Religious Dances and Formal Ceremonies
I went on another day tour with the Royal Asiatic Society. I met up with my tour group outside of Anguk subway station, exit 6, at 9:30 a.m. There was a vendor selling socks and writing supplies nearby, while we waited a lot of the other attendees browsed the merchandise. I met with my friend who I had met on my previous one day tour at Petite France. (Click on the link to read my experience at Petite France & Garden of Morning Calm One Day Tour.
Once we were all assembled outside of the station our tour guide waited for the next bus to take us to Sungkyunkwan University. This would be my first experience catching a local bus in Seoul. What can I say about the bus system in South Korea? While I was happy I was with my tour group and I didn’t have to pay attention to directions, I was not happy about our bus driver.
In total, we were a group of twenty along with the regular commuters. The bus driver swerved along the bends in the road a little to fast. My body swayed back and forth with each turn. While I was holding onto the bus rail for dear life through the twists and turns as we went up the mountain I tried to look out at the view.
First, we toured the University campus and we were able to see the long history of the campus that has existed for over 600 years.
It was amazing to believe that this was a place the scholars of the Joseon Dynasty had once studied and debated the hot topic issues of the day. We stood in front of a tree that was more than four hundred years old and I wondered how many scholars and teachers had sat under that tree? If only they could share their stories, what stories would they have to tell?
The ceremony began and we watched the scholars line up and take commemorative pictures.
In a slow march, the scholars walked into an open area where the main Seokjeon Daeje, (ceremonial rite) would take place. Watching the ceremony that was all in Korean I understood a little more of the traditions from Korean dramas, but it was nothing compared to hearing the drums, seeing the synchronized dance, and sacred offerings, this was a brand new experience.
The performers lined up in eight rows with eight dancers in each row, with dozens of musicians performing a synchronized ceremony. My friend and I noticed that most of the drummers who played the instruments were all women. Additionally, there was someone standing at the front of the group leading the drummers and keeping them on a beat and in sync with a sound made by a small musical instrument.
After the ceremony ended they offered a free lunch in a nearby pavilion. We decided to skip the free lunch and head over to Insadong shopping district. I was craving Samgyeopsal (삼겹살), which is literally my favorite meal. It consists of a bowl of white rice, pork, garlic, red pepper paste, vegetarian kimchi (my preference), green onions, and lettuce to wrap it all together. I could have it every day and not get tired. That and those little pieces of orange chicken with beef seaweed soup.
I discovered this was my favorite meal during my frequent trips to the faculty cafeteria at school. To the lunch ladies at Hankuk University for keeping me nourished and healthier than I have ever been on a balanced diet, I would truly like to say thank you. They were there when I needed homemade food on days when it was too cold to function properly.
Overall, touring the campus and attending the Confucian ceremony at Sungkyunkwan University was an eye-opening experience and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to attend.
If you want to continue reading my travel adventures in Seoul, South Korea check out my travel diary.