Monday, September 08, 2014

Happy Chuseok!

Today, Monday, September 8, is the official day of Chuseok in South Korea. Chuseok is often called a "Korean harvest festival" or even "Korean Thanksgiving." It's a time for families to gather together at the keun-jip—literally, the "big house," i.e., the house of the eldest sibling (usually the eldest brother). Lots of good food and familial conviviality, although I sense the tradition is dying away, bit by bit, as smartphones erode our sense of family, and other types of tech keep us from wanting to hang together for very long.

This Chuseok is supposed to be special, astronomically speaking, because there won't simply be a traditional harvest full moon: there's going to be a supermoon (September 9 for you readers in America: Korea is thirteen hours ahead of the US east coast). I'd like to find myself somewhere very dark and isolated to witness this amazing moon, but alas, I'm probably going to be hiking up the very light-polluted Namsan.

Today, my buddy Tom has invited me to go along with him and his wife and son to Weolmido, a humble little island on the west coast. I've been there once before, on a trip I took to the coast alone; the island is firmly attached to the mainland by bridges and a slew of other structures, to the point that it's hard to realize that you've left the mainland and are now on the island. There's a nice, windy boardwalk on Weolmido, as well as a long row of seafood restaurants, most of which specialize in hwae, or sashimi (raw fish). Tom is mainly interested in the nearby Chinatown, so we're likely to visit that area and chow down on some "real" Chinese food, since that's where so many ethnic Chinese folks live.

May your own Chuseok be a happy one, whether you find yourself with in-laws or relatives or friends, or even if you find yourself alone and quietly enjoying the scenery. Most of the country also has Tuesdays off, and some of us are lucky to have Wednesday off as well. Personally, I'll be busy on both of those days, but at least I'll enjoy a placid Monday among friends.

Happy Chuseok!


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