Tonight I finish my narrative of our trip last Sunday to the Korean Folk Village.
In the early afternoon on Sunday, after wandering through replicas of old Jeju Island farms, we ventured over to an open area where a Korean acrobat on a high wire performed a delicate balancing act. He did a fabulous job defying gravity, bouncing up and down on the rope, sitting on it, straddling it, and balancing himself on top. He balanced himself grasping only a handkerchief in one hand and a large white fan in the other. He used the fan to control his balance, waving it slowly, then feverishly to bring his body back into equilibrium. Dressed in a white, parachute-like costume, he wore a black Korean-style hat reminiscent of a Korean sage. He gave a wonderful performance.
20 minutes later we meandered over to the village Manor House, where we witnessed a Korean traditional wedding. The condensed ceremony that took place in the main courtyard highlighted the most intriguing aspects of a Korean wedding. As the ceremony began, the groom took his place to the east of the wedding altar and faced west, sitting with his legs crossed awaiting his bride. Symbolic foods lay atop the altar, waiting to be parceled to the bride and groom during the ceremony. An old sage to the north of the altar faced south and read the vows from an aged wedding book. A few minutes into the ceremony he called for the bride to come. She left the Manor House and descended its steps, entering the courtyard with two female assistants. They escorted her to the west of the altar and helped her kneel on both knees so that she faced east towards her future husband. As the sage chanted the wedding vows, assistants offered food and drink to the betrothed couple. I recall that they ate chestnuts, a symbol of the yangban, or Korean aristocracy, and other Korean delicacies. The bride’s arms were crossed and positioned over her face so that the groom could not see her until the ceremony ended. Prompted by the sage, the groom and bride stood and bowed to each other. Dressed in hanbok, Korean traditional dress, they made a handsome couple. The sage pronounced them married, and the ceremony ended as quickly as it started. I’m positive that I inadvertantly obscured some vital details about the ceremony, and the ceremony I watched was but a taste of true Korean traditional weddings. I am by no means an expert on Korean weddings. Having seen American, Chinese, Japanese, and Austrian weddings, I enjoyed seeing yet another cultural manifestation of an age-old ceremony. I do not know how authentic it was or whether I recorded it accurately.
After the wedding ceremony, my family wandered to the modern portion of the folk village south of the river. It stood in stark contrast to the rest of the folk village, filled with amusements and modern architecture and sculpture. We entered the children’s park and took our son on several rides. He first rode a roving mechanical dog. He is a bit apprehensive about getting close to animals, but he had no qualms climbing aboard this “dog” and letting it take him around the children’s park for a couple of minutes. When we were in Gyeongju last June, I tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to join me on a four-wheeler. He was too scared, and I rode alone. This slow-moving “dog” was just the thing he needed to have some mobile fun. Afterwards, mommy took him on a carrousel for his first carrousel ride, and daddy took him on the children’s train that circled the children’s park. He had a great time. He had so much fun that he didn’t nap all day long, and once we finished and went home he was out like a light. I was so fatigued that I wanted to do the same, but I had to wait until we returned home.