More than a three hour slow train ride south of the Seoul megapolis is Andong, a small, mostly nondescript city. An hour bus ride outside of Andong is Hahoe (pronounced Hahwe) Folk Village, the first place in Korea where I have experienced complete silence. No cars, no buses, no music, no trains; just people walking around and a river.
The village is well over 600 years old, with many of the buildings at least a couple of hundred years old. Originally the home of a single clan, with a couple of dozen houses to housing them.
Today, most of the houses serve as guest houses, offering a traditional night away from much of modern society.
Some of the houses are a little more rustic than others, showing the varying degrees of wealth within the village.
There are a few modern aspects to the town and since today it serves primarily as a tourist destination, there are a number of tourist trinket shops.
Andong is famous for its masks and the dance associated with them and shamanism, Korea's ancient religion. Korean masks in general are fantastically expressive and incredibly interesting on their own.
There were even workshops for you to make your own masks.
Keeping that traditional vending machine culture alive.
There were a handful of re-enactors in the village. Just enough to be interesting, but not too many as to be annoying or kitschy. Here we have two women in traditional Korean hanbok, hitting cloth with wooden pins to bang out the wrinkles...as they watch soap operas on a flatscreen TV off to the left.
The original villagers planted a beautiful small forest near the river to help block the winter winds.
A river runs almost completely around the village with this amazing cliff off to one end. I imagine the river must have been the most amazing place to cool off in during the summer in the pre-electricity days. There's a tiny ferry that can take you across the river to hike up the cliff, where I'm sure the views are fantastic. We were a bit pressed for time, so we couldn't get up there.
A lot of the land in Hahoe is still used for farming and is kept by the local re-enactors in their period clothing. This rice field up against the mountains was the most serenely quiet place.