, 15 or 17 and get off at the center.
Naebang Subway Station, (Line 7, Exit 3). Take local bus 07 or 15 and get off at the center.
“The Year of the Monkey” at The National Folk Museum of Korea
A special exhibition featuring the monkey will introduce the symbolic meaning of the animal in Korean culture in celebration of 2016’s The Year of the Monkey, which is also called Byeongshin Year in Korean. To learn more about the auspicious year to come, head over to Gyeongbukgung Palace and visit The National Folk Museum in the back corner.
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Directions: Anguk Subway Station (Line 3, Exit 1); Gyeongbukgung Subway Station (Line 3, Exit 5) or Gwanghwamun Subway Station (Line 5, Exit 2). The museum sits on the northeast corner of the Gyeongbukgung grounds.
Fortune Party Celebrating Seol at The Korean Folk Village
This holiday is an ideal time to visit the Korean Folk Village, which will play host to numerous events and fun activities for the whole family. From traditional rites invoking good luck and shamanistic rituals to face painting, a photo zone and folk games, there will be plenty to do and there is sure to be plenty of hanboks and other traditional costumes to see too. Take the camera and get ready for some fun amid the traditional housing of the Korean past.
Admission: Adults KRW 24,000* (50% discount to those born in the year of a monkey & 33% discount given to up to three friends)
Hours: 10am – 5:30pm
Directions: From Gangnam Subway Station, (Line 2, Exit 10), catch bus 5001-1 to the Korea Folk Village.
From Yeouido Subway Station (Line 5, Exit 6), catch bus 7007-1 to the Korean Folk Village.
From Suwon Subway Station (Line 1, Exit 4), catch bus 10-5 or 37 to the Korean Folk Village.
“Miso: Baebijang-jeon” at Jeongdong Theater
For a traditional performance, head over to Jeongdong Theater to see Miso: Baebijang-jeon. The 70-minute performance showcases the satirical work of a classical novel from the late Joseon Dynasty. Audiences can expect to laugh while enjoying the traditional attire, music and story that has been produced as an opera and musical many times before. Take this holiday to soak up some culture through a spirited stage performance.
Where: Jeongdong Theater, Jeongdong-gil 43, Jung-gu, Seoul
Tickets: VIP KRW 54,000, R KRW 45,000, S KRW 36,000
Showtimes: Tuesday, February 9, 4pm and 8pm; Wednesday, February 10, 4pm and 8pm
*To get into the holiday spirit, many places will be offering discounts or free entrance to those wearing a hanbok or to those people born in the Year of the Monkey (1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004).
To read more from Hallie Bradley, check out her website TheSoulofSeoul.net for articles on culture, Korean traditions and the life of her growing multicultural family in Korea.