This is the story of how I spent chuseok. My host family and I traveled north to paju, about 40 minutes outside of Seoul. We stayed at my host dad's parents house. We arrived late on Friday night and spent some time with his parents talking and watching tv. Around 1, I think I was yawning enough that they finally asked if I would like to go to bed. I kindly accepted haha. Saturday was spent cooking food and hanging out with the family. I was able to help make 전 and 성변. 전, chon, it fried fish? I think? I'm not exactly sure but I got to help make it. 성변, is a traditional rice cake that Koreans eat during chuseok. Chuseok is like Americans version of thanksgiving. There is a lot of food and you spend time with family. The major difference is that Koreans also honor their dead ancestors on this day. They set up a table of food and bow to their deceased ancestors.
After helping cook food, my host dad, host sisters and I went to Ilsan lake park. There is a big path around a lake, with playgrounds basketball courts and places to eat and relax. The park was so beautiful! We rented bikes and biked around the lake. It was probably one of the most enjoyable days I have had in Korea so far.
Sunday was chuseok. We got up early and went to a family members house. All the children were sent to a separate room and I joined them. I hung out in there for a while. Then my host dads cousin arrived, she came and sat with me. Her English was very good and we were able to talk for a while. We ate breakfast, then almost immediately after finishing we left. We went to another relatives house and did the same thing, and then another relatives house. So there was lots of eating and bowing.
After visiting several relatives houses we went to my host dads grandparents graves. Graves in Korea are different than those in the United States. I am not sure whether the deceased are buried in caskets or not, but their bodies are buried above ground instead of below. Many times the graves are on a hillside and there is a dug out section for the grave with a mound in the middle, where the body is buried. Graves are also not necessarily in a grave yard. The graves we visited seemed like they were randomly placed in people's backyards.
We finally made our way home and were able to rest for a few hours before traveling home to Cheongju.