Mark your calendar now as there is a long weekend ahead of us in May in Korea!
※Children’s Day Weekend: May 3~7
This year, with Buddha’s Birthday on May 3 and Children’s Day on May 5, you can make it a five-day holiday by using a vacation day on May 4.
You may even be able to extend your holidays to May 9 if you get your day off on Korean Labor Day on May 1 and use two vacation days on May 2 and 8.
Now, if you still haven’t decided where to go and what to do over the long weekend in May, make sure to check out this cool travel idea below. Start booking!
Have a Sand-sational Time in Busan!
How about a seaside escape to a vibrant southern port city of Busan, the country’s second largest city? Offering a different atmosphere from the capital city of Seoul and incredibly diverse experiences to be had, Busan is a destination absolutely worth traveling to.
Surrounded by seven beaches, the city is an all-time favorite summer destination and the long weekend in May can be the perfect time to visit before the big summer rush begins!
Trazy.com is offering an all-inclusive 3D2N package dealat an early bird price of $158 USD per person from now until April 16. Bookings will be valid for travel until May 2, 2017. For more information, click here.
Why book this package?
Worry-free: confirmed transportation and accommodation even on a busy holiday – everything is covered!
Convenient location & comfortable accommodation: 2 nights at Citadines Busan Haeundae Hotel, only 5 mins away from Haeundae Beach
Optional tour to historic sites: 1-day tour to the neighboring historic city of Gyeongju available at an additional cost of $79 USD
Free time of your own: 2 full days of free time to explore Busan’s best sights (one free day if you book the optional tour)
For those who are going to stay only in Busan, consider entertaining yourself with the following activities during your free time!
Trazy’s Picks: Top 5 Things to Do During 3D2N Trip to Busan
Happy New Year! Can you believe 2016 is officially over? Neither can we!
2017 is the Year of the Rooster and Koreans celebrate the Lunar New Year, or ‘Seollal’ in Korean, which is one of the biggest holidays in Korea. This year, Seollal is from the 27th to 30th of January.
During the holiday period, many Koreans head back to their hometown to see their families and pay respect to ancestors. As most people head out of Seoul during this time to see their families, the city that is usually bustling with people becomes a lot more peaceful and quiet.
Also, many businesses including major department stores and small local shops close during the holiday period. But don’t be in despair as travelers (or you!) can find and partake in Seollal events at many tourist attractions and destinations within and around Seoul.
Check out these destinations where you can celebrate and make the most of your trip during the Korean Lunar New Year holiday!
1. Theme Parks
South Korea’s three best theme parks, Lotte World, Everland and Seoul Landare open during the Korean Lunar New Year and theyoffer various attractions and winter-themed events like sledding, light shows and parades.
Lotte World is holding a special parade where performers wearing colorful “Hanbok” (Korean traditional costume) will play traditional Korean instruments as they sing and dance. Seoul Land is also hosting a Pond Smelt Festival consisting of a sledding slope, fishing area, indoor children’s playground and food trucks selling delicious food.
2. Korean Royal Palaces
If the royal palaces are somewhere you’ve been meaning to visit, Seollal is the perfect time to go. Four of the royal palaces in Seoul (Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung) will be open and will showcase different programs for the guests.Programs include traditional rituals and games, activities that you can participate in and performances like the famous “changing of the guards” ceremony with the palace as the perfect backdrop. You can also have an in-depth tour of the Korean royal palaces here.
3. National Folk Museum of Korea
You may perceive museums as mundane places, but head to one during Seollal and you’ll find that it’s actually quite fun and exciting!During Seollal, the National Folk Museum of Korea, located in Gyeongbokgung Palace offers a range of hands-on programs and exhibitions such as arts and crafts and traditional folk games for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
You can try playing Korean traditional games like “paengichigi (top spinning)”, “jegichagi (hacky sack)” and “yutnori (a board game where you throw sticks)”.
4. Namsangol Hanok Village
The Namsangol Hanok Village is a collection of five traditional Korean houses from the Joseon Dynasty that have been restored. As part of the Seollal festivities, here you can register for various experiences involving Korean traditional percussions, folk songs, games and more. It’s sure to be a lot of fun!
5. Korean Folk Village
The Korean Folk Village is also hosting Seollal events such as folk games and traditional Korean music performances.
There are also performances like tightrope walking, horseback martial arts and role playing by actors donned in makeup and outfits that make it look like they’re from the Joseon dynasty.
