Although I actually celebrated my own little version of Chuseok last year, this year marked my first Chuseok in Korea. Chuseok is the Korean harvest festival, or Korean Thanksgiving, which is usually celebrated some time in either September or October. Since the date is determined by the lunar calendar, it varies from one year to the next. This year, Chuseok was from September 14 through 16 followed by a weekend, meaning almost a whole week off work. Yay!
On the first day of Chuseok I met with my Korean best friend for our own Chuseok celebration in Hongdae. We met in the afternoon, and walked around Hongdae before deciding on a place to have dinner. We settled on a Japanese restaurant famous for their barbecue. We ordered two different kinds of beef and took turns grilling and serving the meat for each other. It was really delicious and the place was crowded despite the holiday season. We took our time enjoying the food and our sizable beers, and my friend pointed out that the owner sent us several glances signaling to us to speed up our meal, so new customers could enter. I know that Koreans usually get in, order, eat, and get out in a matter of 20 minutes, but we were in no hurry that evening. Haha, I’m sure they thought we were quite rude. Oh, well…
We continued our private Chuseok celebration at his friend’s café nearby and earned ourselves a free piece of tiramisu. At the café, my friend handed me a huge bag full of Chuseok food, which his mom had prepared for me. She was worried that I wouldn’t have the chance to have a proper home cooked meal during the holidays (she was right), so she had packed a whole box full of Korean foods like japchae, pajeon, and rice cakes. It was so incredibly sweet of her, and the food was so delicious!
Having finished our coffee and tiramisu, we then decided that a bottle of soju would be a suitable way to round off the evening, so we headed out to find a bar, which isn’t that difficult in Hongdae. We found a cozy place with comfortable couches and continued our bilingual talk over beer and soju – oh, so much soju. Well, at least I wasn’t the one who had to spend the next day celebrating Chuseok from 10 am at my uncle’s house. I could take care of my soju-induced headache watching netflix in my bed. Ah, life’s good!
After a quiet second day of Chuseok mostly spent at home with a delivery of chimaek (chicken and beer), I was ready for a new adventure on Friday. My husband and I had long been wanting to see some more Korean nature, so we had planned to hike Mt. Ansan in the northwestern corner of the city (check out my instagram for pictures). The climb to the summit took us about two hours, but it was really worth it. We were rewarded with a magnificent view of the entire city and the Han river, and of course all the surrounding mountains. Absolutely stunning!! There were so many people on that mountain, probably because of the holidays.
In general, I had expected Seoul to be much more deserted during the Chuseok holidays. However, several shops were open throughout, and the streets in Sinchon and around Ehwa definitely seemed as crowded as ever.
As of today, Chuseok is over, we’re back to normal, and I have mostly spent time at home doing a bit of work, and of course studying Korean. Several people have asked me if I still set aside time to study Korean on my own, now that I can speak Korean with my friends and colleagues every day. I most definitely do. At least for an hour and a half EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. No way but up, right?! 🙂