Have you heard of Han Style? ‘Han Style’ is a word established by the Seoul Metropolitan government to develop a cultural exchange, with foreigners, through six of Koreas most significant cultural symbols. The six cultural symbols include: Hanguel (Korean alphabet), Hansik (Korean food), hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), Hanok (traditional Korean houses), Hanji (traditional Korean paper) and Hanguk-Eumak (music).
The Korea House has begun a program to introduce foreigners to Korean culture. The program is entitled ‘Han Style.’ On Tuesday July 23 I attended their pilot program. In the program all six cultural symbols are explored through a cooking class, paper craft, dress up and a performance. The total experience lasted three hours.
Hanok- Traditional Korean Houses
Korea house is set near Namsan traditional Korean House Village. It is housed in a traditional Hanok style home. As you walk into the Korea House property you will experience the first cultural symbol Hanok. Hanok is the traditional Korean style home made of clay and a tile roof. The literal translation of the word means ‘where people’s lives are stored.’ The term isn’t simply describing a structure but also a place where a person’s life is kept, their memories and time can be reflected.
Hansik- Korean Food
Once exploring Hanok we began our program with an overview of ‘Han Style.’ The meaning of the phrase was explained as well as a short introduction to Korean Cultur highlighting the six important symbols.
Following this was a cooking class. Each participant was given a hanbok style apron. Groups of three shared a cooking space. A master royal-food chef showed a demonstration of how to make two royal dishes. (Royal -food is the cuisine Korean royalty ate.) On the menu for our class was Seasoned Bamboo shoots with ripe persimmon and Sungchae dumplings. We watched our instructor make each dish and then in our group of three worked together to cook ourselves. Once the dish was finished we were able to try a sample of what we had cooked.
Hanbok- Traditional Korean Clothing
After our cooking class we proceeded into a dressing room where each guest was able to try on traditional Korean Clothing (Hanbok). The hanbok was an assortment of colors and sizes for both men and women. Each group member was able to pick the style they preferred. Once we were dressed we went outside to take photos in front on the Hanok village. We remained in our hanbok for the next activity.
Hanji- Korean Paper & Hanguel- Korean Alphabet
To study Hanguel a calligrapher was brought in to briefly describe the history of the alphabet. He demonstrated how to write Korean letters in both masculine and feminine forms. Once the demonstration was complete we were given calligraphy pens to practice writing Korean Letters. We wrote the alphabet on Korean Paper(Hanji). Our final task in studying Hanguel was to write our names.
Hanguk-Eumak- Korean Music
The final cultural symbol we experienced was music. The last hour we attended a traditional Korean Music and dance performance. Live traditional music was played including drums, horn and string instruments. A beautiful light show enhanced the already stunning dancers performance as they moved through the stage. My favorite performance was the Korean Fan Dance.
If you are interested in an introduction to Korean culture I recommend trying ‘Han Style’ at the Korean House. Although the pilot program felt a little bit rushed, I over all enjoyed my experience and learned more about Korean culture.
For more information about ‘Han Style’ and other programs the Korean house offers visit: http://www.koreahouse.or.kr/eng/?en_skin=index.html
If you would like to learn more about ‘Han Style’ you can visit a website set up by the Seoul Metropolitan Government: http://www.han-style.com/english/