[Been There Done That] Wear the King’s Mask to be King
[Been There Done That] Wear the King’s Mask to be King
  • Reporter Lee Suh-young
  • 승인 2011.10.12 19:24
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Here comes October again, a beautiful month for travelling and sightseeing as the weather is not too cold yet, and there are many festivals held around nearby areas. Located in the middle of Gyeongsangbuk-do, Andong is a place where genuine Korean tradition is still alive. Despite the recent boom in the tourist industry by adding it to the UNESCO World Heritage List on 2010, Andong Hahoe Folk Village has not lost its touch with its rich cultural heritage, providing visitors a taste of the essence of Korea’s traditional lifestyles.

Hahoe Village holds its significance in that it has preserved the architectural style of the Chosun Dynasty, such as aristocratic tiled-roofed residences and thatched-roof commoners’ homes.

With the Nakdong River flowing around the village, the sheer rock Buyongdae Cliff, and lush, ancient pine groves, Hahoe Village boasts exquisite scenic sights. Because of its incredible natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere, Hahoe Village has been used as a backdrop to many historical dramas.

In addition to scenery, there is one more thing that you must not miss- the Hahoe Byeolsingut mask dance play combined with lively dancing and music. The history of the Hahoe Byeolsingut mask dance play goes back more than eight hundred years.

According to the legend, a young craftsman named Hur received a vision from God to carve a mask in complete solitude for one hundred days. Hur sequestered himself far away from the village, but a young maiden who loved him found his camp when he had almost completed his task. As soon as they laid eyes on each other, the young craftsman died, leaving the mask uncompleted. To this day, Hahoe masks lack a jaw so that it can reflect emotions through the shape of mouths.

As the commoners obtained higher status in the social hierarchy by amassing wealth in the 17th century of Chosun Dynasty, the mask dance play gradually became a satire where commoners would poke fun at nobles. Finally, the Hahoe Byeolsingut mask dance became a great traditional Korean festival where nobles and commoners would enjoy the festivities as equals.
Between the end of September and early October, the Andong International Mask Dance Festival is held and this year’s festival is titled ‘Festival, Make me a King’. During the festival, anybody can wear the king’s mask to be a king, and the queen’s mask to be a queen.