A Morning in Andong – Home to Korea’s Confucianism & Spiritual Culture

Andong city (안동시), the capital city of Gyeongsangbuk-do / North Gyeongsang Province (경상북도), is home of Confucianism in Korea. The scholarly city became a famous tourist area after a visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999. But for me, it was a Korean drama named Sweet 18 (낭랑18세, starring Han Ji-hye & Lee Dong-gun) in 2004 that ignited my interest to check out the city some day. The thatched-roof houses in the village where the grandfather lived in the drama exuded unique charm in my eyes haha.

12 years later, I finally stepped foot onto this charming city for my first self-drive holiday (specifically, I was only in the passenger seat hehe) with my Korean friends! Wohoo~ But because it’s about 3 hours’ drive from Seoul, I had to wake up super early on day 2 to catch the 1st train then express bus (6.20 am) out to reach my friends waiting for me in Daeso, Gyeonggi-do (대소, 경기도). From Daeso, the drive took about 1.5 hours before we arrived at the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Andong Hahoe Folk Village (안동 하회마을)!

Andong Hahoe Folk Village 1

The admission ticket costs KRW 3,000 per adult (S$3.60), KRW 1,500 per teenager (S$1.80) & KRW 1,000 per child (S$1.20) for non-Andong residents. Before we bought the tickets at the ticketing counter, we could already see many restaurants & traditional houses in sight.

Many restaurants selling the Andong specialty

Many restaurants selling the Andong specialty

Hahoe Folk Village is well-known for its traditional houses & home to descendants of the Ryu clan of Pungsan. Apparently, Korean actor Ryu Si-won (류시원) was born in Andong & part of the Ryu clan. It is also the birthplace of renowned Joseon Period scholars. The name of the village name means it is a village surrounded by water (河回村) as Nakdong River flows around the town’s perimeter. It is located at the foothills of Hwasan Mountain, an offshoot of Taebaek Mountain that rises up to the east. Surrounded by the thatched-roof houses, the large tile-roofed houses of the Ryu clan occupies the village centre, adding a unique charm to the village scenery. Without further ado, check out my photos below showing the well-preserved UNESCO Heritage Site that is still inhabited by its original villagers.

Andong Hahoe Folk Village 3

The attractive traditional houses in the village

The attractive traditional houses in the village

The indigenous Korean Fir planted by Queen Elizabeth in the village in 1999

The native Korean Fir planted by Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the village in 1999

A charming rustic cafe in a thatched-roof house

A charming rustic cafe in a thatched-roof house

Have fun playing these traditional Korean games outdoor!

Have fun playing these traditional Korean games outdoor!

There are many noteworthy national treasures & monuments found in the village, including the Chunghyodang Treasure No. 414 (충효당) you see below. The overall structure in this house is typical of houses of high-ranking officials in the middle of the Joseon dynasty. There is also the Mansongjeong Natural Monuments 473 (Pinetree forest in Hahoe village). The Korean name means “Grove of Ten Thousand Pines”, planted on a broad sedimentary sand layer along the Nakdong River, with hopes of mitigating the wild energy of Buyongdae Cliff (부용대). It has great scenic, historic and cultural value.

Andong Hahoe Folk Village 7Andong Hahoe Folk Village 8

Various types of lovely spring flowers were also spotted as we toured the charming Hahoe Folk Village, & I’ve created a collage of these flowers for your viewing pleasure.

Lovely spring is here with beautiful flowers in bloom!

Lovely spring is here with beautiful flowers in bloom!

Due to time constraint, we didn’t visit Buyongdae Cliff, which is said to have the best bird’s eye view of the village at its summit of about 64 meters high. We left Hahoe Folk Village to proceed to Byeongsanseowon (병산서원) to feel the conducive ambience at this Confucian school. It was established by esteemed Confucian scholars to pay tribute to the memory of Seong-nyong Yu (1542-1607), who was well-respected for his writings and personality. Situated just in front of the school is the Nakdong-gang River, & the Byeongsan Mountain can be found across the river. With such a strategic location surrounded by nature, it provided a serene environment for the scholars to study in.

Different views of the respected Confucian school

Different views of the respected Confucian school

I didn’t regret requesting my friends to include Andong city to our weekend trip at all, as it felt like I was walking into the actual scenes of “Sweet 18” drama 12 years ago.:P Just a little pity that we only had 1 morning in the self-proclaimed “Capital of Korean Spirit”. If you love culture & history, don’t miss a tour in this charming cultural city!

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