Monday, 5 April 2010

The Andeok First Moon Festival

Only a few weeks have passed since Ken and I returned from the ‘land of the rising sun’, and ever since then, I’ve been meaning to take note of what had happened that day…


Exhausted and in need of a 24-hour siesta, Ken and I finally arrived back in Andeok - our lovely, quaint little village which was night-and-day, compared to the fast-paced society of Tokyo, Japan.

We stumbled into our only convenience store, careful not to knock over any items with our red and blue, bulging packsacks. We were met with more than a hello from the store’s owners, who were beaming at the sight of us. They immediately informed us of a festival going on in just a couple hours, right in front of the police station. They told us that the festival was to celebrate the first new moon of the New Year (according to the moon calendar). “7:00pm!” they reminded us as we left their store.

As soon as we stepped into our house for the first time in two weeks, we soaked our dirt- and sweat-laden clothes in laundry detergent and settled back in.

A couple hours later, a massive explosion rocked our frail house…followed by another one, and an even louder one. Our house was almost reduced to ruins.

We found bursts of colour, setting ablaze the eerie black sky, and knew that this was the biggest event to hit our little town of Andeok thus far. The fireworks were magnificent and both Ken and I were in awe of the spectacular show the Andeok community was putting on tonight.

We grabbed what we could to shield ourselves from the freezing temperature (~ 0oC). Ken wore a light spring jacket and I put on his only remaining sweater. All of our winter clothes were soaked in soapy water by the time we decided to go.


We ran into the night toward the mysterious cloud of smoke, looming in the distance. Feeding into it was a huge bonfire of 20 trees which had been cut from the mountain. Surrounding the hill of fire was a crowd of more than a few hundred people – some were happily (or drunkenly) chatting with each other, some were dancing wildly around each other, moving to the singer and his background music, and others were eating and drinking away at the free food and alcohol that was being offered under a tent. It was the time to celebrate – a fresh start to the New Year.

Here’s the festival in a whirlwind: Ken and I caught up with one of the convenience store owners and he introduced us to the Mayor of Andeok (who has memorized both my name and Ken’s), the organizer of the event, a bee house keeper, one of my student’s parents, Aunt Kimchi’s younger brother, and some of their children. We all ate, drank, and chatted merrily and watched the night come to a close with a final town lottery. Our local shopkeeper had been anxiously watching his tickets the entire night (he ended up winning a prize…but then gave it away to a pushy ajumma).

Oh…but the townsfolk weren’t finished with us yet. Ken and I were literally pulled to our village’s main bar by our local convenience store owner and my student’s father. Suffice to say, we consumed enough beer, soju, and food for over three families…and their relatives. With a full night of charades, the convenience store owner established that he was our father in Korea, and that we (his Western children) would be giving him the grand tour of Canada once his family could afford to go.

After drinking down one final beer in his store, we walked back to our home…completely inebriated…but happy :).

Oh dynamic Korea…how we missed you!

- Jess

1 comment:

  1. Jess- you guys should know by now to expect the unexpected! Have you ever planned a quiet evening that turned out to be a quiet evening yet?? You guys don't really need sleep anyway at your young age. :)