Andong is the largest city in the northern part of Gyeongsangbuk-do. Although it had been growing rapidly since the 1970s, like the rest of the country, it has recently seen a decline in population as thousands of people moved to Seoul and other cities in search of higher education and better jobs. Still, Andong has been known as the cultural and folk center of the region since the Shilla Dynasty. During the Joseon Dynasty, the town attracted many Confucian scholars since it had the largest number of Confucian schools in the country. Even today, there are dozens of private Confucian schools that were established during those years.
The city gained international fame when Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 73rd birthday here in 1999. In preparation for her visit, the city government improved the roads and even expanded the highway that runs through it (road 34) to two lanes in both directions. East of the city center, the 600-year-old Folk Village (Hahoe Maeul) is Andong's biggest draw. Although the residents now have modern amenities (like electricity and phones), it is still a wonderful trip back in time to South Korea's not-so-distant rural past. Unlike other villages that date back to the Goryeo period, both common folk and the yangban (upper class) lived in the same village.
Every October, the Andong Folk Festival draws thousands of visitors to see performances, including the Andong Mask Dance Festival in the traditional Hahoe Maeul.