Have a private tour to the UNESCO-designated Suwon Hwaseong Fortress and Korean Folk Village in one day here.
6. National Gugak Center
The National Gugak Center is a place that preserves and promotes Korean traditional music and performances.
During Seollal, there are special cultural performances about the history of Korea that are both educational and entertaining!
Other destinations to visit during Seollal holiday in Seoul
Other major tourist attractions that are also open during the Korean Lunar New Year holiday period include COEX Aquarium, N Seoul Tower and Myeong Dong Nanta Theatre. All of them are easy to reach by subway and they are truly wonderful places to visit with your family and friends and have a great time together.
So, what are you waiting for? Do try a visit to one of these spots during Seollal!
If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to check out Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop for more fun and exciting posts like this one!
It’s that time of year again, “the season with clear skies and stout horses.” Nothing depicts fall in Korea more accurately than this old saying.
During the fall, the weather is at its prime with the perfect combination of sunshine and cool breeze. Additionally, the harvested crops are so plentiful that even livestock get to enrich themselves, so what’s not to like about this peaceful season?
Besides the beautiful scenery on the street and the smell of pumpkin spice and roasted chestnuts, there’s another reason why we anticipate fall…it’s the time of Korean Thanksgiving, also known as “Chuseok“!
1. Chuseok, Happy Korean Thanksgiving Day!
Chuseok is a harvest festival that the whole nation celebrates together. Many scholars claim that it originates from the shamanistic worship ritual of giving thanks to the harvest moon and ancestors. Farmers would show their gratitude and pay homage to their ancestors by presenting them with their new harvest, believing they would spend the coming winter with warmth and plenty of food and have a rich harvest for the coming year. They would then share their food with friends, family, and neighbors.
Nowadays, it’s a time when people take a break from their busy lives to head home and spend time with their family and friends. As a result, airports, trains, and roads are packed as people return to their hometowns. There’s even an expression for such phenomenon, the “mass migrationof Chuseok“. So if you plan to travel anywhere during Chuseok holiday, make sure you book your tickets way ahead of time or you’ll be headed absolutely nowhere.
“Charye” is an ancestor memorial ritual that has been carried out for thousands of years in Korea. On the morning of Chuseok, family members gather in their homes to hold a memorial service for their ancestors, usually up to around four generations above (Chuseok would probably be over if they tried to pay their respects to every single one). During the ceremony, food, fruits, and beverages are offered to them. Each dish has a designated spot on the table and there are set processes such as lighting candles before alcohol is poured into three different cups and bowing twice afterward.
On the morning of Chuseok, family members gather in their homes to hold a memorial service for their ancestors, usually up to around four generations above (Chuseok would probably be over if they tried to pay their respects to every single one).
During the ceremony, food, fruits, and beverages are offered to them. Each dish has a designated spot on the table and there are set processes such as lighting candles before alcohol is poured into three different cups and bowing twice afterward. After the ceremony, everyone sits together to enjoy the delicious food they prepared and used for the ceremony as they reunite and bond with their family members.
2. It’s Not a Festival Without Food!
No food, no party. That’s the universal rule.
Chuseok is no exception. Preparing the delicacies is a lengthy process that involves many hands due to the quantity and variety of foods to be made. The food is meant to serve the ancestors. Therefore, Koreans believe that the more effort you put into making it, the more respect you are paying for them.
Songpyeon: The Delicious Chuseok Delicacy
When it comes to Chuseok specialties, it would be blasphemous to leave “Songpyeon” off the table.
This crescent moon shaped rice cake is made with rice from the first harvest of the year, filled with beneficial ingredients such as powdered sesame, red beans, brown sugar, and chestnuts. The finishing touch is a fragrant pine scent, achieved by layering the cake with pine needles.
Though Songpyeon used to be made solely by women, nowadays the whole family participates. And ladies, take note! There’s a belief that a person who makes Songpyeon in the prettiest shape will meet a great spouse and have a beautiful baby, so make it count! Besides Songpyeon, various other foods and fruits are served during the festival. Seasoned vegetables, pork, beef, and fish are common and the remaining choices vary by region.
For instance, in the northern part of Gyeongsang province, dried shark meat called Dombaegi and octopus are served because their main harvest is seafood.
It’s quite interesting to see the variety of foods in different regions, so do give them a try if you have the chance!
