Black Expats Guide to the Andong Mask Dance Festival

One of the best things about living abroad for sure is being able to participate in a festival. Its one of those rare moments in life that a person can say if asked yeah I was there and it was amazing. No matter where you are in the world, everyone can get excited for a festival. There’s something amazing about walking around, seeing the various venues and mini shops around. Observing people and how they are enjoying themselves. Or trying some amazing local food. As the 2019 Andong Mask Dance Festival has ended for the year, I can say I’ve enjoyed myself and it’s something I could come back to next year. This is a festival that anyone and everyone should come check out at some point in their lives. As one of the few persons of color at the festival, I obviously stood out from the crowd. But that never stopped me from having a good time. But to any black travelers to Korea(or any readers on the site) here are various activities you or your family and friends could do at the next festival.

Watch a mask dance

Personally I’m not into the arts or can’t dance to save my life. However I will admit it’s interesting to see how a story can be told through the art of dance. The festival had various performances from traditional Korean dancers to singers and dancers from other countries. Near Hahoe Village there was also a dance number telling a story about butchering a bull or something. Or the story of an old lady, which was in the title by the way.

Don’t worry, it’s water……. hopefully

Create a mask

With the theme of the festival being masks, it’s obvious that a person would be able to make a mask. Or if you wanted to, you could buy one at various stalls. If you are the creative type then this would probably be the best part of the festival. Just head to a tent pick up a blank mask with different shapes and styles. And then go to town with the decorations! While your there walk around with your custom mask and show it off to the people. I did have my old plague doctor mask from 2017 Halloween but didn’t wear it due to the heat.

Devour so much food!

When it comes to festivals, I always look forward to sampling the food. So much so I make sure to come hungry and ready to dine on something amazing and cheap to eat. And man Andong did not disappoint!! It was a blast to walk to the next food venue to see what they had to offer. There were the typical chicken on a stick, which can be found anywhere. But at least there was a sauce you can choose from to try and what you prefer. As always, the Turkish guys were out there hustling with their kebabs and wraps, which were great. But I would have to say the best thing at the festival was the bbq pig. While it was the most expensive thing I ate at 30,000W(about $30) the meat had so much juice with every bite. Not to mention how it was so tender the meat could be picked from the bone with chopsticks.

The plate itself was colorful with the garlic, bean paste and some spicy chili with sweet yellow onions to complement the pig.

Explore Hahoe Village

Walking around the UNESCO village of Haheo was a fun experience. Being out in the rural side of Korea, with the sun coming down and my dark skin absorbing its power and learning about the history of this small village was fun. This 600 year old village with Korean style homes call hanoks are still around today. And there are locals who are still living in those homes. If you’re a history fiend or enjoy viewing UNESCO World Heritage sites, I highly recommend you go check out the village. After you’ve had a chance to see the homes and explore the fields, you should stay to watch the Korean traditional fireworks. But I’ll explain more in the next point. If you plan on going, especially in the summer, bring some strong bug spray!

Observe Korean Traditional Fireworks

I’ll admit I was expecting your typical fireworks. With loud rockets flying into the sky and exploding into beautiful colors. You won’t get that there. Near Hahoe is Nakdong River where the fireworks were shown. Unlike the fireworks many of us are used to, Korean fireworks tend to light up a paper and hang it on a rope. While it was a beautiful sight to behold, I was kind of hoping to have a firework encore(which didn’t happen this year). Across the river at the top of the hill, the workers lit what looks to be hay and threw off the cliff. While it was cool to be part of the moment, I was ready to go, mainly due to all the mosquitoes buzzing around. Overall the Andong Mask Dance Festival was a sight to behold, I’m glad to have come out and look forward to the next one for sure!

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