Thursday, July 18, 2013

Old Village in Goryeong Preserves Ancient Customs, Crafts

Most of the people living in the rural village of Gaesil in Goryeong, North Gyeongsang Province are over 70, but children's laugher can be heard throughout the year as youngsters come to experience local arts and crafts such as riding wooden rafts and making yeot, or sweet, sticky toffee made by boiling grains with malt.

These days the village is seeing more foreign visitors leave messages on the village's welcoming signboard, which features a dozen or so languages.

About 100 inhabitants live in 50 households in this small town and are mostly related, thus creating a strong sense of family bonding. "Almost 99 percent of the residents are related to one another. The village is fairly small, but it has a long history of 350 years," said one of the residents.

Visitors can enjoy making water pistols out of bamboo and cooking traditional Korean confectionaries.

"These days it's not easy to get the chance to make yeot. My kids really like it, and it also triggers memories of childhood days," said a housewife in her 40s from Daegu.

More active programs are also on offer, such as riding wooden rafts, and spending the night in a traditional Korean home with a meal of steamed rice cooked using bamboo.

"It's the kind of place where people can get hands-on experience at all sorts of traditional pastimes," said Kim Byung-man, head of the local village association. "We only hope that many people come and learn about Korea's traditional culture."

Time permitting, it's a good idea to stop by Daegaya Museum which houses artifacts from the ancient Gaya Kingdom and is only a 10-minute drive away.

In front of the museum, a cluster of ancient tombs provide a rare glimpse into life on the peninsula in bygone centuries. It also features various relics from the Paleolithic to modern periods.

For more information on the village, visit or call (054) 956-4022. To learn more about the museum, log on to its website at or call (054) 950-6071.

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