3. Eat, Pray and … Play!
So you’ve filled your stomach with delicious food and spent hours chatting with your family members. Now, it’s time to relax… NOT! The real fun now begins.
There are many fun traditional activities that await you, so get up and prepare to have fun!
About Ganggangsulae Dance
This nearly impossible-to-pronounce dance is traditionally done by women to pray for a bountiful harvest.
They come together under the brightest full moon, forming a circle as they hold each other’s hands. As the lead singer starts singing, the rest sing the refrain “Ganggangsulae” as they rotate clockwise. The dance gets faster and faster as the tempo speeds up and can last until dawn.
No one knows the exact origin, but many people claim the dance dates back to the 16th century when the Japanese attacked Korea. Naval commander Yi Sun-shin ordered the women to circle the mountains in military uniform to scare the enemy off, in an effort to deceive them into thinking the Korean military was greater in number than it actually was.
If you’ve never seen the dance, it’s quite interesting and exciting. Better yet, why not join in!
“Ssireum” is a traditional sport in Korea, composed of two opponents who wrestle while holding each other’s belts, called ‘Satba (샅바)’.
To win, the player must bring his opponent down to the sandy ground. Unlike Japanese Sumo wrestling, pushing the player out of the circle does not signify victory.
The biggest contest is held during the festival, its popularity scale comparable to American football on Thanksgiving as many families enjoy watching the games on TV.
Traditionally, the champion of the contest receives a bull and rice as the victory prize along with earning the title of being “the world’s strongest man”. He’s definitely not someone you want to mess with. Can you imagine what an honor it would be for a man to be called the world’s strongest and to bring home a bull in one hand and a bag of rice in the other?
About Bull Fighting
There is no written record of its origin, but bullfighting has been done traditionally over many centuries. However, Korean bullfights don’t involve much blood or killing at all.
Instead of humans fighting bulls like in Spain, it’s literally just two bulls fighting each other. So if you’re an animal lover, don’t worry as you won’t be seeing anything gruesome. As a matter of fact, the bulls are treated with lots of love and affection. The trainers take care of them in a respectable way, feeding them gourmet meals after training.
The show isn’t all about competition. Rather, it’s to show how well their livestock have been raised. In a contest, these thick-necked bulls butt heads until one eventually gives in. A dual can last a few minutes or even hours.
Cheungdo is the city well known for its annual bullfight festival, with its own exclusive stadium that holds various events related to bullfighting. The event draws thousands of tourists every year. If you’re interested in this unique traditional and exciting event, you should try a visit to Cheungdo this Chuseok. If you’re stuck with nothing to do during Chuseok because your family is abroad, don’t stay at home moping. Head outside as there are still many things to do!
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, we hope you spend the best time during Chuseok holiday! And don’t forget to stop by Trazy.com to stay updated on the latest events and fun things to do in South Korea.
August 15 is one of the most meaningful days to Koreans. It is a national holiday in Korea and the National Liberation Day of Korea, Gwangbokjeol. It is celebrated every year on 15th of August, and it will be marking 71st year of Independence in 2016.
On this day, you will get to see many buildings and streets with Korean national flags called “Taegeukgi”.
1. Why is Gwangbokjeol so special?
August 15 is the day when Korea was liberated from the Japanese colony in 1945 and also when Korean government was established in 1948 after overcoming the fuss generated from the liberation.
It is the day when Japan declared unconditional surrender and the World War 2 was over, which made Korea restore its own power. ‘Gwangbok‘ means to regain the light, which perfectly describes the restoration of national independence that was lost for 36 years under the Japanese invasion.
2. People who sacrificed their lives for greater purposes.
Many people were suffered and killed during the colonial period. Some voluntarily gave up their lives in exchange of the liberation of Korea.
Ryu Gwansun (1902~1920) is the most famous figure who became the symbol of the March 1 Movement (1919) that took a big role in taking back Korea’s independence.
She was only a 16-year-old student when she organized the March 1 movement at her home town. In the demonstration on March 1st, her family members were brutally killed by the Japanese soldiers and she was imprisoned.
Even though she was locked up in the prison, she continued to declare the liberation of Korea. However, due to the harsh torture that 16-year-old body could not stand, she passed away in the prison.
Ahn Jung Geun (1876~1910) was a Korean independence activist and nationalist who is known for his assassination of Ito Hirobumi, the prime minister of Japan and former Resident-General of Korea back when Korea was about to be colonized by the Japan.
