Week 2: Experiencing the Korean Culture

It’s the second week and I have met so many people from so many different cultures from all around the world. It is interesting how we are all raised in very different environments from across the country, yet we are here in South Korea with a common mission–to study abroad here and experience first handedly the South Korean Culture.

This week, I went to Jeonju, South Korea, on an overnight trip hosted by my host university Hanyang University. Although it was raining on both days ninety-five percent of the time, I had so much fun as I was really able to immerse myself into the Korean History and Culture.

First, we visited a Hanji Paper Museum where we learned how writing paper was made during the Joseon Dynasty. In my Korean Society and Culture class, I learned that knowledge and education were valued and respected during the Joseon Dynasty, and even prominent in today’s modern society in Korea. As such, paper making was a booming business back then thousands of years ago. We learned that these traditional hanji papers were extremely high-quality and durable, and made from the inner barks of the mulberry trees. We were able to witness the process and even got to make it for ourselves!

After that, we rode the bus to Jeonju Hanok Village where we visited the Royal Portrait Museum within the Gyeonggijeon Shrine, which displayed the famous royal portrait of King Sejong the Great, founder of Hangul, the Korean script. We learned about King Sejong and his accomplishments as a ruler. Then, we were able to try on the Korean traditional dress, the hanbok, and further explore the village. The dress was so beautiful I did not want to take it off at the end.

To end off the first day, we took a cooking class where we learned how to make the Korean dish, bibimbap. The dish was simple yet delicious, a perfect meal after a long day of exploration.

On the second day, we watched Korean traditional dance and performances. We got the chance to learn the Korean farmer dance, traditional percussions, and spinning a plate on a wooden stick that requires talent. Of the two days, this was my favorite day because I was able to physically participate in the traditional culture that I am learning about in class.

Time is zooming by so quickly, as it has already reached the midterm of my program. I am still very excited for what’s to come!