A total of 18 members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, including ambassadors, senior diplomats, defence & military attache and their family members from 11 countries of the world, had a rare opportunity to experience the Korean culture, based on the famous novel of Lee Hyo-seok named When the Buckwheat Blossoms Bloom. The ambassadors and the senior diplomats with their spouses visited the Pyeongchang County in a one-day tour and attended the 2019 Pyeongchang Hyoseok Culture Festival in Pyeongchang on Sept. 9, 2019.
The visiting ambassadors and other members of the SDC included Ambassadors Chaim Choshen of Israel, Difie Agyarko Kusi of Ghana, Virgilio Paredes Trapero of Honduras, Wylbur C. Simuusa of Zambia, Abdul Hakim Atarud of Afghanistan, and Ambassador Kemelova Dinara of Kyrgyz Republic. There also were Mrs. Tran Thi Lan Hinh (spouse of the ambassador of Viet Nam) and the madams and children of other senior diplomats, including Col. And Mrs. Mario Gutierrex Martinez of Mexican Army.
Mayor Han Wang-ki of Pyeongchang County, personally accommodated the distinguished members of the SDC and hosted a luncheon at the a traditional Korea restaurant, where he presented each participating excellency with Plaque of Citation in appreciation to their participation in the Buckwheat Festival of 2019. The Plaque of Citation in part read:
“This Citation is presented to the Honoree above mentioned in recognition of the unreserved interest and effort made in the promotion of relations, friendship and cooperation between Korea and the country represented by the recipient by attending the 2019 Pyeongchang Buckwheat Festival on September 9, 2019.
“Attendance at the Festival by the Honoree will greatly contribute to the enhancement of the understanding of the Korean literature and culture by the countries diplomatically represented in Korea.”
Greeting the visiting Ambassadors and other senior diplomats at the luncheon reception, Mayor Han Wang-ki said:
“Let me express my utmost gratitude for your participation and would like to welcome our Excellencies and Madams, distinguished diplomats and Millitary Attache
“Pyeongchang is the host city of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, famous for its four season leisure tourism. I hope this could become a step forward to increased international relationship between Pyeongchang and the different countries of the world.”
In response to the welcoming remarks of Mayor Han, Ambassador Chaim Choshen of Israel representatively stated: “It is our privilege to be able to come here at the Pyongchang Hyoseok Culture Fesitival. As the representing diplomats, it is essential for us to be experiencing the traditional cultures to fully understand the country in relation to a more developed relationship between South Korea and our countries.”
During the festival, various booths featured with the local and traditional goods were on display alongside the roads attracting many visitors domestically and internationally.
The Pyeongchang Hyoseok Cultural Festival features famed novelist Lee Hyo-seok’s novel, “When the Buckwheat Blossoms Bloom” and is a representative festival of the Pyeongchang County. This festival, which is held in September every year when the buckwheat blossoms begin to bloom, many tourists come to see the beautiful buckwheat blossom fields.
The Hyoseok Cultural Festival is held around the Hyoseok Culture Village and it is a festival to enjoy the exhibits at the Lee Hyo-seok Literature Hall of ‘When the Buckwheat Blossoms Bloom’ and the surroundings. The buckwheat blossoms are grown by the town residents, and there are various programs on the theme of literature.
The buckwheat blossom fields surrounding the literature hall is beautiful as if it were covered with white salt.
The Hyoseok Culture Village that is the setting of the novel houses the literature hall and the home of Lee Hyo-seok is visited by many people from all parts of the world as well as from within Korea.
There are various events held during the festival such as poetry contests, night of literature, and literature debates, and there are also a number of other experience-based programs with nature at the buckwheat flower fields. In addition, at the traditional food village, there are various foods using the specialties of Pyeongchang such as potatoes, corn, raw trout, and pyogo mushroom, as well as a wide range of food made with buckwheat.
The buckwheat flower fields at night have a different look. During the festival period, there are events of sending off lighted lanterns at the buckwheat flower fields, and so if you wish to feel the romance of an autumn night, make sure to come experience this festival.
About the novel When Buckwheat Blossoms Bloom:
Mr. Heo, a lonely Jangdolbaengi (vendors who move around the 5-day market mainly in Pyeongchang, Yeonwol and Jecheon area) lost all of his money at gamble and moved to Bongpyeong market place in Pyeongchang with his best buddy, Mr. Cho. They met young Jangdolbaengi guy, Dong-I, over there and decided to move to the other market place together.
While they walked through the buckwheat flower field in the night time, Mr. Heo talked about his lifetime love he had met 20 years ago in Bongpyeong market when he was a young Jangdolbaengi. It was a night that buckwheat blossoms bloomed just like a “scattered salts” on the field. He felt too hot to sleep inside the inn so went out to river bank to take a shower.
He didn’t mind to take off clothes in public before but somehow at that moment he felt not like to do because the moonlight and white buckwheat Blossoms made such a vibe. So he decided to go inside the millhouse to take off the clothes. When he walked into millhouse, he bumped into his lifetime love over there. She, the most beautiful girl in a Bongpyeong town was crying because her family went bankrupt and got to run away from the village.
Next day morning, the girl and her family ran away as expected. Mr. Heo couldn’t forget her so tried to find her here and there many times but couldn’t manage to do. He told 2 people that he has visited Bongpyeong market place for half of his life for this reason.
After that he asked Dong-I about his parents, Dong-I answered his mother’s hometown is Bongpyeong as well and had an unmarried pregnancy of him so was kicked out from family. She married to his step-father but divorced after unhappy marriage life and has been stayed in Jecheon county.
While they crossed the river, Dong-I gave him a piggy-back ride and Mr. Heo spotted Dong-I also is a left-hand user same as he is. (We can sense that they are linked at this part.) After that, Mr. Heo told people that he’ll go to Jecheon county with Dong-I.
Although the novel has been more than 80 years, Heo’s innocent heart and great description of beautiful scenery in Pyeongchang have moved readers throughout the generations and the novel has been entitled of “the best-described” of Autumn.