He shot Ito Hirobumi and yelled for Korean Independence in Russian, waving the Korean flag. He was later sentenced to death by the Japanese government but his perspectives of Pan-Asia, which is similar to the concept of European Union but among Korea, China and Japan, were highly praised even by the Japanese.
Kim Gu (1876~1949) is another historic figure who cannot be excluded when talking about the liberation. During the Japanese colonial period, he moved to China to establish the provisional government of Korea that worked as the main quarter for the liberation movements. As he was always threatened to be killed by Japan, he had to move to one place to another frequently, but never gave up working for the liberation.
Finally after the liberation, Kim Gu came back to Korea, but Korea was divided into South and North. He insisted on building one single country, instead of two. However, in 1949, one year later after the establishment of South Korean government, he was assassinated by a Korean soldier. There are many political rumors behind his death, but nothing has been proved yet.
When people in Seoul were captured for the action that led to the liberation of Korea, they were sent to Seodaemun prison located in Seoul. People who were captured went to court run by Japanese and were tortured brutally in the prison.
After the liberation, the prison changed into an educational place to remember how the prisoners under the Japanese colonial were treated inhumanely. If you are interested in learning about Korean history, try a visit to this prison. For directions, click here.
You can also learn more about the historical backgrounds of the anti-Japanese struggle and the historical figures during the colonial rule by visiting the Independence Hall of Korea located in Cheonan.There will be a variety of events taking place across the country to celebrate this meaningful day for the peoeple of Korea.
In Seoul, there will be a walking contest, performances, a photo exhibition and many more programs around Cheonggye Stream from 10am until 4pm. In Busan, you will be able to enjoy face painting, Taegukgi fashion contest and plenty more at Yongdusan Park from 11am until 1pm.
If you want to learn more about Gwangbokjeol, take a look at this great video. 😉
Stay tuned for more travel updates on our blog, or simply visit our website, Trazy.com, for all the latest things to do in South Korea! 😉
Today, the 1st of March, also referred to as ‘Samil Jeol’ in Korean, is a public holiday in South Korea. It is a day that commemorates Samil Independence Movement in 1919.
However, this day is more than just a national holiday. In fact, March 1st was a turning point in Korean history, because it triggered a nationwide civil protest or an independence movement against the ruling of Korea by Japan, and ultimately led to the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.
In 1919, right after the Paris Peace Conference, (in this conference, president Wilson proclaimed “self-determination”) many Korean patriots thought that the independence is not far away. At the same time, Korean students studying in Tokyo published a statement demanding freedom from colonial rule.
At 2 pm, 33 people who formed the core of the independence movement convened at Taehwagwan Restaurant and read the Korean Declaration of Independence. Initially, they planned to assemble at Tapgol Park, or Pagoda Park. However, they decided to do it in a private location to prevent it from turning into a riot. They wanted to do it in peaceful way without making innocent victims. The leaders of the movement signed the document and sent a copy to the Governor General. They even called police themselves and informed their action to be arrested.Despite the leaders’ concerns, massive crowds assembled in Pagoda Park waiting for the leaders. However, a young student started to read the declaration publicly instead of the leaders because they didn’t show up. Afterwards, the gathering formed into a peaceable procession, which the Japanese military police attempted to suppress.
As the processions continued to grow, the Japanese local and military police could not control the crowds. The panicked Japanese officials called in military forces to quell the crowds including the naval forces. As the public protests continued to grow, the suppression turned to violence resulting in massacres and other atrocities.
For example, according to a foreign journalist who witnessed the massacre described that the Japanese police herded the inhabitants of the Village of Jeam-ri and locked them up in a church and burnt it. While the church was burning, the Japanese police shot through the burning windows to ensure that no one made it out alive.Approximately 2,000,000 Korean had participated in the more than 1,500 demonstrations and many were massacred by the Japanese police force and army. According to the book, ‘Bloody History of the Korean Independence Movement’, 7,509 people killed, 15,849 wounded and 46,303 arrested.
Many arrested were taken to the infamous Seodaemun Prison where they faced torture death without trial or due process.
The movement was a catalyst for the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai in April and also influenced nonviolent resistance in India and many other countries. The Korean Liberation Army was also subsequently formed and allowed to operate in China. The movement also triggered a rise in mobilization of Catholic and Protestant activists as well as activism mobilized in the U.S., China and Russia.
