Korean Adventures: Tea, Dying & Pansori in Jeonju

While in Jeonju as part of the KOCIS tour, apart from seeing the Hanok Village, exploring our Hanok accommodation, and trying Jeonju Bibimbap, we were able to join in some fun cultural activities around the Village. Jeonju’s Hanok Village is full of different traditional and educational areas, and lots of these are very hands on, which is great for those you want to get stuck in!

Korean Adventures: Tea, Dying & Pansori in JeonjuJeonju Hanok Village’s 차 문화공간 예다원 (Cha Munhwagonggan Yedawon) is a place where you can experience the traditional art of cloth dying, using environmentally friendly bio dyes, and learn about traditional tea ceremonies. Not only can you learn these traditional crafts from the very elegant and graceful owner, but you can also sit down, chill out and enjoy a host of different teas and treats on offer in their little cafe.

Korean Adventures: Tea, Dying & Pansori in JeonjuStepping into this beautifully built building, we were met by the very friendly lady of the house who ushered us into the courtyard. First we were going to do some tie dying! All 90s kids will remember this! The dyes we used were made from onions, however, luckily there weren’t any unpleasant onion odours. Dying handkerchiefs was pretty simple and involved a couple of steps. We were first given our plan cloths and rubber bands; this is where the fun starts!

Most people should remember the amazing tie dying phrase of the 90s, with these rubber bands, we used the same kind of technique to create a personalised patter on our handkerchiefs. Where ever your tied the rubber bands, that area would remain undyed (in theory), so we tried to come up with some unique and uber fashionable patterns. Once we had finished being creative genius, we watched the lady prepare the dye by first boiling the onions in water until it turned thick and dark in colour. Everyone’s masterpieces were then placed into the liquid and given a good and thorough mixing.  When the cloths had had a good soaking, they were removed, rinsed a few times as there were a lot of residue from the onions, and placed into a washing mashing for a professional rinse and spin. It was a little difficult to try to pick out whose cloth was whose after they’d all been mixed up, as with just 10 minutes and a few rubber bands, it’s hard to come out with anything exceptionally unique… But as the rubber bands were moved and the handkerchiefs hung out to dry, we were able to admire our amazing handy work. We had quite a lot of fun later styling out own cloths into such fashion accessories such as bandanas and neckerchiefs – probably not the traditional use, but hey! We are fabulous fashionistas like that, mixing the old and the new for a new hip style.

Korean Adventures: Tea, Dying & Pansori in JeonjuAfter all the dying (badumtsk), we were invited to take part in a tea ceremony in a very quaint little room just next to the courtyard where our handkerchiefs were drying. Just outside the room was a green tea plant, a speciality to this tea house which was used in the tea ceremony. We kneeled around small tables that had been carefully set up for the traditional tea ceremony. Before we had a go at brewing and serving the tea ourselves, we were carefully instructed and taught all the different moves of the ceremony by the same elegant hostess. We never knew that tea ceremonies were so intricate and involved so many small, but important steps. Each stage in the ceremony had a different meaning and was important for a significant reason. After receiving thorough instructions from our teacher, we got to try out being in charge ourselves. In groups of three and four, we each took turns being the host preparing the tea and pouring for the guest. Some of us were graceful than others, and we’re embarrassed to admit there was a bit of spillage going on in places!

Korean Adventures: Tea, Dying & Pansori in JeonjuWe thoroughly enjoyed the activities on offer at this tranquil tea house, and getting to take home a memento, in the form of a very stylish and personal handkerchief, will be a great reminder of the trip and this lovely place. We do have to say though, that one of our favourite parts of this place was the super adorable resident dog! Even though he took advantage of a few of our unattended patbingsu’s, he was a favourite of everyone’s and was getting hugs at every turn.

Korean Adventures: Tea, Dying & Pansori in JeonjuLater on in the evening, we attended a Pansori lesson. We’ve seen Pansori performed before in London, but this experience was very different. Firstly, we expected a stage and audience set up similar to what we’d previously experienced. However, we were greeted with something refreshingly different. This Pansori routine was situated on a room of an amazing Hanok complex, a very intimate set up where a Pansori singer was teaching a packed room full of enthusiastic listeners the lyrics and rhythm of the night’s Pansori. The singer taught us line by line so that we could attempt to singalong with the performance. This was so different from what we’ve experienced before, and it was fantastic to see how involved the audience can get, some were even brave enough to get up and sing solo!

The atmosphere and surroundings were beautiful and everyone was having a great time singing along. The room was so packed, that audiences spilled outside and people were all crammed at doorways too. This was obviously a very popular event in Jeonju. We were lucky enough to have a quick chat to the Pansori performer afterwards, and she was delighted that so many people were interested in this art form and how this very seemingly very Korean art form was being embraced all over the world. We were also luckily enough to have Dorothea with us on the tour, a fellow WKB blogger who was studying traditional music genres such as Pansori. We’ve often attended Pansori events with very little understanding, but Dorothea took the time explained all the little things to us. Like how the male drummer who accompanies the Pansori singer is very important and all his little shouts here and there are actually shouts of encouragement. She also told us to be careful about sitting in the front row of Pansori performances as a sign of a good Pansori performer is how well they improvise and interact and involve the audience. For many Pansori enthusiasts, the front seats are the much coveted seats for the chance to interact with the performer and get involved with the performance. This night gave us such an insight to the Pansori art form that we can’t wait to attend the next Pansori event available as we finally understand what’s happening!

Jeonju Hanok Village is such a tranquil and beautiful destination. Especially at night, the village is all lit up and has a dreamy fairy tale feel to all the streets. We are very happy that this was part of the tour because as Londoners, we’ve had a busy Summer of hustle and bustle. Jeonju, classified as a slow city, gave us a chance to really chill out, relax and de-stress. We 100% recommend this beautiful destination to all fellow city dwellers looking for a place to get away from it all!!!

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