25 kilometres west of Andong you will find the Hahoe Folk Village (안동하회마을). It is a popular place for tourists from abroad as well as South Koreans. Everyone comes to the Hahoe Folk Village to imagine themselves 500 years back in time. That’s the feeling you get when you walk past the traditional houses, situated in a beautiful surrounding of rice fields and mountains. In this article I explain why the Hahoe Folk Village, since 2010 on the Unesco Heritage List, cannot be missed during a trip through South Korea.
Fact: Ha means river and Hoe means bend. And that is exactly the geographical location (river in the shape of an s) of this traditional village.
Hahoe Folk Village: 600 years of Korean history
The Hahoe Folk Village was created during the Joseon Dynasty. This Dynasty ruled from 1392 to 1910 and many of the traditions and customs of this period are now common in South Korea. It was a period when Confucianism began to play an important role in society.
The first characteristics of what could be called a village started about 600 years ago. Members of the Pungsan Ryu family inhabited these houses. They belonged to the upper class. 2 members of the family have played an important role in the development of South Korea. Rye Unryong was an important scholar in the 16th century with an understanding of Confucianism. And Rye Seongryong was the prime minister during the Japanese invasion from 1592 to 1598. He appointed generals and ensured that the Japanese were driven out of Korea in 1598.
At the time of the Joseon Dynasty there were about 300 houses here. This has now been reduced to approximately 127. However, descendants of the Rye family still live here, although the population has shrunk considerably over the centuries. But today electricity, wifi and a television are very common in this village!
In Yeongmogak-Jingbirok, in one of the many houses of the village, there are documents of Rye Seongryong. Among others the letter in which he was appointed Prime Minister and his memoirs about the war with Japan can be found here.
A walk through the Hahoe Folk Village
To start with: the village is not very big, but the location and the surroundings ensure that you will definitely stay in the Hahoe Folk Village for a few hours. But beware: the village may be a place of interest, but that doesn’t mean that all the houses and gardens are accessible to visit. Here, too, ordinary people still live with privacy.
The village consists of houses that are called a hanok in South Korea. This is a traditional house that is in harmony with the environment, both the interior and exterior. The houses are made of stone and wood and often have a tiled roof. But also a thatched roof is not uncommon. During a walk through the village you come across them again and again.
Tip: For a view of the village go to the Buyongdae rock. To get here take the boat on the north side of Hahoe and walk up in 30 minutes. Unfortunately I didn’t do that because of the rain and the low clouds.
Finally, in the middle of the village there is the oldest tree in Hahoe, the Samshin Tree. 600 years old and still in the prime of his life. But also the tree planted by Queen Elizabeth in 1999 is a real attraction in Hahoe!
Planning a visit to Hahoe Folk Village?
How do I get there? The Hahoe Folk Village can be reached from Andong by bus. Bus 46 (1800 won) drives 8 times a day to this traditional village and brings you to the entrance of the park. After buying a ticket you will be taken to the village by bus.
Opening hours Hahoe Folk Village is a village and it would be weird if it could not be visited at any time of the day. However, it is necessary to buy a ticket and this can be done from 9 a.m. until the evening. Admission to the village costs 3000 won (€2.25).
It is also possible to spend the night in Hahoe. I did not do this myself, but the beautiful location and tranquility are the advantages over staying in the city of Andong.
Tip: 2 km east of the village is the Andong Mask Museum. If you are not in Andong during the Andong Mask Dance Festival you can enjoy masks from home and abroad.