Korean culture is quite famous for its quirky K-Pop, K- Drama and K-Beauty but Korea has much more to offer. Entrenched in traditions and ancient principles, Korea is profoundly influenced by Confucian principles. This principle influences not only personal lives, but also business ethics. Confucianism supports the importance of family, friends and ancestors, group harmony, respect for elders, authority and traditions.
Below are few cultural events in Korea that hold great importance for Koreans and mark their cultural and sentimental values-
- Calligraphy and Painting:
Calligraphy and Painting are one of the most respected art forms in Korea. As in China and Japan, brush painting with ink is also quite popular and holds significance value. Calligraphy was once considered as a practice of nobility but now it is a common hobby and used by people from all walks of life. There are also quite popular themes of paintings and that includes the four “noble” plants (bamboo, orchid, chrysanthemum, and cherry blossom), animals (mostly tigers and cranes), and mist shrouded mountain settings.
- Music and Dance:
The expression for Korea’s rich cultural heritage is in its varied music and dance. There are various performing art centers in Seoul and the performances can also be viewed at fold villages and South Korean festivals. Traditional music can be classified as court or folk music. While Court music is slow and solemn, folk music is a bit of emotional and lively. Traditional dance are likewise divided into three categories: court, folk, and religious, with religious dances being incorporated into religious ceremonies and rites. If you want to have a deeper look at Korean culture music then P’ansori is must. It is a narrative folk story describing a long and dramatic story. Cultural dances that will prove to be a visual treat are- Samulnori (farmers’ dance), Sandaenori (mask dance), Madangnori, Fan Dance and Drum Dance.
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that emphasizes on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques. This sport is the cultural spotlight of Korea. The worldwide popularity of Taekwondo has propelled it to be an official sport in the Olympics. Taekwondo is derived from taekkyon, which is also an ancient martial art.
- Kite Flying:
Kite flying is one of the activities that Koreans like to enjoy. The traditional Korean kite (yon) is made up of bamboo sticks and Korean paper. Not only children but also elder people enjoy flying kites, especially on major holidays such as Ch’usok and the Lunar New Year and on other special events in Korea.
- Ssirum (Korean wrestling):
Korean wrestling or Ssirum is similar to Japanese sumo wrestling. In this cultural activity two opponents try to wrestle with each other in a sandy ring. The one who throws his opponent to the ground wins a point and ultimately the one with more points wins the game. There are annual competitions of wrestling that attracts many spectators.
Chuseok is one of the biggest harvest festivals of South Korea that usually coincides with the autumn equinox. It is known as Korean Thanksgiving Day and is celebrated for a season of bountiful harvests. Aside from thanksgiving, Chuseok is also a time for family reunions. On the morning of Chuseok, families wear their traditional attire (hanbok) and pay respect to their ancestors, after which they gather for a feast. Korean rice cakes, Korean pancakes, and Korean pears are few staples for South Korean festivals such as Chuseok.
Seollal is another Korea’s most important holidays as it is the Korean New Year. Seollal is celebrated as Korean culture festival and Koreans pay respects to their ancestors and spend time with their families. Special hanboks are worn on Seollal which are brighter and more colorful. The Korean food served during the New Year feast poses a great cultural significance. Enjoying a bowl of tteokguk, a traditional soup made with sliced rice cakes and other ingredients, on Seollal a year is added to your age.
There is much more to Korean culture and its rich heritage. The devotion and respect of Koreans towards their ancestors and traditions cannot be merely summarised in words.