Meeting at the Midpoint(半途相会)
Banbogi (Kor. 반보기) stands for “meeting at the midpoint” and refers to the custom of meeting one’s relatives who live in other villages at the midpoint between the villages. The custom takes place after Chuseok (Kor. 추석, Chin. 秋夕, Harvest Festival, the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month). At this time in traditional farming communities, the pace of life slowed down markedly after a busy farming season. People could finally afford to get together with their family and other relatives. The custom was originally intended as an opportunity for married daughters who moved out of their home communities to meet with their mothers. It subsequently came to refer to all family get-togethers at a midpoint between two villages or towns in the weeks following Chuseok. Depending on the region, this custom is also known by Sino-Korean names including jungno bogi (Kor. 중로보기, Chin. 中路-) or jungno sangbong (Kor. 중로상봉, Chin. 中路相逢).
An old saying, “One’s in-laws’ home and the outhouse are better at a distance, ” reflects the relationship between in-laws in traditional Korea: they seldom visited each other and rarely communicated. Women were not allowed to go outside and spent most of their days inside the house walls. Only during the off-season in farming communities such as the weeks following Chuseok were women given a chance to leave home for short outings. Staying away from home overnight was not considered acceptable for women. Thus meeting one’s relatives who lived in other communities was arranged at the midpoint so that the women could return home the same day.
In anticipation of the banbogi meeting, women usually prepared special delicacies for the picnic with family members whom they had long been missing. In families where in-laws got along well, mothers-in-law sometimes joined their daughters-in-law during this get-together. In some cases, banbogi was organized for several families at the same time.