Festivals / holidays / seasons
So the snow has been around for awhile now, and I’ve had the opportunity to get out a few times and let the camera out to play:
Dongdaemun, complete in HDR glory.
Banpo’s Han River Park – the newspaper was already there, and seemed to play nicely with the criss-cross of footprints
A little surreal – at least, that was the goal. Still at Banpo’s Han River Park.
Next up – Ganghwa-do’s Fortress area:
Part of the fortress wall.
The South gate – and the one closest to Ganghwa’s bus terminal.
KOREAN festivals rock – there’s plenty to see, plenty to do, and in most cases plenty to eat and drink. If it’s popular, however, it can be a feat to get in and see what there is to see.
Be prepared – in most cases you’ll need to buy your tickets well in advance, if only for the early bird discount. Don’t forget about your transportation as well. Hotel rooms can be a little trickier to arrange in advance, though - moga.co.kr/ is entirely in Korean but has an app, while koreahotel.com has an English version. Other stuff, like packing a mat to sit on or a jacket for a colder night, requires a More >
Seoul’s first large snowfall of the year was a good enough reason to take the camera out for a walk. Hope you enjoy! Look for the complete set on my photo blog
Seen around my neck of the woods in Haebangcheon.
Next stop: Jogyesa temple!
The perpetually smiling Buddha welcomes all.
Now to the City Hall area:
A bit of an epic FAIL – apparently, someone didn’t factor in snow landing on an exposed set of escalator stairs when designing the exit.
A couple folks were busy with one way of dealing with snow…
While a few others teamed up to move it out to the street.
The side of an odd More >
TO call Bongamsa in South Korea a temple is like calling Stanford a university – a gross understatement at best. Being one of the founding Nine Mountain Schools of Zen, it has a history that dates back to the 9th century and the end of the Shilla Dynasty.
To the monks, it’s a peaceful, solemn place about as far from modern civilization as you can get. It’s a zen (seon) meditation center for the Jogye order, one of the largest Buddhist orders in the country. I’m told there’s a competitive process to get to attend this center, although I’m not privy to the selection process. Monks that are More >
ONE nice thing about living in Seoul is the annualized rituals. The big ceremony at Jonggak in downtown Seoul to welcome the new year; the cherry blossoms in Yeouido, and the lantern parade for Buddha’s Birthday.
One fairly common display, beyond the lanterns, are the devout.
And then there’s the… oh, what’s the best way to say this… mainstream approach to the lantern festival. In this day and age nothing quite says mainstream like Angry Birds.
Here there be a lion – symbolic of the bodhisattvas.
It’s an interesting blend of devout and – there’s that word again – mainstream approaches to More >
CISK note: a version of this article first appeared as a guest post on Gone Seoul Searching.
Pronounce it ‘low-tay’.
A number of areas around Seoul get gussied up for the holidays, and the downtown area is one of the best.
Christmas in Seoul has plenty of the commercial messages, along with a few of the religious messages. This is a country with about 25% Christians, so it’s present, but not overbearing. You’re more likely to see Santa with his reindeer than crosses.
Seen outside the Lotte Duty Free Store in downtown Seoul – take a look inside for thousands of tiny lights.
Lotte Young More >
THE third time around, it’s still plenty of fun.
As with previous lantern festivals, the crowd was borderline overwhelming – especially on a Saturday night. Thankfully, this year featured some crowd control for the privilege of walking alongside the Cheonggyecheon stream – the later the night wore on, the longer that line got. Walking along the stream at street level was crowded, but manageable and without a line.
A look at the Joseon Dynasty – complete with a musical More >
Korea loves a holiday – and why not? It invariably turns into a reason to party, to shop, to be sociable, and sometimes to be someone else. With those thoughts, I’m delighted to see Halloween becoming a more widely celebrated holiday in South Korea, albeit with a few reservations.
It goes without saying that the reason for the season has been almost entirely lost in translation. Ask an elementary schooler; if you can break through the language barrier, you may discover a rather vague sense of the holiday’s purpose. Students seem oblivious to the holiday’s origin (the US is where it’s More >
Ask your average Korean to name the December 25th holiday, and all but the youngest child will be able to tell you the correct answer. Ask them what holiday happened on December 1-9 (Hanukkah), on December 21st (Yule), or will happen on December 26th to January 1st (Kwanzaa), and you’ll probably get a puzzled look. With respect to these winter holidays, I’ll primarily refer to the most common winter holiday celebrated in Korea.
Um, what happened Santa? Stay out too late on Christmas Eve and Mrs. Claus sent you to sleep on the sofa?
Although a distinctly Western holiday, Korea sees More >
Thought I’d share a few pictures from the last burst of fall, my favorite season of the year. Less talk and more pictures this go around:
Let the record show that no Photoshopping was used in these images – the colors come from a polarizing filter and some already vivid colors.
It almost looks way too saturated… Amazing.
One of the few times I’ve seen a nice orange color mixed in with the reds and yellows.
Just one of the relaxing parks / walking trails – just don’t go here shortly after the school to the right (not pictured) lets out.
Readers: did you see any good fall colors anywhere? More >