Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blog 11 - April 12

This week I attended a YEOL lecture at the Korean Museum of History. YÉOL' is derived from Chinese characters meaning a 'desire to preserve our long and illustrious heritage' and is a not for profit organisation dedicated to helping disseminate Korean culture, art and history. The topic this month was 'The Korean Way of Tea'. Tea was introduced to Korea in 780 AD with Buddhism and is intended as a type of meditation, to be taken alone and with a certain amount of ceremony. The demonstration was beautiful, however not very practical in the hurly burly of everyday living, but a wonderful reminder to take time over a pot of tea. Tea with rice cakes, which are glutinous and not very flavoursome, were also served. Here is the link

After visiting the Korean Design Museum, I went wandering around Hongdae, a university nightclub area that looked a bit sad and grey during the day. This glorious magnolia juxtaposed in an interesting way with the Korean nightclub and delivery of supplies for the night.

Our Korean language class ended with a trip to learn drumming at The National Centre for Korean Traditional Performing Arts. This photo captures exactly the passion, humour and fun of the teacher. He only spoke Korean - that was part of our lesson! Some people came from more advanced classes, however, I had no idea what he was saying. We got the general idea as did Hirose, my Japanese classmate, pictured in the corner.

Damien also got into the spirit. The Korean teachers were very keen to meet him as a professor is most esteemed in this culture. A professor from the Seoul National University is even more eminent as it is the most prestigious university. Status is extremely important here as is age, so Damien is respected on many levels! In terms of the expat population, it is a different story, however. Business and corporations are also highly valued and the fact that Damien is a public servant seems weird to many foreigners. When I tell people where we live, no expat has ever heard of Gwanak Gu. On the other hand, all the locals know where it is. So we mix with a diversity of people - some expats who have a house with a garden, their own driver, maid and private Korean tuition lessons and others who are locals and keen for us to experience the best their country has to offer and in particular are keen to know how we like kimchi!

The Korean equivalent to buskers is salespeople touting their wares in the subway. I've seen cough mixtures, elastic corsets and back supports, plastic non slip inner soles and today a man selling Korean CDs which was pretty entertaining. Never a dull moment!

This life of leisure is about to end as I begin working as an organisational development consultant with Adaptable Human Solutions. I'm really looking forward to this next part of my journey here and hope to see a different view of Korea. The website is Stay posted for updates on Korean business culture.

1 comment:

Monika N said...

I love the yellow hats! Beautiful countryside and spring weather.

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