Thanksgiving undergoes changes in South Korea amid COVID
November 30, 2020

Thanksgiving undergoes changes in South Korea amid COVID

SEOUL (SOUTH KOREA) – South Koreans will let go of some of their most cherished traditions during their celebrations of their thanksgiving holiday of Chuseok this week. because of restrictions the coronavirus has imposed upon them. This time they might be forced to conduct virtual services instead of visiting their ancestral sites.

Authorities have urged people to restrict themselves from travel and follow social-distancing guidelines during the five-day break starting on Wednesday, in spite of slow rate of new COVID-19 cases.

Lee Yong-su, 34, whose ancestors were the founders of Korea’s last ruling dynasty of Joseon, said this time he would not be making the customary visit to his parents, Instead, he prefers staying home with his pregnant wife and six-year-old son.

Lee told, “My father said we can honour our ancestors from the heart, sharing a news article about how other famous families would skip this year’s service in bad years.”

Lee Chi-eok, the 17th-generation son of Lee Hwang, has been of the profound Korean Confucian scholars from Joseon. He said some of the old traditions were slowly diminishing, surprisingly even before the novel coronavirus hit, due to trends such as urbanisation and lower birth rates.

Unlike every year, this time, because of COVID guidelines, his family would not be performing dozens of rites, which involves complex rules regarding how to prepare and place food offerings.

Lee, a research fellow at the Academy of Korean Studies, said, “Those rituals were a formal yet welcoming party in slow agricultural communities, where people gather and enjoy good food, but the current fast-paced society can’t afford it.”

Lee Hwang, he added, also “taught against red tape, and I think the traditions should keep up with times”.

On the other hand, more than 230,000 people are expected to visit the resort island of Jeju this week, when compared to 190,000 last year, according to local authorities. Full bookings have been made in many golf courses and beach resorts along the east coast.

Ko Dong-hee, a 35-year-old housewife, said, “Many of my friends were planning a trip instead of visiting their parents. I’m still going to visit my in-laws, which isn’t my choice but at least they’re holding simplified ancestral rites.”

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