Folk Villages in Korea Part 1: Andong

South Korea is home to a number of folk villages, ranging from those recreated for tourism purposes (such as the Namsangol village in central Seoul and the Korean Folk Village in Yongin) and those that have been preserved (though some parts restored from damage) since the Joseon dynasty (such as Yangdong and Andong). Out of all the folk villages in Korea, I have been to two, Andong Hahoe Folk Village and Nagan Eupseong (or Nagan Fortress) folk village in Suncheon.

I visited Andong Folk Village in 2014 during the Andong Mask Dance Festival in autumn. While many popular tourist attractions in Korea can get quite crowded on the weekend and especially during a festival, the Andong Village actually didn’t have unbearable crowds during the mask festival. This is probably partly because the festival runs for two weeks, so people have the option of two weekends to spend in Andong if they don’t live in the area. There were certainly a lot of people there, but not enough to feel suffocating at all.

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Andong Folk Village was added to the Unesco world heritage list in 2010, along with Yangdong near Gyeongju. Descendants of the original villagers who lived there during Joseon live there today. The village is located in a rural area surrounded by rice fields and lotus leaves.

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The village is also nestled into a bend of the Nakdong river, which acts as a sort of protective barrier around it.

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The village was larger than I had anticipated and I would recommend at least an hour and a half to explore it. Some of the houses can be entered and contain artifacts from Joseon-era owners. Others are private residences. As the picture above shows, the houses are a mix of thatch roofs (mostly on the outer part of the village) and hanok roofs. The hanok houses were used by the upper class, while the thatched roof houses were used by the lower class.

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On the other side of the river lies Buyongdae cliff, which offers an impressive view of the folk village for only a 10 minute hike up. There’s a small ferry that takes passengers from the beach on the river to the cliff. It costs 3,000 won round trip, and according to the Korea Tourism Organization page on the cliff, the ferry is only available on weekends and holidays, and closed during winter.

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To get to the folk village, there is a bus that leaves from downtown Andong about every hour. The bus takes about 30 minutes or so. The bus drops off at an area with restaurants, shops, a mask museum, and a tourism information center. From this area, I had to board a shuttle bus to the actual village, which took a few minutes. The information center has maps and the bus schedule of times when the bus returns to downtown Andong.

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For accommodation, downtown Andong has a few motels. I stayed in the Goodstay Galleria Motel, which is a little over $50 per night for a standard room on Agoda. I booked a deluxe though since the standards were sold out, and paid about $60. The motel was nice and clean, had a big screen TV, shampoo, conditioner, towels, a mini-fridge, and a computer. It’s located in downtown Andong near restaurants, markets, a Homeplus, and the mask dance festival area. It’s also a few minute walk to the bus stop for Hahoe and other tourist attractions. Overall it was a really good value for the money. Front desk do not speak English but that is very typical for motels in Korea.

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