Chuseok, literally “Autumn eve,” is a major harvest festival and a three-day holiday in both North and South Korea. Also known as Hangawi, this Korean Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, on the full moon. Like many other harvest festivals worldwide, it is held around the autumn equinox, i.e., at the very end of summer or early autumn. It is one of the biggest traditional Korean holidays. In 2021, it falls on 21st September.
Places to Visit
During Chuseok, there are several exciting places to visit and things to do with both family and friends. We have listed a few of the top attractions during the season. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, do not forget to check the status of these places before visiting them.
Lotte World is the world’s biggest indoor theme park located in Jamsil, Seoul. It also has an outdoor amusement park called ‘Magic Island,’ a Korean Folk Museum, Ice Rink, Aquarium, Water Park, and much more. With numerous attractions and convenience stores, Lotte World is the perfect getaway for friends and family!
Fanta-Stick – A live Korean Musical
If you love Korean traditional music, this is a show you must check out! The Fanta-Stick troupe is comprised of the best teams performing percussion, fusion, Korean national music, breakdancing, acrobatics, and martial arts. There is a show every day at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Seoraksan Mountain – Autumn Tours
Usually, around the time of Chuseok, the autumn foliage tours are at their peak. With all the beautiful red and orange leaves, it is another great way to enjoy Chuseok as Seoraksan Mountain is famous for its color-changing leaves during autumn. This is a great place to take a stroll, enjoy nature in all its glory, and relax with the autumn breeze!
With its magnificent towering hilltops and more than 2,000 species of animals, Seoraksan National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Protection site. The park is a must-visit for adventure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. One can book a guided, one to two day-tour or visit the park on their own as well.
Another amusement park worth visiting with friends and family is Everland. As Korea’s first family park, it is popular among tourists and locals. It has a water park, a safari area, and the country’s most famous gardens, which are stunning. Everland consists of 5 unique-theme zones, such as Global Fair, American Adventure, Magic Land, European Adventure, and Zootopia.
Kimchi is a popular side dish in Korea made of salted and fermented vegetables, such as napa cabbage and Korean radish, and a variety of seasonings. It is also used in different kinds of soups. If you are in Korea during this festival, it is recommended that you sign up for a Kimchi Making Workshop to experience the best of Korean culture.
Ssireum – Chuseok Wrestling Festival
A traditional Korean sport, ssireum involves using one’s entire body in a battle of strength and technique. The earliest records of ssireum in Korea were found on tomb wall paintings of the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C.-668 A.D.). It is a well-loved sport in Korea, and competitions are held throughout the year, especially during festivals. During the Chusok festival, strong men from the city and other regions gather for a National Ssireum Tournament. If you love sports, this is one of the best ways to experience the culture here.
Korean Folk Village
The Korean Folk Village or the Minsok Village is a living museum in the province of Gyeonggi in South Korea. With the aim of creating a replica of a village from the late Joseon period (1392-1910), real houses from across the country were relocated and restored here, occupying approximately 245 acres. Here, the staff dresses up like people from the dynasty to give one an authentic feel when they visit. The village has several cultural experiences like Nongak (farmer’s music), martial arts on horseback, and other events. It even has a family-friendly theme park with 15 attractions. One can also try a variety of Korean food at the street market.
Namsangol Hanok Village
Located near Chungmuro Station, Namsangol Hanok Village is a very popular tourist destination. It is a collection of five hanoks (traditional Korean houses) from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and is also knows as ‘A Village of Traditional Houses in the Namsan Valley.’ Visitors can take part in various hands-on activities and enjoy folk music performances here. While it is smaller than the Korean Folk Village, it is worth visiting as well.
Koreans also celebrate Chuseok by making special food items, particularly a certain kind of rice cake called Songpyeon. Songpyeon is a Korean specialty and is made with finely ground new rice where the dough is kneaded into small round shapes and filled with chestnuts, sesame seeds, red beans, or other similar ingredients. It has a little sweet, chewy, and nutty taste to it. One can visit the Suwon Market, where many stores sell these rice cakes all year round and at a lower price during closing time.
Soju, made of rice, wheat, or barley, is one of the most popular Korean alcoholic drinks. Also known as Korea’s National Liquor, it is usually had neat and very popular during Chuseok. Soju is meant to be consumed with your meal and is usually downed in one go if it is your first shot. It is found very easily in liquor shops and restaurants.
Movies to Watch
Given the current situation, another good option would be to relax at home, unwind, and watch a Korean movie. Watching movies during this festival is a modern ritual followed by many. Some of the top-rated movies to watch during Chuseok are:
Discounts for Foreigners
If you are a foreigner traveling to Korea, here are some discounts you can check out before your trip:
- Korea Tour Card – One can purchase a Korea Tour Card to avail of many benefits in Korea. Korea Tour Cards are available in airports, major convenience store branches, and vending machines in subways or banks. With this card, you can avail of benefits including Shopping, Accommodation, Food and Beverage, Entertainment, and much more. When you visit an affiliated partner, one must simply present the card to take advantage of its benefits. For more details, visit – http://koreatourcard.kr/en.
- Everland – Everland is offering foreigners discount tickets via Trazy.com, the official seller of Everland. With Trazy, you can book Everland discount tickets instantly and effortlessly.
- Lotte World – Lotte World offers discounts to foreigners living in Korea. Korean people who are accompanied by foreigners will also get a discount.
Along with the above, many more exhibitions and galleries offer discounts closer to the date of the festival. Be sure to check before booking at full price!