Living in Andong
Andong is known as the “Capital City of Korean Spiritual Culture,” but tell a Korean friend that you’ll be living there and they’re likely response will be something like “small town, so country!” Size is relative, though, in Korea Andong is considered to be a small town, but with a population nearing 200,000 not everyone may agree. While it is a small(er) town have no fear, there is still plenty to do and see and no you won’t be the only foreigner living in Andong.
History and Nature
Probably the biggest advantage of living in Andong for many teachers in Korea is its history and nature. Andong is famous for folk culture; home to both a folk museum and the annual Andong Mask Dance festival (in October). One of the most notable attractions is the Hahoe Folk Village, located just outside the city. The village brings many visitors to the city (both foreign and Korea) and is definitely worth a visit. Another highlight is Dosanseowon, a Confucian school in the mountains, fun fact–it’s the image on the back of the 1000 won.
Being located in the ‘country’ provides for a beautiful backdrop no matter where you are. Andong is situated along the Nakdong river which is an awesome place to be. Aside from the walking/running and biking lanes there are also soccer fields, a gateball court, and various exercise machines. If you follow the river north you’ll eventually come to Woryeonggyo Bridge, a beautiful place to visit especially at night when it’s lit up. Further yet down the river lies Andong damn, another tourist attraction and beautiful viewpoint.
Although you want to surpass the ‘tourist’ status in your new town, each of these attractions is worth a visit. Learning about the culture, history, and natural beauty of this city will help you appreciate it and (hopefully) make you feel more at home.
If there is one thing Andong does right it’s jjimdak! Famous throughout the country, this dish is a hit with almost everyone. It translates roughly as ‘Korean braised chicken” but that name does little justice. If you can’t handle spice, watch out; Jjimdak is a blend chicken, veggies and cellophane noodles, cooked slowing in a soy based sauce, a perfect blend of sweet and spicy. There’s even a jjimdak street in the traditional market downtown and as you walk through vendors will try to pull you in to their shop promising theirs is more delicious than the next. There’s really no way to tell though, so the best method is to try them all! Aside from jjimdalk, Andong is also known for it’s own brew of soju (stronger than the rest) and salted mackerel (geodeung-eo). If you wind up in Andong you will not go hungry, delicious food is a plenty here.
After adjusting to a new city and life, checking out some of the ‘must see’ attractions, and eating all the delicious food, you’ll probably want to create a normal life. Luckily Andong is easy to navigate. It has three main areas: downtown, ok-dong and yongsang-dong (university area). The main landmarks of downtown are the train station and homeplus, surrounded by various shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. Ok-dong is a common venture on the weekends, filled with bars and restaurants; it is busy almost every night of the week. Last in Yongsan-dong, located across the river and close to Andong University, a neighborhood filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, and a surprisingly high number of foreigners most of whom work at the university. Getting around is easy with the bus network; a few lines (1 and 2) run from the University to the Bus terminal (a bit outside the city to the west) and will stop along the previously mentioned areas.
The final piece of the puzzle is building a life in Andong, which shouldn’t be too hard. If you’re looking for foreign friends, Facebook is probably your best resource. Facebook has both an “Andong” group for expats, and the “Andong Volunteers Association” for those looking to get involved in the community. Aside from connecting online it’s possible to meet people out and about in the city. Weekends in Ok-dong (at Indis bar) are one option, while spending time along the river, at the soccer fields, or shopping downtown are all viable ways to meet others living in Andong.
Living in Andong: Final Thoughts
Despite being a smaller city it’s not too hard to find something to do here. If you do find yourself growing bored of your surroundings though, weekend trips and adventures outside the city are an excellent idea. The transportation system in Korea is impressive and cheap, so taking a weekend to explore is easy to do without causing too much strain on your wallet.
Stephanie is a storyteller, yoga enthusiast, and wandering soul who recently settled in for her second round of teaching in Korea. After her first stay in Korea, teaching in the EPIK program in Korea, Stephanie spent nearly two years traveling, exploring the world, making new friends, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. If you want to read about her travels, teaching tales or just learn more, check her out here: www.yogifootprints.weebly.com