As many Korea fans will know, last Sunday was the start of Chuseok, one of the most important holidays in the lunar calendar, and one of four major traditional holidays in South Korea. It is a special harvest festival which is celebrated in the middle of Autumn and nowadays, modern Koreans are given a three day bank holiday so that they can visit their ancestral homes and celebrate a good harvest (modern version being: eat like crazy!).
As some of you guys may know, Ema and Annabel were sent to South Korea for a very special tour. We returned to the UK on 30th September which was the first day of Chuseok celebrations, and we got a very cultural send off at the airport.
Incheon Airport is very different from Heathrow. In the UK, departure terminals are all about the duty free shopping; that is all there is to do. Incheon is the same (they do have that amazing lotte duty free advert) and there is a lot of hard selling that goes on – we ourselves left with a million boxes of chocolates, some seaweed flavoured (big mistake)….But there were also two very interesting Korean Traditional Cultural Experience centres at the airport to make sure you leave South Korea with a clear memory of the country’s vibrant traditional culture. Here you can play some fun traditional games and try to win rice cakes (which Annabel did! Yay!) and take photos of people in amazing and colourful traditional gear. We’re not sure if this is all due to the special occasion of Chuseok, but we were also treated to a special parade where a royal couple walked around the airport greeting all passer-bys.
During our last week in South Korea, we were left to our own devices and being young ladies, we indulged in the modern culture. We shopped, we k-popped and spent many nights soaking up the funky atmosphere of Hongdae. These cultural activities at the airport was a brilliant reminder of the beautiful and traditional Korean culture that we learnt so much about during the tour. South Korea is a country that has managed to progress and evolve into one of the most hi-tech cities in the world yet still manage to proudly keep so much of their traditional culture alive and present.
Please do stay tuned as we will be blogging about our amazing trip to South Korea curtesy of KOCIS and Korea Herald. And if you are heading to South Korea, don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time to explore Incheon airport on your return trip! Jang Geun Suk chocolates anyone?