Travel Destination: Andong, South Korea
Located in Gyeongsangbuk-Do in South Korea, the town of Andong (located roughly in the middle of the province) is rural, quiet and becoming more popular with tourists in recent years whilst still maintaining its traditional character at the same time.
Andong is famous for its strong soju, its mackerel dishes and its wooden masks. With a population of some 169,000 Andong is a good location for tourists who want to explore the surrounding areas.
Andong Folk Village is a must see sight for anyone staying at Andong. It can be found about 40 minutes away on foot on a hillside. It was created to serve as a repository for homes moved in 1976 to prevent them from being flooded when the Andong Dam was constructed. The village looks so realistic that the KBS TV network has used it to stage historical dramas.
The Andong Folklore Museum can be found next door to the village. Inside are many different displays of Korean folk traditions from birth to death. It is a fascinating place where tourists can gain insights into Korean folklore and traditions.
To get to the village, around 3km east of Andong, travellers should catch the number Three bus which runs every 35 minutes, and then get off at minsokchon (folk village). A taxi will cost around W2500.
The Soju Museum is the next stop on the list and is found south of Andong. A taxi or by the buses 34 or 36 are the best way to reach the museum.
The museum has good English explanations and gives interesting displays of seasonal traditional meals. In addition to this, odd displays such as ‘The Birthday Table of Queen Elizabeth Herself’ when the queen visited the town in 1999.
The strong drink soju is not to everyone’s palate – at 45% proof, it is very strong and should be drunk in moderation. The museum offers a guide to the distilling process, the drinking ceremony itself and the history of it. At the end of the tour, a thimble sized taste is given.
If temples are more your thing, the Shilla period temple Bongjeongsa should be right up your street. It has an inspiring small waterfall and a rushing stream and the ornately decorated Geungnakjeon (Paradise Hall) is believed to be the oldest wooden structure in Korea. Tourists can reach here by taking the 51 bus and then walking 500 m.
Sometime at the end of September to early October, the Andong Mask Dance Festival is held and visitors travelling to Andong at this time should not miss it. The festival brings together a fascinating display of national and international mask dance troops and shows the amazing dance and music performances.
Visiting Andong is a must-do for anyone travelling to South Korea. With its traditional manner, breathtaking scenery and friendly people, tourists will not be disappointed.