Daily Archives: May 1, 2006

cultural exposure

this weekend i was privledged with the opportunity to visit two traditional korean festivals. on saturday, with the majority of the GV participants, we went on a field trip to I’chon. I’chon is just south of Seoul and is renouned for it’s potters who have existed there for hundreds of years, many of whom still throw and fire their pottery in the traditional ways. nontheless, I’chon proved to be a heaven for both traditional and modern potters as the city offers everything needed for the art, it practicly breathes clay. i was stunned and awestruck throughout the day, which was much too short. here is sample of the pottery done by the local artists –

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this is a traditional earthen kiln

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one of many out of place, bizarre statues at the festival site (seemingly only known for this single, annual event) this huge kiln was actually a museum featuring historical photos and displays of Korean pottery heritage

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the following were displayed as part of an international ceramics competition featuring artists from all over the globe, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Japan, and the USA were among them. the american art was strangly industrial, while the Japanese pieces had an eerie, experimental twang. the Korean sculptures were generally thick and heavy, many of them depicting traditional life. its hard to generalize any further than that; i really just enjoyed meandering through the place, but our quirky, overly confident tour-guide pressed on with great vigor. our program director, JK, had set a deadline and scheduled the whole day out, so there was, unfortunately, little freedom. it was pretty irritating tagging along with the american students all day, but i was lucky enough to have my roommate Ha-na there. i also managed to sneak off on my own a few times and barter with the saleswomen, it was a liberating experience. IMG_2183.JPG

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after the ceramics festival we all went to the Sileuksa temple, which is on a beautiful little lake. i prayed in the temple, and we all enjoyed playing with the little buddhas and the cool lake breeze…

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that night i managed to get myself back to Seoul from the campus with a friend’s parents. then i met Ji-uun, or “Angie” in the subway station and spent the night at her home after spending a few hours with her and her serious-looking mother at a well known nearby Jimjilbang. the next day we slept until 1, had a fabulous pajan breakfast and prepared to go to the lotus lantern festival. Angie and her mom had a fight while i sat in the bedroom, uncomfortably witnessing my first Korean mother-daughter fight. it seemed to go along the same lines that any maternal argument would, and we left with the situation primarily unresolved until Angie forgot her cellphone, i stayed in the subway while she ran home, grabbed it, and snuck a kiss from her Oh-ma as she ducked out the door. solid work, Angie.
the festival was pretty amazing, the little we experienced of it. there were many crafting and hands-on projects and a lot of booths representing Buddhists from all over the worls – Thailand, Indonesia, Tibet, Nepal, India, etc. it was amazing to see their displays and various ways of practice, keeping in mind the common thread that held them together. i was feeling peaceful and inspired. i prayed in the giant temple there, Jogyesa, and watched as children “washed the baby Buddha” in sacred water on a shrine of white roses. we tried on some traditional Indian saris and marvelled at the rows and rows of lanterns strung from the sky……IMG_2232.JPG

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not really sure why all of these cops were necassary at a traditional buddhist flower parade… but if there is one thing that i have noticed it is how overly-prepared Koreans usually are, especially in the areas of citizen control.

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the lantern a sweet young woman gave me because i was too late make my own… i carried it on the subways and the two busses to get back to campus. it now hangs above my bottom bunk.

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the Han river from the bus on the way home…IMG_2292.JPG

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