Celebrate Lunar New Year with tradition

By 이우영
  • Published : Feb 5, 2016 - 16:10
  • Updated : Feb 5, 2016 - 16:10

The Lunar New Year holiday is a chance for Koreans, expats and tourists to enjoy a variety of traditional Korean activities. The five-day holiday will be full of cultural programs and hands-on experiences, offered at public museums and royal palaces. Here is a guide to various holiday programs in major cities.

Palaces and folk games 
Visitors participate in the kite-making session at the National Folk Museum of Korea in Seoul. (The National Folk Museum of Korea)

Major royal palaces in Seoul, including Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung and Deoksugung palaces, will be open throughout the holiday from Feb. 6-10, offering traditional activities and folk games. Admission to royal palaces is free on Feb. 8.

Visitors to Gyeongbokgung Palace ((02) 3700-3900) will be able to experience the traditional floor heating system “ondol” and perform the formal Lunar New Year greeting to elders, “sebae.” Deoksugung Palace ((02) 752-5366) offers folk games such as the traditional board game “yutnori” and the arrow-throwing “tuho” into a narrow-necked jar. The national museums in Gongju, and Cheongju in South and North Chungcheong Provinces, invite visitors to play folk games and traditional Korean musical instruments used in traditional “samulnori” performances. For more information, visit at the Gongju National Museum, and at the Cheongju National Museum.


For those who wonder how the year 2016 will unfold for them, the National Folk Museum of Korea in Seoul may be the place to learn about their fortune. The museum will host two professional fortune-tellers to read fortunes of visitors from Sunday to Tuesday at the museum lobby. Visitors should present the date and time of their birth to the fortune-tellers for accurate prediction. In the front courtyard, the museum also holds a more casual fortune-telling program in which visitors can test their luck with wooden sticks that are used to play yutnori. One’s fortune can be read from different ways sticks are thrown. For more information, visit

Seollal feast

From Feb. 7-9, Namsan Hanok Village will give out traditional rice cake soup, tteokguk, to visitors three times a day at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2: 30 p.m. for free on its front courtyard. It will also offer a guide to the traditional ancestral ritual “charye” table at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Visitors will also be able to participate in the rice cake-making session from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit

Dance and music performance
Performers play traditional Korean music instruments in the front courtyard of the National Folk Museum of Korea in Seoul. (The National Folk Museum of Korea)

A renowned women-only dance team performs the UNESCO-listed Korean traditional community band music, dance and rituals on Feb. 8 at the National Museum of Korea. The team performed at numerous international events, including the 2012 Yeosu Expo and Totally Thames Festival in London last year, earning a reputation as one of the best traditional dance teams in Korea. For more information, visit

The National Folk Museum also holds various traditional dance and music performances of each province, including Gyeonggi Province’s shamanic ritual ushering in the Lunar New Year, the popular Yangju mask dance, and farmer’s music performances from the Jeolla and Gyeongsang Provinces from Saturday to Tuesday.

By Lee Woo-young  (