Post #27 – With regular frequency, a Gwanghwamun Plaza Folk Fair is held right in front of the palace, along the pedestrian area. I found it several times, and it is most probably linked to special holidays and festivities. There was no official information about it online, but Sunday’s are good days to visit the Gwanghwamun Plaza and see what’s in store.
The plaza is described in Wikipedia as below:
“Gwanghwamun Plaza is a public open space on Sejongno and is part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government‘s plans for environmentally friendly renovation projects such as the Cheonggye Stream and Seoul Plaza. It is also of historical significance as the location for royal administrative buildings, and features statues of the Admiral Yi Sun-sin of Joseon Dynasty and King Sejong the Great of Joseon.”
The fair includes national costume rentals for photo ops, stalls with agricultural exhibits where kids can learn how to process foods as their ancestors did, arts and crafts, calligraphy artists at work, and much more.
It is a true heaven for families with children, since there are many interactive booths where they can learn new things or do creative artwork, as well as watch live performances of folk music and dance. This past fair was on Sunday, September 3rd and it coincided with the Seoul World Friendship Fair, making all together for a huge and diverting experience.
The overall feeling of these incredibly busy fairs is actually of peace and quiet, in spite of drums drumming and kids playing. There is no hectic. Parents teach and explain; kids pay attention; old folks sit back and watch in freedom, eating and drinking; while the car traffic is kept out of the way. The Gwanghwamun Plaza Folk Fair is one more true testimony to the Korean way of life – discipline, cultural enrichment, and reverence toward their past, ideally placed within the geographic context of Korea’s most historic of all places.
A bit of Wiki Trivia for the curious: a list of percussion instruments or drums used traditionally in Korea. If percussion is your passion, Korea is your destination. Thanks Wikipedia!
- Buk (hangul: 북) – Double-headed shallow barrel drum used in folk music and played with one stick or one hand and one stick; varieties of buk are used in pansori, pungmul, and samulnori
- Janggu or Janggo (hangul: 장고 or 장구; hanja: 杖鼓 or 長鼓) – A double-headed hourglass-shaped drum generally played with one stick and one hand
- Galgo (hangul: 갈고; hanja: 羯鼓) – Double-headed hourglass-shaped drum similar to the janggo but played with two sticks and thinner drum heads; sometimes called yanggo or yangjanggo; no longer commonly used 
- Jingo (hangul: 진고; hanja: 晉鼓) – Largest barrel drum
- Jeolgo (hangul: 절고; hanja: 節鼓) – Barrel drum
- Jwago (hangul: 좌고; hanja: 座鼓) – A barrel drum in a wooden frame
- Geongo (hangul: 건고; hanja: 建鼓) – Huge barrel drum
- Yonggo (hangul: 용고; hanja: 龍鼓) – A barrel drum with a dragon painted on its shell; used in daechwita
- Eunggo (hangul: 응고; hanja: 應鼓) – Barrel drum suspended from a frame
- Sakgo – (hangul: 삭고; hanja: 朔鼓) – A long barrel drum suspended from a wooden frame
- Gyobanggo (hangul: 교방고; hanja: 敎坊鼓) – Flat drum suspended from a frame
- Junggo (hangul: 중고; hanja: 中鼓) – Flat drum suspended from a frame; similar to the gyobanggo but larger
- Sogo (hangul: 소고; hanja: 小鼓) – A small hand-held drum
- Nogo (hangul: 노고; hanja: 路鼓) – A set of two drums pierced by a pole
- Nodo (hangul: 노도; hanja: 路鼗) – A set of two small drums on a pole, which is twisted to play; used in ritual music
- Yeongdo (hangul: 노도; hanja:靈鼗) – Four drums on a pole, which is twisted to play; used in ritual music
- Noedo (hangul: 뇌도; hanja: 雷鼗)) – six small drums hung in a frame; used in ritual music
- Noego (hangul: 뇌고; hanja: 雷鼓) – Three small barrel drums on a pole, which is twisted to play; used in ritual music
- Do (도) – single pellet drum on a pole