Teach Abroad - South Korea, Teach Abroad Programs

My First Experience with Chuseok, a Korean Thanksgiving

By Gracie D., Greenheart Travel English Teacher in South Korea

This year Chuseok was on September 30th, and I went to Seoraksan with my fellow expat Ramsey from October 1-3. To get to Seoraksan we took the bus from Sincheorwon to Seoul and then from Seoul to Sokcho. On the return trip home we stayed in Seoul because we had tickets to see the Australian cast performing Wicked. We then ate Indian food in Itaewon, which is the skeezy foreigner part of Seoul. Anything that doesn’t fit in with the rest of Seoul (gays, Muslims, tattoo parlors,KFC) can be found in Itaewon. It is also the best place to get groped, gawked at, or see a bar fight in broad daylight (2 of the 3 I’ve already experienced).

This past Sunday was Chuseok, and Koreans call it the Korean Thanksgiving. Depending on what day the moon is full after most of the harvesting is done, Koreans have dinner with their immediate family and will perform chare, which is a ceremonial offering to their ancestors. My co-teacher invited me over for dinner at her house, which is a huge honor because normally people don’t have their friends over for Chuseok. Chuseok is different from Thanksgiving, where everyone in the family comes over… it’s usually only siblings and parents. People will go visit their grandparents, but none of my students actually ate a meal or did chare with their grandparents.

So, my co-teacher invited me over and it was a huge honor. Her family is Catholic so they do not perform any ancestor offering or bow to any alters. She and her mother made a huge dinner early in the afternoon and we ate when her father came home from church. She made fish soup, rice, kimchi, songpyeon, bulgogi, kalbi, and some sort of pickled root.

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