Oeam Village Experience Review
Oeam Village - 1day activity review
- Date: June 15, 2014
- Participants: Dianna Alexander-Oates, Courtney Bogus (United States)
With the Inspired Steps Village Experience program, I and a fellow university student were able to go to Oeam Folk Village in Asan. The instructions for how to get to the village were very clear, and we were able to travel by bus from Seoul to Asan, and then by taxi from the Asan Bus Terminal to the Folk Village, without any mishaps.
The first thing we were struck by was the location and operations of the village itself. Surrounded by mountains and rice fields, Oeam folk village was a nice natural retreat away from the busy urban jungle of Seoul. But it was also exciting to see that Oeam is in fact a working village. People still live in the traditional buildings, farm around the village, and some give visitors who buy traditional snacks or drinks a peek inside their homes. The prices for the drinks and snacks range from 500 – 3,000 won. The drinks are especially worth the price if you did not plan for the summer humidity and bring water with you. You still get some history, though, as there are signs posted (in both Korean and English) that tell you about who used to live and work in particular homes.
As my friend and I got a little lost trying to find the Activity Center, we simply took the time to wander around the village. This led to us to discover many different types of seating areas around the village (almost like a park), and made us wish that we had brought a picnic lunch with us to sit and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
The food offered at the two restaurants near the village entrance were diverse and tradtional. The staff at the restaurant across the street from the ticket booth were very helpful in reading the all-Korean menu, and in finding us a place to sit among the large, family-style tables. My friend and I chose the seafood pancake to split, and found it very filling. But the best part about the restaurant was that it seemed to follow the traditional feel of the Village itself; though everyone was dressed in modern clothing, the experience of ordering the food, sitting among (and sometimes next to) a large group of Koreans, and eating a traditional food extended our glimpse into Korean traditional life into the modern era.
Inside Oeam, most of the experiences you can have are concentrated around the Folk Museum, which is a grouping of buildings showing a low-, middle-, and high-class style home. These homes allow visitors to walk through the buildings and really get a feel for the size and grandeur (or not) of traditional Korean homes. Though you cannot step inside these buildings, they are filled with furniture, bedding, equipment, and other knick-knacks that would fit the lifestyle of a particular class. There is also a large dirt area to one side of the Museum filled with traditional Korean games (and even a punishment rack). Seeing the full set-up of the houses, combined with watching families play the traditional games, really gives you a full picture of the lifestyle in a traditional Korean village.
We were surprised to discover inside the Folk Museum a free traditional Korean wedding experience being offered. We were a little disappointed that it was a wedding experience, and my friend and I did not have enough Korean language skill to ask if we could just try on the hanbok. Future visitors may want to see if they have the option to just try on the traditional clothes, since many of the places to do this in Seoul are a little expensive.
Near the Folk Museum were traditional-style swing-sets, which my friend and I absolutely loved. These were a hit with all ages, as they were a simple, enjoyable, and free way to do something that was done hundreds of years ago. Also near the Folk Museum is the Activity Center. The activities there were also enjoyable, but seemed to be more for families with younger children, and you also have to pay for them. The list of activities posted includes all the activities the Center offers, but thankfully Inspired Steps had already informed us which activities were being offered that day.
Overall, my friend and I really enjoyed our time at Oeam Folk Village. Inspired Steps put together a wonderful experience, and helped make our immersion into this part of Korean culture easy. While I think that this Village Experience may be better suited for families due to the types of activities available, I do think that it is a nice day-trip outside of Seoul and offers a unique look at how a folk village can be both a museum and a working community. Oeam Folk Village is definitely worth the visit!