The article courtesy of Seoul magazine
Dosan Seowon, one of Korea's most spectacular Confucian schools
It wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to call Andong the anti-Seoul. As the nation's capital rushes headlong into the 21st century, Andong remains proudly anchored in its illustrious past. This is a a place of charming old villages, rustic country manor homes, wizened Confucian gentlemen, and patterns of life that have changed little over the last six centuries. Arguably the most Confucian town in the world's most Confucian nation, Andong is all about healthy living, Joseon Dynasty-style.
Hahoe Village 하회마을 and Byeongsan Seowon 병산서원
Hahoe means "enveloped by water," and in the case of Hahoe Village, that's no lie—like many of southeast Korea's historic communities, it sits on a sandy oxbow in the lazily meandering Nakdonggang River. The home of the Pungsan Ryu clan, the village has produced more than its fair share of luminaries throughout history, most notably the 16th-century prime minister and statesman Ryu Seong-ryong. Despite the centuries, the village has remained remarkably well preserved, so much so that it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010.
Bongjeongsa Temple 봉정사
While most of Andong's main tourist destinations are connected with the Confucian Joseon Dynasty, Bongjeongsa Temple is a jewel of the preceding Goryeo Dynasty, when Buddhism was Korea's dominant religion. It is best known for its Geungnakjeon ("Nirvana Hall"), Korea's oldest surviving wooden building. Besides Geungnakjeong, the temple is home to several lovely pieces of early and mid-Joseon Dynasty architecture. An especially enchanting spot is Yeongsanam, a 19th-century hermitage just to the right of the main temple.
Dosan Seowon 도산서원
Located in the far northeast of Andong, just past the large, snaky reservoirs formed by the construction of the Andong and Imha Dams, is Dosan Seowon, Korea's best-known Joseon Dynasty Confucian academy and shrine. Founded in 1574 by the students of Yi Hwang, one of Korea's two greatest Confucian philosophers and an Andong favorite son, the academy was dedicated to sustaining Yi's particular school of Confucian thought. It was also one of only a handful of private Confucian academies that survived a late 19th-century crackdown on such institutions.
Wolyeonggyo Bridge 월영교
Andong's best night destination is Wolyeonggyo Bridge, a beautiful Korean-style wooden span than crosses the lake just in front of the imposing Andong Dam. At 387 m in length, it's the longest wooden bridge in Korea. At night, it's lit up, and there's a fountain display, too, making it a wonderful spot to enjoy an evening stroll. The lake is often covered in fog, producing a wonderfully mysterious landscape of water, mountains, and ghostly reflections.
Andong International Maskdance Festival (Sep 27-Oct 6)
Andong is well-known for the talchum, a form of storytelling through dance in which the participants wear masks. Unique versions of the talchum can be found throughout Korea, but the version performed for centuries by the residents of Hahoe Village is considered one of the most representative. Rooted in Korea's heritage of shamanism, the mask dance is part shamanistic rite, part enter-
Eat Andong has a unique local cuisine. Some of its better known foods are gan godeungeo (salted mackerel), sikhye (a sweet rice beverage), and Andong soju, a hand-brewed spirit that's miles away from the rough, cheap soju you'll find in convenience stores across Korea. One local favorite that has gone national is Andong jjimdak, or steamed chicken, vegetables, and cellophane noodles served with a sweet sauce made from soy sauce. There's an alleyway of small shops selling this dish in Andong's Gusijang Market. Another local specialty is heotjesabap ("fake jesa food"), a variety of the bibimbap that was traditionally served as a sacrifice during the jesa, or Confucian memorial rite. Rather than be offered for sacrifice, however, the heotjesabap was eaten, hence its unusual name. Many of the restaurants in Hahoe Village serve this dish.
Stay If you're looking for cheap accommodations, the area in front of Andong Station has an assortment of motels and inns. If you're spending the night in Andong, though, do yourself a favor and stay in one of the town's many hanok guesthouses. Hahoe Village has the greatest concentration of these, including the beautiful 19th-century mansion Bukchondaek (T. 054-853-2110, www.bukchondaek.com), where rooms begin at KRW 200,000 a night. Another high-end option is the Andong branch of the boutique hanok hotel Rakkojae (T. 054-857-3410, www.rkj.co.kr), where rooms start at KRW 180,000 a night.
Go Buses to Andong depart from Seoul's Central City and Dong Seoul Bus Terminals (travel time: about 3 hours). Andong's new bus terminal is a bit out of town. There are also several trains to Andong that depart from Seoul's Cheongnyangni Station.
The article courtesy of Seoul magazine