Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Weekend 20 of 52.

Soul Session at Cafe Soul Underground, Korean wedding noodles

This is Dan. We'll see how this goes.

School's out for Summer. Actually, it's out for the next few weeks. Summer camp is this week and then actual vacation time is the following two weeks. It's standard in Korea, and I genuinely feel for the kids. It seems like they should have more time off since they usually have 10-12 hour school days.

Regardless of how long break is, they were excited for it and this past weekend started a bit earlier than usual with a field trip to the War Memorial of Korea. That probably sounds familiar because Serenity, Korrine and I took a trip there during Weekend 9.

The 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War was on June 25th, so the War Memorial had new exhibits even just a couple months since I had been there. Nearly everything we did with the kids I hadn't seen before. We watched a movie talking about how the war started and progressed. Oh, it talked about it in Korean. I still got the gist of it, but one of my students came up to me after it finished and asked if I understood the meaning. I said, "not exactly," and he paused for a minute to find the words in English.

He finally responded with "The movie's meaning is: War is Hell."

It really stuck with me the rest of the day. This was a 9th grade boy who felt weary about the effects and images of war. I don't know if his American equivalent would have responded the same way. There are people alive in Seoul who still remember their city being taken over and having to run from their homes in hope of a time when they could return to the life they had worked hard to make. It's hard to imagine as an American.

We then stepped into a DMZ exhibit and were led by a Korean tour guide. The kids behaved well and the exhibit was extremely well done. I have video footage that I will compile soon (read as: who knows when). It ended with a photo exhibit of life in the DMZ, of which there isn't much. Obviously there are just soldiers living along the line that divides North and South Korea. It was a bit depressing because it soon became clear that the land in the DMZ area is probably some of the most beautiful land in Korea without a doubt. But it's divided by a half-century-old scar. God constantly reminds me that this is a country that needs our prayers. And yours too.

Friday, we played another show. I think this was our 5th show? 4th show? I don't know. Anyway, we've been playing the same cafe/venue every time and we've been incredibly blessed by the owner, Shin Hyun Yo. Shin has been so gracious to us and treated us better than we've ever been treated as musicians and the whole process has really been a confirmation that we should continue doing music for the time being in whatever capacity possible. We're so happy that that seems to be playing in a small cafe on the west side of Seoul for a few Koreans and a few expats every month or so.

We've also been writing lately. It feels awesome and I hope we can continue to be inspired by our new (temporary) home. We've been playing one of our new songs the past couple shows and I finally got a video of it up. It's called "A Place" and I feel like it's a good commentary, musically and lyrically, on where we're at right now as a couple.

Anyway, shows are fun. Music is fun. This weekend was fun but we didn't do much else. Serenity took some photos of our food from this weekend. I promise I'll write more often than every 2 months from now on.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Weekend 19 of 52.

Okonomiyaki, Gorilla in the Kitchen in Apgujeong, Dosan Park, Dr. Fish, Coex Mall, Kimchi Museum

We had a bit of a weekend away. We went out to Gangnam (almost an hour away) to pack into their busiest of subway lines and to see some of their sights.

I have been following the Seoul Photostream on Flickr where they mentioned the restaurant Gorilla in the Kitchen. Highbrow pasta and bread combined with gym culture and the opportunity for a health analysis and personal trainer. It was not cheap, but we shared, and it is nice to have pasta instead of rice sometimes. The restaurant was at the entrance of Dosan Park, so we walked through the park and let the trees ameliorate some of the heat of the day.

We finally got to do Dr. Fish! The only skincare fish we know of left in Seoul is at Restree in Gangnam. It was hilarious. It tickled on the soles, but there was some bite to it too. W2000 and a beverage purchase gets you fifteen minutes with the fish.

And then we were off to Coex Mall, which is a huge Western-style mall and exhibition center. Dan is a great lover of kimchi and so wanted to to visit the Kimchi Field Museum in the basement of Coex. It was all right. They did a good job making a museum out of a recipe, but there is not a whole ton to be said about vegetable pickling. We did learn about all of its health benefits, though, and that was informative. Chief among them: cancer fighting anti-oxidants, digestion aiding lactic acid, metabolism boosting red pepper paste.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Weekend 18 of 52.

Gyeonghuigung Palace, Seoul Museum of History, walk in Jongno, Subway Sandwiches

Nothing we intended to do worked out (isn't that the way?), but I think we liked that better. We wanted to go see a Taekwondo demonstration at Gyeonghuigung Palace. We found the palace, but we couldn't find the Taekwondo. Instead, we walked around the palace almost completely by ourselves. It's set back, sort of in the woods, and it was so green and so quiet, and we couldn't believe that we live in Korea. The Seoul Museum of History was just beyond the palace, so we paid our 70 cents each and walked through an exhibit on the Korean War, another exhibit borrowed from London, and a 1:1500 scale model of Seoul. On Friday night, we had gone to see the movie 71: Into the Fire, about the 71 volunteer student soldiers who fought alone to defend a school in Pohang during the Korean War, so the museum's exhibit on the war felt more immediate to us.

Sunday was our second try at Dr. Fish, and our second shut down. But this time, a clue! The cashier showed us a little English note explaining that they could no longer play Dr. Fish, but that the Restree Cafe in Gangnam still could. So, Gangnam it is. Korrine was with us for that, and we walked around Jongno for a bit before we ate dinner at Subway, the restaurant not the underground.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Seoul Shop Fronts.

A couple of years ago, I read about a website called LondonShopFronts.com. Emily Webber began (and hasn't stopped) cataloging shop fronts around London. I really liked the idea and started following the site. Now that we live in Seoul and everything here is, not only amazing, but also in a state of constant flux, I thought it would be cool to start cataloging the shop fronts we pass in Seoul. I've put it at SeoulShopFronts.com.