Fall in the Folk Village

Trip Start Dec 02, 2011
Trip End Dec 02, 2012

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Flag of Korea Rep.  , South Chungcheong,
Sunday, October 28, 2012

I awoke this morning to a beautiful autumn day, so I decided to make a quick trip to the Oeam Folk VIllage (외암민속마을). A bit outside of the city of Asan, Oeam was an approximately 500-year old, traditional village still inhabited by the descendents of it's founder. While part of it has been converted for tourists, the majority of the village was still inhabited. It was even possible to spend the night in the village, although I'm not sure how easy that would be without speaking Korean very well.

I actually didn't learn much from my trip today, despite English descriptions on all of the signs. My main goal, apart from enjoying the crisp air and a bit of fall color, was to try out a new camera. So I spent lots of time playing with buttons, working on my framing, and appreciating the scenery, but not so much reading placards with the details of historical Korean village life.

The village was a great place for a stroll. Although the fact that it was still inhabited meant the occasional car honking to get clueless visitors (myself included on occasion) to move out of the way, it was nice to think of the area as a living village and not just a shell mocked-up for the tourists.

The one negative from today wasn't actually the fault of the village. There were quite a few Koreans who had the same idea as me to enjoy the fall air. While the crowds weren't excessive, for some reason I did have greater than the usual number of strangers taking my picture randomly. Usually it doesn't bother me too much, although it makes absolutely no sense to me, but today there were two guys who irritated me a bit.

The first was an old guy who spoke just a bit of English. He asked me to take a picture with his family, no big deal at that point, but then he insisted on attempting to talk to me while I was trying to watch the village's folk festival show. Also, not really a big deal, but I wasn't there to talk to him, and possibly my least favorite thing in the world is making small talk with strangers. It didn't help that he had a very thick accent so I couldn't understand a lot of what he said or that he was trying unsuccessfully to talk over the blaring music.

At one point he decided to up the awkwardness by dragging me over to his grandchildren and harassing them to speak to me in English and show me their rendition of Gangnam-style. They were having none of it and made their escape when I decided I'd humored him enough to be polite and turned back to the show I was trying to watch. His adult children never said anything to me or made eye contact apart from when he wrangled them into taking pictures of me. I think they were embarrassed by the whole thing as well. His wife seemed nice.

The second guy wasn't at all demanding of my time, he just stuck a zoom lens with a huge hood on it into my face and took a bunch of pictures in burst mode. He was a bit off to my left when he took the photos and appeared shocked when I looked over at him after he took them. For some reason he was surprised that I noticed this. Although I was not terribly amused, I did give him a polite smile. I suppose I should have yelled at him or something instead because now I've just encouraged him to go on taking intrusive pictures of foreigners.

Oh well, no big deal. The folk music show wasn't very good anyway (since it was staged rather than authentic, it lacked a certain enthusiasm), and I managed to spend the rest of my time strolling the village fiddling with my camera in solitude. So all in all it was a very good day, and I might go back if I ever find myself looking for a photogenic place for a relaxed stroll that's not too hard to reach.
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