My Neighborhood

Folk Village in Winter: a little Old Korea near my home

Just a few minutes’ walk from my home, at the edge of the Yeungnam University campus, is a charming folk village that is a favorite spot for field trips, early-morning promenades, and bird-watching. The folk village is actually a complex of relocated historic buildings. In 1975, the first of its buildings was installed – a private Confucian school, Gugye Seowon 구계서원, originally built in 1696, during the Joseon dynasty.

The folk village area totals about 70,000 square meters, including the school complex, a peasant house, a library, a pavilion, and two traditional residences, or “hanok.” There is also a rice field that is regularly maintained, and a reconstructed ancient cemetery. All the buildings were relocated at different times from other areas in the country, and represent typical structures used during the Joseon dynasty.

Here, I share photos of just two of the village buildings, the school house and the peasant house.

I often come here to walk my dog, or just to stroll and take photos. It’s very close to my workplace at the university, as well as near to a small “living” village with some lovely mom-and-pop restaurants I like to visit.

Today was a tolerable day weather-wise, by Korean January standards – cold, but not too much wind – so I took my dog here for an extra long walk. The high temperature was about 8 degrees Celsius, or 40 Fahrenheit.

The photos here will contrast with those I shared with you just nine weeks ago, when I started this blog. Back then, it was October, and mid-Autumn, so the foliage was ablaze with color and the rice field was a ripe, burnished gold. Now, you can see that it is a dirt field, after being tilled. Winter does have its charms, though, and I captured a little of the crisp bleakness of the atmosphere today.

The peasant house is called Kkachi gumeong, or “Magpie Hole House.” Magpies are a beloved trickster figure in Korean folktales, and they are often-seen (and heard) residents of the Korean countryside.

I have included a photo of the peasant house layout, which depicts the main house, the detached privy, and mill. None of these are in working order; they are are just models. Some details around the structure include a cluster of large kimchi pots, as well as several trees with actual, modern-day magpies nesting there. Magpie nests are easy to see during the winter, when all the leaves have fallen and left them exposed, high up in the treetops.

My dog really enjoyed today’s walk, with all its sights, sounds, and smells. We met several dogs, birds, and even a cat along the way. The deer were likely hiding deeper in the bush, as they only come out in early morning or at dusk.

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