Saturday after lunch we headed off to the Yongsang Electronics Mart and I-park Mall for some shopping. I got my audio recorder and found a lovely Orange top marked down to a mere 10,000 wan. Wow! Alice was able to use her cute foot stomp and “that’s too much… Can you give me a better price?!” routine on my behalf and this lowered the price by $5,000 wan. Then, we had such fun looking at clothes and I found a lovely top for a mere $10,000 wan.. It was a steal! Then road back to the neighbourhood around Seoul Women’s college. The highlight of the trip was stopping for ice flake with our new friends.
I am still vibrating with happiness today. The beat of the drum and the music resonates right to the bone when you hold and beat the drum, hard and right in the sweet spot. The student club who practice traditional music preformed for us and then taught us each how to hold and beat the drum. We we learned one basic traditional rhythm and then also got to dance and drum on the grass in the warm summer sun. In the evening we went to see Nanata. Words cannot describe the music that resonates deep within one’s chest as we got to watch, listen and feel the music at the Nanta theatre. The artistry, and talent are undeniable and the comedic timing and facial expressions were priceless. Audience involvement was so much fun to watch and take part in. What a most excellent day. I fell into bed completely exhausted and happy. What a great day! Today I am enjoying a lazy Saturday morning before an afternoon of shopping fun in down town Seoul with the girls (my roomies and the BIP girl staff). Can’t wait!!
Here is a link to the show cookin’ Nanta.
Today we visited the potter. Today I became a potter…. hahahah! Okay, I did put my hands on the clay, but it was the master’s touch that allowed me to produce anything of beauty. The feeling of the clay beneath my hands was cool and smooth. I wonder if I could every master such a craft? The first part of the process, of being able to just mold the lump of clay into something useable, takes at least three months to perfect. We each were able to take turns, with the help of a master potter, to turn the lump of clay on the wheel into a beautiful pot, vase, cup or bowl. The creative and artistic ability of the students was apparent when viewing all the finished pots, which we, the students were encouraged to use when decorating our own pot.
Today we visited Gyeongbokgung palace, a place of incredible beauty and symbol of national sovereignty. It was the main and largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty. We travelled by subway to get there! It was fun to see the palace of the king who was responsible for developing Hangeul, the official writing system of North and South Korea.
There were 14 impressive buildings to view and we had a fabulous tour guide to explain to us the meaning and the significance of what we were seeing. It was so cool to meet someone who was proud of her history and could share that she was 22nd generation decended from the brother of King Segong! Did you also know that after King Segong created Hungeul he wrote poetry and also sponsored publishing projects of Buddhist scripture? This was a good way to make sure the writing system was put to use! Although King Segong was responsible for this most important event in the history of Korean language, he still used classical Chinese to keep the royal records of the day! I suppose that is why hungeul was considered to be the language of women, children and poets and not for scholarship, intellectual writings and important legal documents.
Gyeongbokgung Palace was burnt to the ground during
the Japanese invasion, but in 1989 the South Korean government started a 40 year intitiative to rebuild the structures that were destroyed by the Colonial Government of the Empire of Japan.
Dr. Yoon Yeosang, Director of North Korean Human Rights Archive (NGO) gave us a lecture entitled “Recent Changes in North Korean Society”. We learned that South Korea is in essence an island because it is not possible to travel through North Korea to reach China and beyond. The history of how Korea became divided into two separate societies was explained and human rights violations in North Korea were highlighted and discussed. Here is the powerpoint of the lecture saved as a PDF: Recent Changes In North Korean Society.
The most striking metaphore in the lecture was the satelite image showing the nighttime darkness in North Korea.
To read about life in a North Korean prisoner of war camp, find the popular book “Escape From Camp 14″available on Amazon. Here is a Youtube video of an interview with Shin Dong Hyuk, the escapee from camp 14. You can also check out this website for furthe information: The Database for North Korean Human Rights.
Discovery Magazine article – “The Two Koreas – Like Night and Day” explains the difference in the economic prosperity of the south, with it’s ties to the west and it’s democratic government and the north, with its communist regime the dominates the lives and maintains complete control over the choices of its citizens. Young people’s lives in South Korea are dominated by pop culture and concerns with their own future and getting jobs (my conclusion through conversation with students), while the lives of the youth born into North Korean Culture is “controlled through state terrorism” (Yoon Yeosang, July 1st, 2014: BIP Lecture).
In the afternoon, we turned our attention to fun in the sun and games to “break the ice”. Fun times with a chance to begin getting to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere leads to more serious conversations in the afternoon regarding the lecture shared in the morning. Check out the photos of the games we played together.
Ahhhh…. but what a great thing a good night’s sleep is. I feel like a new person. We were given a lovely breakfast and the morning to explore. We had lunch and then our orientation meeting. We were welcomed by the President of Seoul Women’s University.
I am attending the Baharom International Program in South Korea from June 29 – July 25th along with three other VIU Faculty, one from Cedar Grove in Pennsylvania, 40 international students (from Canada, all over the states, Germany, Hong Kong and Russia) and 55 Korean students. We arrived on Sunday June 28th and drove by lovely parks and a pool. I found this picture on the Tourism Korea website. One of our VIU students, Miles, is taking pictures as we drive by. The scenery is beautiful.
Our first night we were brought straight to our dorm rooms and then a pizza party… for everyone but me. I was soooo tired, I decided to head straight to bed to crash.