New Year’s Eve parties in Seoul | December 31
If you’re not planning to rise early and head to the East Sea to catch the first sunrise of 2012, you might as well stay out and celebrate on the Eve (either way, you’ll be spending the first moments of 2012 in close quarters with hundreds of strangers). The ringing of the Bosingak Belfry bell in Jongno is something to witness (but perhaps best experienced from one of the tall buildings surrounding the area due to the human stampede on ground level). Clubs, restaurants and multiplexes across the city are hosting celebrations of varying sizes and specs, and Groove Korea and CNNGo have rounded up some top events to help you party like it’s 2012.
SangSang Gift Fair | Through January 10
Christmas may be over, but endearing Korean gifts—especially the cute, designy ones—will never elude us. Hongdae’s SangSangMadang often features up-and-coming designers and local creative houses, and through January 10, the works of Doo Design Studio, I Hate Monday, Beeeen and DPOT will be on display on the main floor where the design retail shop is located.
Ice Fishing at Pyeongchang Trout Festival | Through February 5
Come winter and come weekends, hoards of Seoulites flock to the slopes of Pyeongchang to shred snow, but if you’re looking for something a little less intense, Pyeongchang has its very own trout fishing festival. It’s the perfect winter sport for those who want to get out, without getting up! VisitKorea.net says: “During the festival, you can enjoy events including ice fishing, catching trout with your bare hands, riding in a snow sleigh, kart racing, and playing winter folk games. Fishing tackle is available for purchase, and there are cooking stations available to prepare any fish you catch.”
Dongjangkun (“Jack Frost”) Festivals opens in Gyeonggi Province | December 31
Want to experience a winter wonderland that’s a little closer to Seoul? The Dongjangkun Festival opens fresh this weekend, chock-full of winter goodies and is only about 90 minutes away from Seoul. In carnival fashion, you can purchase individual access to the plethora of activities on-site including ice fishing, traditional ice sledding and snow sledding. There will also be ice sculptures, food stalls and wintry demonstrations and attractions to enjoy for the entire family. The caveat: there are no English resources to speak of, so you may need the assistance of your go-to Korean translator to plan this trip. Visit the website for more.
Sled riding and ice skating at Sangam World Cup Park | Through mid-February
Both the ice skating rink and sledding slope at Sangam World Cup Park are now open to the public. The ice rink is located at Pyeonghwa Square inside the park and is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (1,000 won admission, 1,000 won skate rental, operating through February 12). The sledding slope in Noeul Park is costlier at 8,000 won and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (runs through February 20). Get to the World Cup Parks by taking metro line 6 to World Cup Stadium station (exit 1). More details and directions here.
Two special exhibitions at the National Folk Museum of Korea | Through February 27
For the 13th consecutive year, the National Folk Museum of Korea continues its annual tradition of honoring the coming year’s Chinese zodiac with a special exhibition. 2012 is the Year of the Dragon (Black Dragon, to be precise—one that comes every 60 years) and the mystical and historical arts, crafts and gems on display at the museum will reflect this auspicious year-long celebration. While you’re at the museum, take a peek at the concurrent shaman exhibition, Mediator Between Heaven and Earth (open through February 27). This otherworldly exhibition brings together traditions surrounding Korea’s mu-dang and shamans from other regions to create a cross-cultural narrative. General museum tours in English available twice a day at 10:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. Call 02) 3704-3129 to book a spot. Museum closed Tuesdays & January 1. Directions here.
Additional reporting by Sejin Yang