Korea has made many efforts to keep alive its pastoral traditions in the face of rapid economic growth; one particularly interesting example is its preserved folk villages. While some exist purely for show, others are functioning communities where life dawdles on at an intentionally slow pace, the residents surviving on a curious mix of home-grown vegetables, government subsidy and tourist-generated income. Hahoe Folk Village (하회 마을) is one of the best and most popular in the country, a charming mesh of over a hundred traditional countryside houses nestling in the gentle embrace of an idle river. This charming mix of mud walls, thatched roofs and dusty trails is no mere tourist construct, but a village with a history stretching back centuries, and you’ll be able to eat up at least a couple of hours exploring the paths, inspecting the buildings and relaxing by the river. The village’s past is told on information boards outside the most important structures – seek out the Yangjin residence, for example, the oldest in the village, and built in a blend of Goryeo- and Joseon-era styles. The village can sometimes get a little busy with visitors, but it’s easy to escape and find space – try the riverside at the far end of the village, past the church.
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