Since I first came to Korea, I’ve never missed a “Hi Seoul” Festival! Even when I was on the last month of my pregnancy last year, I made it a point to join in the festivities. This year is no exception.
The festival started on the 27th of April, while I was on my 4-week long vacation in my beloved hometown (Angeles City), and ended on May 6th. The theme of for this year’s “Hi Seoul” is “Miracle Seoul,” which is about uniting the traditions of the country with its future (according to the website). On the last day of the celebrations, my family and I troop to Jongro (an avenue in downtown Seoul) where the Seoul History Parade is held. We arrived at Jongro3-ga subway station at about 5 minutes before the parade passed by.
The parade started with the heroes of Korea. Costumed men on their horses represented Yeongaesomun of Goguryeo, Kim Yushin of Silla and Gyeoibaek of Baekje from the Three Kingdoms. Also represented were Jang Bogo of Unified Silla, Wanggeon of Goryeo, and Admiral Lee Sunshin of the Chosun Dynasty.
The military bands and honor guards participated with their synchronized gun handling exhibition (or whatever it may be called). Of course, what is a Korean festivities without the traditional music?! I just love listening (and grooving) to the sound of the traditional instruments! Another group of participant that attracted my attention is the “UCC Stars”. UCC stands for user-created content and it is as popular in Korea as in the rest of the world. These UCC stars were mostly teens and they were offering “Free Hugs”. There were some takers but I think most were just amused.
A surprise feature of the parade was the group of belly dancers. They really attracted a lot of attention from men and women alike. Not a few spectators followed them until the parade ended at Deoksugung Palace (in front of the City Hall). The cameras (almost) never ceased to flash for the posing dancers.
My family had a great time that afternoon. We walked along the Cheonggyecheon (the reconstructed stream in Seoul which was featured on Discovery Channel several months ago) on the way back to our apartment.