Sunday, June 29, 2014

Exploring Insadong!

Wow, we are about 2 weeks into our trip already with so much more to see and do! It's amazing it's about halfway through and we have already accomplished so much. From educational museum visits to teaching in Suwon high school, we are doing it all!

Today was a day set aside to accomplish some free time, shopping, and cultural activities. Most of our group got to experience Insadong. Insadong is an area in Seoul known for their shopping stands containing Korean souvenirs, most of which are handmade.

Decorative Fan and Card

Probably my favorite purchased item is the decorative card. Insadong has tons of cute little shops along the way and one sold decorative items. I paid a small price and then they personalized it with my name in Korean for free! This is especially exciting for me; with a name like Stacia I never get to find souvenirs with my name on them! There were plenty of other knick-knacks to purchase in the souvenir shops such as decorative boxes, traditional chopsticks, and of course keychains that say "Korea" as the typical souvenir to take home.

I have also seen quite a few shops in Insadong that sell a pair of ducks. I asked someone about it since I kept seeing it in almost every shop. I thought it was a cute story, I love all the Korean traditions we get the chance to learn! The wooden Mandarin ducks symbolize a happy couple and are called wedding ducks. Traditionally Koreans would give them to a newly married couple to wish a long happy life together, like the ducks. They are sometimes beautifully carved and they come in a range of sizes, the smallest I saw were only a few inches long. Also, some ducks have strings tied around the beaks. I was told if one duck has it, it's the female to show that a wife should be quiet and honor her husband (traditionally, anyway!). If both ducks have the string it is meant to show that silence is a virtue. I just thought it was an interesting story to share, learning is never-ending and I personally adore hearing about the little traditions that make the Korean culture so interesting!

Korean Wedding Ducks

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