After this huge movement, Japanese government changed its way to rule Korea. Governor-General Hasegawa accepted the responsibility for the loss of control and was replaced by Saito. Then the military police force was replaced by a civilian force and a limited press freedom was permitted.And finally, after the Korean War (May 24th, 1949) March 1st was designated as a national holiday in South Korea.
5. Where To Commemorate Independence Movement Day
In order to commemorate this day of great significance, Koreans put national flags on the windows at homes or pay a visit to historic sites. n these historic sites, various performances and hands-on events are held to commemorate March 1st Movement. Take a look and see where you can also join the commemoration events! 😉
A. Seodaemun Prison History Hall
Many Koreans visit Seodamun Prison History Hall to remember the brave spirits of those who fought for the country’s independence and democracy.It’s an actual prison where independence activists were jailed and tortured. So here, you will be able to witness the pain and struggle of Koreans during the colonization period. The place is well preserved and you will be able to take a look around the real prison cells back then, the torture chambers and the tools that were used to torture the Korean patriots, as well as the displays photographs of execution. For details and directions, click here.
B. The Independence Hall of Korea
Another best spot you may want to visit on March 1st is the Independence Hall of Korea, which is highly reputed as one of the best museums in South Korea.
From indoor to outdoor exhibitions, various monuments, and displays of photos, the Independence Hall of Korea is an awesome museum where you can learn everything about the Korean independence movement history.And if you do make a visit to this place, don’t miss out on Taeguek Square where 815 Koreans flags are raised and the view is truly amazing! For details and directions, click here. Now, if these historic sites amaze you and you want to discover and explore more about South Korea, visitTrazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, where you can find out all the latest things to do in this wonderful country. 🙂
In terms of weather, the most favorable times to visit South Korea are during the months of March to May and September to November. However, February can also be a fabulous time for travelers to visit South Korea. Here are 5 great reasons why:
1. Save Your Travel Expenses
Want to save travel expenses? We strongly recommend you visit South Korea in February if you’re considering a budget travel because during the winter season, hotels prices and airline prices drop dramatically along with the temperature! 😉
2. Awe-inspiring Winter Landscapes
Though the cold winter season has kicked off a little bit later than last year, you can still enjoy the amazing landscapes of snow-capped mountains and frozen rivers as well as a winter hike at beautiful national parks around South Korea. For instance,Seoraksan Mountain (Seoraksan National Park), located in Sokcho, which is the eastern part of South Korea, boasts magnificent natural scenery in winter. It is where you can enjoy both winter hiking and the beautiful East Sea situated nearby.For free travelers who want to travel across Korea on their own without experiencing any problems trying to figure out where to go and how to get there, here’s a perfect 1-day tour to Sokcho. Booking is available here.
3. Korean Lunar New Year Traditional Events
From 27th to 30th January in 2017 is the Korean Lunar New Year, or “Seollal” in Korean. As a celebration of Seollal, there will be various events and traditional experience programs for foreign visitors and travelers. Try paying a visit to Namsangol Hanok Villageand the Korean Folk Village to enjoy traditional performances, traditional craft programs and folk games.Plus, while most shops and restaurants will be closed, Korea’s four major palaces, Gyeongbokgung, Deoksugung, Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung, will be open on the very day of Lunar New Year, 27th of January. You’ll be able to enter the palaces for free on this day, how awesome is that! If you want to take a look around the palaces in depth, check out this palace tour.
4. Feast on Traditional Foods
As mentioned above, Koreans will be celebrating the Korean Lunar New Year, which means that there will be plenty of traditional foods all over the country! Visit local markets like Gwangjang Market or Namdaemun Market during this time of year, and you’ll find ample foods that Koreans eat during the Lunar New Year. Try ‘Yakgwa (honey cookies)’, ‘Hangwa (traditional Korean sweets)’, ‘Jeon (pancake)’ or ‘Tteokguk (sliced rice cake soup)’! 🙂
Though the temperature is chilly in South Korea, that shouldn’t keep you from enjoying outdoor activities as there is an abundance of them! From sledding, skiing and ice fishing to light festivals, there’s so much to see and experience.
Try a visit to the Garden of Morning Calmwhere there are thousands of varieties of plants and flowers on display as well as a lighting festival that’s full of beautiful colors! There are also plenty of outdoor winter activities all around the country! Check out this link for more places to go and things to do!
Now that you know why February is a great time to visit South Korea, visit Korea’s #1 travel guide, Trazy.com, to discover the latest, newest, trendiest things to do in South Korea!