Monday, September 24, 2007

As Per NSLS's Request:

I think that to actually make this sucker fit, I would need some good old fashioned breast binding...

It's Chuseok!

I'm too lazy to explain Chuseok, so in stead, I'll let you read about it on Wikipedia. On Thursday, we had a Chuseok party at school where all the kids and teachers came wearing hanbok (Korean traditional dress). We made song pyeon, a kind of chuseok rice cake that is really yummy, learned about bowing and traditional tea ceremony, and played traditional games like yut nori and sileum. It was fun!

I learned how to bow. And yes, this is my hanbok. It was given to me two years ago, but I never had the opportunity to wear until this year.

And look at how freakin cute the kids are in their hanbok:


This yut nori. I think the game has a Chinese origin.

More bowing:

Chuseok chal bo ne say yo.

more photos, no explanation

Land of 10,000 Buddhas

I've been in Korea for nearly 3 years. In that amount of time, I have seen shockingly little of the country out of the greater Seoul area. Shockingly little. So last week when I traveled out of Gyeonggi Do and into smaller, lesser known areas of Korea, I was indeed shocked to discover that I don't actually hate Korea- I just hate living in the city. Specifically, I hate hate hate living in Seoul.

Last weekend in the midst Typhoon Whabi, the General Secretary and I traveled to Gyung-ju, a smallish city nestled between the mountains and the East Sea. Gyung-ju was the seat of the Silla Dynasty, the last of Korea's three kingdoms. It was also the time when Buddhism, which had traveled to Korea via China, became popularized. Mountains, the sea, monarchy, rich history and Buddhism make for a stunning weekend trip, despite the steady downpour and lack of decent public transportation.

The photo you see above is of a seated Buddha, typical of the Late Silla period. It was taken at Golgusa. Further explanation below...

Saturday took us to Seogeolam and Bulkugsa, two temples situated on the side of a small mountain.

Here I am at Bulguk-sa. This is a big temple that houses several Buddhas, which we were not supposed to take pictures of. We rarely followed this rule- the GS would stun (ie distract) the monk or volunteer with his fluent Korean while I took the pictures, usually shielded by our umbrellas. The results of our clandestine photo taking are mixed:

These photos come from the places we visited on Sunday: Golgusa (which means "grotto" because the main attraction is a seated Buddha which is actually carved into the face of a very high limestone rock. Though it does have other things to see such as the buddhas (newish looking because they have all been replaced recently) that sit in the caves below the grotto. When we went to Golgusa, we were granted a brief respite from the rain, but climbing up the slippery rocks to get to the grotto was a bit of a challenge. I would say that Golgusa was definitely the highlight of our trip....

Golgusa is also the training grounds for a Korean martial art called Sunmudo. We saw some students there, their dorm and their training ground, but it was Sunday, so no one was practicing.

This photo came from Girlimsa Temple where we saw even more Buddhas. Another place where we weren't supposed to take pictures, but did anyway.

We also made it to some other sites like the East Sea, pagodas, royal tombs and the museum, but Blogger seems unhappy with the number of photos I've posted here, so that's all folks~

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pucca choco chocco

I feel like I've deprived my American breathren of Funny Korean things. So today I am paying tribute to Korean Music an Animation...

Enjoy a day of pure asian weirdness...

I love Pucca!!

Baek Ji Young - Sarang An Hae

"I Don't Love You"

'Sorry. I Don't Like You.'

I saw a t-shirt yesterday....

it said, "help cure abortion". and it was worn by someone who almost definitely didn't understand it.

AND now for something completely different:

The General Secretary finally had his follow up appointment. It seems that things are not as bad as we originally thought. The levels of bacteria in his stomach have been decreasing and the labs didn't show any signs of cancer. He still has to be careful about what he eats (no Korean food), needs to stop smoking and shouldn't really drink either, but we are much less worried than before. His main problem, it now seems, is his cholesterol. But that seems manageable...

In other news, there isn't much news. And this is good. The string of unfortunate incidents seems to have lifted with the heat. Our undocumented friends are still being caught at alarming rates, but the union and its solidarity groups have set up a kind of black panthers style police the police system. They go to the subway stations that migrants frequently use for commuting in the morning and evening to ensure that every can get to and from work safely. And many of the leaders in the migrant community now have Korean "body guards" to make sure that they have a little extra protection. Fortunately, we have a lot of activists in this neighborhood so that hasn't meant that we have to accommodate the GS's "body guards".

I think the GS hates the idea of always having someone with him. He is impulsive and having someone else around ALL the time really inhibits his ability to move freely, but well, so do the police. I feel a lot better knowing that there is almost always someone with him. At least that way if he does get caught, I can find out about right away.

The way I figure it, the GS only has to avoid getting caught here for a few more months- By winter time he should be able to return to Bangladesh without too many problems with the police there, his family or his (kind of) ex-wife's family. Of course, the political situation in Bangladesh is constantly changing, but I'm trying to be optimistic about everything... I really want him to get back to Bangladesh soon so he can deal with is whole life mess, but.... to really hope for something might still be asking too much....