Seollal: Lunar New Year

12 02 2013

While I think of fireworks, staying out all night and drinking as typical New Year’s traditions in America, Koreans spend their time with their families, play traditional Korean games, wear traditional Korean clothing–such as hanboks–and eat delicious food.

Yesterday was Lunar New Year. Koreans follow the lunar calender, while Americans follow the Gregorian/Western calender. I spent the day with one of my Korean co-workers, Herina.

First she took me to her house, where I met her adorable maltese dog named parum (바람), which means “wind” in Korean.

Dog collections2

He’s almost 2 years old. Parum is so sweet–I would take him if I could!

She also has a younger, 13-year-old brother who also acted as a photographer for us. He knew some English, but he was acting shy!

Herina’s mom made delicious food, including kalbi (beef short ribs), japchae (glass noddle salad) and an array of other sides. She also made tteokguk (rice cake soup), which is one of the most poplar Korean dishes on Seollal.

Her mom also gave me an envelope with some money inside.

Seollal Traditions: Gifts
New Year’s money is a common gift from elders to young ones. Grand children bow to their elders, and grandparents will offer them New Year’s money and wishes for a good year. 

IMG_7812sidesHer mom made us some nice German coffee and sliced fruit to make a decadent plate of desert.

After eating, we headed to The Independence Hall of Korea. Independence Hall is a historical area with seven Exhibition Halls that display Korea’s 5,000-plus-year-old history and its relics. However, it focuses a lot on the Japanese Colonial Period, which ended in 1945.

You can also find a 4D movie theater at Independence Hall. Unfortunately, we missed seeing a film–the time on the brochure wasn’t right!

It’s pretty depressing to see how Koreans were treated during their oppression.

sceneThe museums here are much more graphic IMG_7849and violent that museums I’m use to seeing in the USA, but I don’t think that’s bad. It’s just being honest and blunt about history. Many signs in the halls are in Korean and English.

This picture, to the right, is of life-size statues that show when some Koreans killed a “Japanese terrorist,” as my friend explained to me. Herina’s little brother is in on the photos–he’s pretending to kill the bad guy.

One of the Korean statues is missing an arm!

Someone must have knocked it off. After you walk through each hall, you can stamp a special piece of paper and take it home with you. It’s like a mini-passport log of where you went at Independence Hall–I collected all of the stamps!

On a lighter note, there were also traditional Korean games set outside the main building. I took some photos and tried making a .gif clip. You need to click the photo to see the movement.

Animated korean game 2

Click image to see movement.

Korean Traditions: Games
Neoltwiggi (see-saw) is a game where two people stand on either end of a flat board. They need to take turns hoping–each one boncing higher and higher. This eventually leads to one flying off the board, or at least losing balance!

Tuho (arrow toss) is another traditional game played during Seollal. You take an arrow (or equivalent)  and try to aim it inside a container. It’s much harder than it looks!

Animated korean game

Click image to see movement.

woo i got it

Yay! I knocked the block down!



















It was a good day. I learned a lot about Korea’s history and got to experience a bit of a traditional Seollal day. And here are some photos to end my post.