Our next stop on our tour was Seongeup Folk Village where we had lunch and a tour of a traditional house. That of course was after a short period of looking around and exploring and seeing some of the original still standing dol hareubang. Throughout the island you can find these statues, as guardians of the island. There are four outside of one of the gates to the folk village.
You can see how different they are yet similar to the modern ones as these that we found near the village restaurants which is more common to how they look throughout the rest of the island.
I’m sure there’s more to do in the folk village but other than climbing to the top of the gate to look around and at some cosmos in bloom we didn’t do much before hurrying to lunch.
Lunch was included in our tour and one of two options; black pork bulgogi or vegetarian/halla friendly bibimbap. We went for the black pork bulgogi. Usually when I think of bulgogi I think of a sweet marinated beef dish. However this one lived up to its true name: “fire meat”. It was cooked at the table like a stew or dakgalbi. In Korea I tend to know if I can’t eat something by its color and when this cooked it was bright red. One bite and I was shoving rice down my throat. However my aunt and uncle loved it, not minding the spice. My aunt couldn’t taste any spice and my uncle could just barely, noting that by him being able to taste it probably meant I couldn’t eat it. The side dishes were pretty good though. And it was filling.
There isn’t a bathroom in the restaurant instead there is a public bathroom towards the back of the village. Since all of the buildings are traditional and rather old, they don’t have indoor bathrooms. After lunch we re-boarded our van to go a short distance to meet with a man whose house has been in a drama.
He met us at the gate with sun protection umbrellas to talk to us about life on Jeju island in the past and now. He explained the simple gates used throughout the island. It’s comprised of two stone blocks with three holes in them and three posts.
These gates have a subtle meaning behind them and had a ton more in the past. They’re to keep live stock in, but also a way to communicate with your neighbors or possible visitors. With all of them down like in the first picture it’s saying “we’re home, come on in” and then each post added says how long you’re to be gone. One may mean, “Gone out, children are home alone, be back soon” and two may be “Gone for the night, be back tomorrow” and the third is “Gone for a couple days”. Our guide then showed us around his house, where he’d been born and that had been in his family for many generations, that his great (many great) grandfather built.
He talked about the differences between life on the island and life on mainland, like how on the island your Zodiac animal is important to know. If you were born in the year of the pig and your significant other was born in the year of the snake, no one on the island will marry you, you’ll have to go to mainland. Or that in the past women did all the work on the island and men lived a bit like lazy kings. (His words were “Superwoman” and “king who drank and gambled”). Towards the end he let us sample some 오미자차 Omija-cha, explaining that you’re not really suppose to be able to taste the five different flavors, but depending on what you tasted explained how your body was doing. Since we’d all just eaten the tea tasted sweet, but if it had tasted bitter, sour, salty, or pungent then it could mean something with our body may need to be looked at, or we may have needed to get more sleep or change something in our life style. He also sold it for about 40,000 won as well as a beauty cream with horse oil, that he thankfully moved on quickly from since none of us could carry them on our flights. He also introduced us to his pig and explained the traditional pig bathroom on Jeju.
Our tour ended with a ton of photos, where he walked us to all the highlights of his house and took pictures for us and then bid us a fond farewell. He was a great guide and probably the highlight of our stop (though it was really cool to see the original dol hareubang)
2 thoughts on “Seongeup Folk Village 성읍민속마을”
I would love to visit this place myself one day. I wonder whether there is any information about Korean folk religion or shamanism over there?
– Dyami Millarson
The residents of the village chat with visitors and I’m sure would be happy to share everything they know about folk religions and shamanism in relation to Jeju’s history.