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Korean Traditional Markets Celebrate the Lunar New Year

2011/02/03 Source

Welcome back.
As we said earlier on in the program Korea is celebrating one of the nation's largest traditional holidays the Lunar New Year holiday or Seollal in Korean.
Seollal is celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar and is time for family members to get together to enjoy traditional food and games.

Although the soaring food prices are becoming a great burden for many nation-wide traditional outdoor markets are doing their best to attract more customers.
With special events and activities including traditional folk games holiday spirit filled the air at many of the markets across the city.
And to tell us more Arirang Today's Kim Hyo-sun joins us in the studio today.
Hi Hyosun.

[Reporter : ] Hello Sean and Conn-young.
Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you, too, Hyosun! Don't you look charming in those hanbok She, sure, does!

[Reporter : ] Thanks, guys. But, your hanbok looks different, Conn-young.

[Reporter : ] To celebrate the Lunar New Year many Korean families must have got together to share traditional food and games.
After carrying out the ancestral ritual known as charye children often wish their
elders happy new year with a deep traditional bow called sebae in Korean.
And just in time for the Lunar New Year holiday traditional markets across Seoul have organized special events to attract customers.
Let's take a look.

Korea's Lunar New Year holiday or 'Seollal' is a time for family gatherings.
Family members who were separated throughout the year in different parts of the nation return to their home towns to enjoy food and games with their parents and relatives.
From 'tteokguk' or rice cake soup to 'jeon' Korean-style pancakes the holiday is full of delicious traditional dishes.
Yet not everyone is in smiles as cost of living is increasing steadily and resulting in a rapid hike in food price.
And to save as much money as they can people are heading to traditional outdoor markets where they can purchase goods in small quantities and also negotiate the price with the vendors.

[Reporter : ] "Thus around this time of the year many outdoor markets exert efforts into attracting customers hoping to loosen some purse strings".

At an outdoor market in Gwangjin District, Seoul a rather unique scene was shown.
A crowd of people dropped their grocery bags to participate in a special rice cake chopping contest.
As rice cakes or 'tteok' are an integral part of the Lunar New Year the market organized the contest just in time for the holiday.

[Interview : ] "We always work hard to boost activities in our traditional market. During holidays like the Lunar New Year, we organize special events annually and give out tteok or grocery bags".

Each with a knife in one hand and a bar of rice cake on a cutting board in front the participants were eager to show off their skills.
In just minutes the baskets in front of these participants were filled with pieces of chopped 'tteok'.
After rounds of speedy competition the organizers appointed the winner based not only on speed but also the qualities of the chopped rice cake.
The winner was delighted to win such title.

[Interview : ] "It is nice to chop our traditional tteok and win the contest. I think that the soup I make with this tteok will be very delicious".

As a big surprise to the customers the market offered free bags of rice cakes.
And the customers lined up for the free gifts which were given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
Those who got a bag in their hands busily step out of the crowd and with smiles on their faces.

[Interview : ] "I'm very thankful for the free tteok. I'm going to cook it and enjoy it".

A market in Jung-gu of central Seoul which is one of the biggest in the city.. also chose to celebrate the holiday with its shop owners and customers with traditional folk games.

[Interview : ] "We have organized jegichaji, tuho, arm wrestling and yut-nori with prizes to provide a chance for the vendors to mingle together, and for customers to enjoy food and the festive atmosphere".

The Lunar New Year holiday spirit filled the air here at the market as people shared great food and stories.
Folk games ranging from tuho to jegichaji garnered much attention.
Participants lined up to play tuho a traditional Korean game in which long and thin sticks are thrown in a narrow container.
They exert their full efforts to throw in as many sticks as possible.
Although some get disappointed as they play the game which is not as easy as it seems others laugh with joy as the sticks they throw make their way to the basket.

[Interview : ] "It feels great. I'm glad to have won the contest so unexpectedly!"

While female participants rolled up their sleeves for the arm wrestling competition male counterparts prepared themselves for jegichagi.
The jegi which looks like a badminton shuttlecock is kicked up in the air and must not fall on the ground.
The players were enthusiastic to show off their skills.

[Interview : ] "I practiced with my child whenever I had time during the past 2 months, and I won all the time. Although I'm not sure about today, I am going to try my best".

Hoping such events can help revive the nation's traditional markets the Seoul Metropolitan Government prepared such events at over seventy sites across the city.

[Interview : ] "Many people are suffering due to the rise in cost of living resulted from the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease and abnormal weather conditions. So the reasonable holiday related goods and the events were prepared hoping to provide a happy Lunar New Year holiday for the citizens".

Although the soaring food prices are becoming increasingly burdensome for many citizens nation-wide holiday festivities are up in the air at some of Seoul's traditional outdoor markets.
From free gifts to traditional folk games the traditional markets offer visitors with a great opportunity to spend one of the country's biggest holidays the Lunar New Year at reasonable prices and surrounded by tradition and excitement.

Aside from shopping the visitors must have found a different enjoyment at the outdoor traditional markets across the city.

[Reporter : ] Yes indeed.
As Seollal is all about good food and fun games they got a chance to enjoy both at the outdoor markets something hard to enjoy at local supermarket chains.

And it looks like the special events celebrating the Lunar New Year holiday have contributed to reviving the markets which have seen a rapid decline of customers.

[Reporter : ] That's right.
Due to the increasing food price as well as an increase in the number of supermarket chains outdoor markets have seen a decline in customers.
And I hope that traditional markets will become more crowded this year leaving both the vendors and customers in smile.

Well, thank you for your report today.

[Reporter : ] It's my pleasure.

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