A Chuseok for all
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Chuseok, literally known as “autumn eve,” is a three-day holiday to celebrate good harvest in Korea. The holiday could be prolonged with an additional day or two of substituted holiday, if the holiday itself overlaps with the weekend. People visit their ancestral hometowns and share a feast of Korean traditional food and some even practice charye, which is the ancestor memorial service at home, and seongmyo, which is the family visit to the ancestral graves. That is why during Chuseok, you may feel like Seoul is rather empty as if a zombie apocalypse has just happened. For the first few days, you may enjoy the empty seats on subways, but loneliness starts to creep in as time goes by, especially for foreign students.
On September 20th from 11am to 3pm, a Chuseok event was held for both Korean and foreign students in front of Engineering Building I. The event was organized by the management team of the college of engineering and HISA, which is a group consisting of both Korean and foreign students to fully support foreign engineering students. Lee Moon-suk (Department of Organic and Nano Engineering, 3rd year) who is one of the HYCE International Student Ambassador (HISA) members, said “we hold Chuseok event every year. We thought it was a good idea because especially during this time, foreign students have nowhere to go, most of the restaurants are closed, and all their Korean friends have left the city. They end up just eating cup noodles and stay bored. We wanted to make Chuseok something that both Korean and international students can enjoy, so we came up with this event.”
The Chuseok event consisted of four booths in total. The first booth was the food corner, where people could eat traditional Korean food such as jeon (Korean pancake), mandu (Korean dumplings), makgeolli (Korean rice wine), shikhae (Korean rice beverage for dessert), and sujeonggwa (Korean traditional cinnamon punch). The second booth was the craft area, where students draw and paint on fans, hahoetal (traditional Korean masks worn in t’al nori ceremony, to represent the stock characters needed in the dance) and gaksital (traditional Korean bridal mask). The third booth was a DIY corner where you could make your own songpyeon (half-moon-shaped rice cake)-shaped soaps. The fourth and the last booth was the one where you could play traditional Korean games such as tuho (requires players to throw sticks from a set distance into a large canister), palssireum (arm wrestling), jegichagi (players kick a paper jegi into the air, trying to keep it aloft), and ddakji chigi (game of folded paper tiles). Students could try on hanbok (traditional Korean dress) or take pictures with HISA students already in their hanbok attire.
Aimi (Mechanical Engineering, 4th year), Aliaa (Mechanical Engineering, 4th year), Fariza (Mechanical Engineering, 3rd year), and Aisyah (Mechanical Engineering, 4th year) each held a fan and masks they decorated. With big smiles on their faces, they said they thoroughly enjoyed the event. “We were informed about this event through email. Although it's raining today, we still very much enjoyed the booths and thought it was quite helpful for students like us to get familiarized with Chuseok. We learn about it in class, but here we get to try it out ourselves,” said Aisyah. “For me, I also tried the game booth, and although I did enjoy it, I wish they would at least give me a brief explanation about the history of the game as they simply told me what to do,” said Aimi. In terms of improvement, everybody agreed that the booth should be moved to a more spacious area, as it was right in front of the building causing chaos among students in line for the booths, and students rushing to class.
Nevertheless, the bustling booth was a heartwarming scene in a gloomy weather. Happy Chuseok!
Park Joo-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kang Cho-hyun
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