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N. Korean defectors talk about how Chuseok is celebrated in the North Updated: 2021-09-21 12:39:20 KST

North Korean defector Ha Yul left the North two years ago.
Born and raised in Hamheung City, northeast of Pyeongyang she came to Seoul in December 2019 when she was 25.
She says just like South Korea, North Koreans also gather with families on Chuseok and visit their grandparents' graves.
But added there are some differences in the dishes they make, as they never use Gosari - a traditional Korean dish made with a type of fern - when paying respect to their ancestors.

"We would wake up at about 4AM to make dishes before visiting my grandfather's grave in the mountains. But we would never put Gosari on the table, unlike the South. Instead, sliced radish is a MUST in the North. I think there's some kind of myth that radish scares off ghosts."

She also says unlike South Korea, where Chuseok is a three-day holiday, North Koreans only get to take a single day off.
Another difference is that South Koreans usually travel across the country during the holidays to meet their relatives, whereas in the North, it's difficult to travel because trains have frequent power outages.

"Even if it's a short distance that's supposed to take 6 hours by train in North Korea, it will take 3 or 4 days to get there."

Ryu Hee-jin, another defector from Pyeongyang who came to Seoul 6 years ago also says it's almost impossible to travel outside the city because of strict restrictions.

"You need some kind of 'travel certificate' to travel outside Pyeongyang. Receiving that will take about a month, and you also have to bribe the officials. I heard that you have to go through a long process."

She says on Chuseok, her family usually prepared food that her ancestors enjoyed, especially fruits because some fruits are very valuable in the North.

"Apples and pears are common. But bananas, pineapples and watermelons are fruits that you can only see on Chuseok or on special occasions, like weddings because they're really expensive."

Although celebrated somewhat differently, Chuseok is a heartwarming holiday where people spend times with their families and share traditional food on both sides of the border.
Bae Eun-ji, Arirang News.
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