In S. Korea, Chuseok holiday means lots of food ... and traffic gridlock
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Sookk-young Rinke considers herself lucky. She’ll enjoy the Chuseok holiday with her family in South Korea this year but won’t have to cook much.
Rinke, who grew up in South Korea, now lives in Seoul with her husband, Maj. Matthew C. Rinke, and their daughters, Rebecca, 5, and Sara, 4. They’ll travel to Ulsan on Sunday — where, as custom dictates, it will be her sister-in-law preparing the holiday dishes.
“My brother’s wife, she will do the cooking,” Rinke said.
Daughters-in-law have the responsibility of making the beef and chicken dishes, rice cakes, fruits and other traditional dishes to honor the family’s ancestors during the three-day harvest holiday that begins Saturday.
But on Thursday, Rinke was among the many parents in Rosalind Rutledge’s first-grade classroom at Seoul American Elementary School who cooked traditional Chuseok dishes for a potluck lunch with their children.
Some students, including Rebecca and Sara, wore traditional Hanbok costumes while sharing chop chae (clear noodles with meat and vegetables), bulgogi (stewed beef over rice), kimbap (rice rolls stuffed with ham and radish) and songpyeon (chewy rice cakes stuffed with ground sesame, beans or chestnuts).
Maj. Newton Hill, who works in the Legal Office at Yongsan, came to eat lunch with his daughter, Allison. His family will travel to Allison’s grandmother’s home on Sunday, the day of Chuseok, when each family honors its ancestors.
Hill said the trip normally takes about an hour but because millions of Koreans will be traveling on Sunday, he expects a much longer journey.
“We’re going to take public transportation and cross our fingers,” he said.
The South Korean government estimates families will make more than 64 million trips around the country this weekend, including round-trips and visits to more than one branch of their families.
Many people will begin traveling on Friday and return home Monday or Tuesday, according to Gil Yong-beum of the Ministry of Construction and Transportation’s general traffic planning department.
Because of the crowded roads, a trip from Seoul to Busan — 275 miles — will take about nine hours, he said, adding that bus and subway service also will be extended until 2 a.m. on Monday.
Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.