on wednesday, we had a break from lectures to go on a field trip to a traditional hanok village in jeonju. it’s a place that preserves the traditional culture of korea, complete with narrow old streets and heritage houses. in the morning, we got to decorate handmade paper fans by gluing on different colored paper (paper making and traditional korean paper, or hanji, is a very old art here). david actually won a prize (handmade soap in the shape of a teddy bear – perfect for him) for having the most artistically decorated fan. what a talented husband :). my fan was a bit more of an embarrassment, but in my defence, i didn’t have any scissors… or enough time.
we walked around and were able to observe how they make the traditional paper/hanji. it is so thick, and they are so skilled at making it, that at one time they used to make their armor for their warriors out of layers upon layers of this paper. they had tons of beautiful stationary, paper fans, paper lanterns, and paper kites for sale.
lunch was a much anticipated meal: bibimbap. it is almost as fun to eat as it is to say! jeonju is known for having the best bibimbap in the country (if not the world…). we sat next to elizabeth and her husband brady (who kindly took some pictures for us that day since our camera battery was on the brink of death) and we all worked together to try and distinguish what, exactly, we were eating. it was pretty good, but had a strong, fishy taste to it (even though i couldn’t find any fish in the actual dish). it seemed really healthy though, and had a wide variety of veggies mixed in.
after, we watched a traditional drum performance, also called samulnori, out on the street. the performers eventually welcomed all of us foreigners to join in on the fun and shared their hats and drums with us. it was a chaotic dance party, but fun to witness. we had some time to walk around Gyeonggijeon Shrine and the Jeondong Cathedral.
the next destination was a huge buddhist temple called Keumsan Temple, near Moak Mountain. there were so many massive, ancient buildings and statues. this country has such a deep, rich history – i often feel rather naive as i walk through it all. the scenery all around was so lush and green, with a beautiful creek wrapping around the buildings. we spotted a few buddhist monks wandering around, and apparently this is one of the principle buddhist centers in the region.