Happy New Year!!!
After dinner and ice cream with some friends last night, we bundled up and made our way to the Bosingak Belfry (not far from the other NYE festivities at Seoul City Hall) to experience the New Year’s Eve bell-ringing ceremony. We got there around 10:30pm and it was already super crowded! As expected. Police everywhere, people pouring out from the subway station, from every block trying to grab a good viewing spot. I could barely see over people’s heads. We stood in one cramped spot across the street from the Belfry for almost an hour, and then suddenly, police opened up the street and let the crowds flow into the street, closer to the pavilion — which was awesome for us! Because now we were much closer to the action.
A live rock band took the stage around 11:30pm, followed by some traditional/folk dancing and the presentation of the people who had the honor of actually ringing the bell that night. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, of course, so I’m not sure who they were, but I imagine various noteworthy figures from the community.
At exactly 10 seconds ’til midnight, the crowd started counting down in unison, until the first gong! of the bell was heard. Beautiful! Per tradition, they rang the bell 33 times. However, we only heard about 10 of the rings, because then they started playing video on the large screens (man-on-the-street NYE wishes, it seemed like), which drowned out the bell. That was kind of a bummer. You could still see them ringing the bell through the video, though.
I’m bad at estimating crowd sizes, but there had to have been thousands of people there. And, considering the freezing cold temperatures, people were pretty happy and waving to the cameras and just having a good time. It was about 10 degrees out and we were wearing our Underarmour cold gear, which helped a lot, but after two hours outside, our toes were starting to go numb. Totally worth it though! I’m glad we decided to be a part of this special tradition. I leave you with some video and pics below.