Learn Something New: 13 Short Classes To Take When In Korea

At this age where there is so much pressure to include so many things in an itinerary if only for the sake of the gram, we tend to forget to take pause and enjoy a place or experience, and really understand their significance. Sometimes, we say that we have experienced something just by doing a selfie or spending an hour of photo shoot at a certain place, but is that really what is meant by experiencing that place?

We have different purposes for traveling and even different takes on how we should design our itineraries but I think we have a common goal as to why we travel. We travel because we want to learn something new. Every time we travel, we try as much as possible to immerse ourselves in local culture because that’s how we learn more about the place, its people, its history.

One of the popular ways to really get to learn more about a certain place is through food which is why market tours and cooking classes are very popular especially in Korea. But did you know that you can learn more than just the food culture of Korea because there are so many other lessons that you can take aside from cooking classes? I’ll write something about cooking classes later because that deserves a separate post. Here, what I’ll share with you are classes where you can learn Korean calligraphy, how to make perfumes, how to dance like a K-pop star, how to make custom rings, bookmarks or stamps, and many more.

Exciting, right? So read on!

#1 Make your own custom ring in Hongdae

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Making your own custom ring is a popular trend especially for the stylish people of Korea. It was popularized by Gain and Jo Kwon who made their own matching rings on the reality TV show “We Got Married.” In Hongdae, you can make your custom rings from fine silver which you may upgrade with gold plating, laser engraving, or the addition of precious gems.

#2 Make a bookmark and greeting card using traditional gold leaf imprints

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This is a special chance to experience the gold leaf gilding applications at “Kumbakyeon,” a 5th generation traditional gold leaf workshop center owned by royal gold leaf gilders. Gold has always been a symbol of beauty and authority and while generally in Europe, China or Japan, the gilding technique is used for architecture, in Korea, they use the gilding process on silk.  This exclusive class will let you make your own bookmark and greeting card using the traditional Korean gold leaf gilding technique which was used since the Joseon dynasty.

#3 Create your own handkerchief or scarf using traditional natural dye

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The traditional Korean natural dyes are plant dyes from roots, berries, barks, leaves and wood.  Indigo dyeing in Korea dates back to around 57 B.C.  By the time of the Goryeo period, the government recognized the importance of dyeing and public factories were set up to produce dyed fabric for commercial sale. In this unique class, you’ll be given the chance to make your own deep blue handkerchief or scarf using the Korean traditional natural dyeing technique called “Jjok” in Korean.

#4 Make a one of a kind souvenir from Korean traditional paper “Hanji”

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Do you know that my favorite World of Warcraft toon is this draenei priest that I named Hanjieun? I got the name from my favorite Korean actress Song Hye Kyo who played Han Ji Eun in Full House. Anyway, that name was coined from the word “Hanji” which is a strong, fibrous paper made from the inner bark of the mulberry tree and the root of hibiscus. With the use of Hanji and traditional crafting techniques handed down from generation to generation, craft designers are able to create beautiful textures. In this class, learn to make different lamp designs or a jewelry box made from Hanji with the help of a master craftswoman. This is a real travel experience that anyone should try.

#5 Make your own ceramic toy in Hongdae

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Mustoy is a white character-shaped toy  made of porcelain with a simple design. In this class, you can learn how to paint your own Mustoy and create characters without any limitation and purely out of your own creativity.  The price of the class also includes an Americano or juice so it’s a perfect way to kill time as you rest your tired feet from all that walking.

#6 Make Traditional Knot Ornament in Bukchon Hanok Village

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Traditional Korean knots have been used to decorate traditional attire and ritual objects  throughout Korean history. In this workshop, you can learn about the basics of this sophisticated artwork and see many different types of colorful knot ornaments. You can make your own knot chain, bracelet, or necklace. And the best part is that you get to enjoy this experience while you are in Bukchon Hanok Village.

#7 Learn traditional Korean calligraphy in Insadong

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In this 2-hour class, you can learn traditional Korean calligraphy. You’ll learn the basics of how to prepare the ink, brush and paper. Then, you’ll learn how to carefully move the brush to write beautifully. You get to take home your finished product and after the class, you’ll have ample time to explore the rest of Insadong.

#8 Pottery Class in Hongdae

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If you’re like me who always wanted to try pottery, then this quick class is for you. This is perfect for first-timers because in this class, you’ll learn the fundamentals of clay pottery.  You can make either a mug or a plate. Take note though that you can only pick up your finished product 2 wees after the class. I’m not sure if you can have them ship it to your country but there’s no harm in asking.

#9 Stamp-making in Insadong

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You probably have seen in several K-dramas or when you walked along Insadong that there are little stamps with engraving that Koreans use for signing documents. Actually, they still use stamps until today.  In this 40-minute class, you’ll be able to make your own stamp that you can use when you decorate greeting cards or sign letters. The instructor will guide you through engraving your own seal. It’s a great souvenir for you to keep or bring home to family and friends.

#10 Make traditional mother-of-pearl lacquerware crafts

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Mother of pearl is a shiny material found in sea shells like abalone or oysters and they’re used in Korea to decorate furniture or household ornaments.  In this class, you’ll be able to see elaborate patterns using mother of pearl and you’ll also get a hands-on experience to decorating your own souvenir. Choose from a bracelet, brooch, a spoon and chopstick set, pencil holder or a pencil box. Whatever you choose, for sure, it’s going to be a great memory of your travel to Korea.

#11 Learn basic Korean expressions for traveling

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There is a 3-hour class that will teach you the basic Korean words to say during your stay. Through small group lessons, you’ll get to learn how to say Korean greetings, ask for a location, talk about food and taste expressions, ask prices, count numbers, and basically say the essentials needed for your travel and shopping. The lesson depends on the student’s fluency so don’t be scared to join the class even if you have zero-knowledge of Korean language. What’s even better is that you get to wear a Hanbok, the Korean traditional clothing, so that you can have a photo souvenir after class.

#12 Dance like a K-pop star

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Even if you don’t know how to dance, don’t let this phrase “dance like a K-pop star” intimidate you!  This is a 2-hour K-pop dance class where the instructor will teach you the moves one step at a time. Depending on your skill, you can actually learn from 1-2 songs from Big Bang, EXO, f(x), SHINee, etc. My favorite (and I think I will enroll in this class even if I’m already 40 because I like the steps so much) is Beast’s Friction. This is going to be loads of fun especially if you’re in Korea in a group and all of you are into K-pop!

#13 Make your own perfume

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Have you ever thought of making your very own perfume to represent your true character? In this 2-hour class where a kid as young as 7 years old can participate in, you get to mix and match from 150 different fragrance bases and 20 natural bases in creating your own perfume. What’s good is that there are two branches that you can visit to make your own scent. It can be in Itaewon or in Myeongdong. I plan to make one when I visit this year.

That’s a lot of class options for you to choose from. Stay tuned and I will soon share my favorite Korean cooking classes as well as where you can learn soap making, and candle and diffuser making. Until then, Annyeong!

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