Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weekend 27 of 52.

Hyehwa, Lock Museum, Kokdu Museum

We've been to Hyehwa once before to visit Cafe Mano for patbingsu and milkshakes. Yum. We went back again to visit Cafe Mano for milkshakes and tiramisu. But also so that we could go to the Lock Museum and the Kokdu Museum.

Locks are locks. No further explanation necessary, but I will say that the curators shyly spoke excellent English and gave us a quality book of Seoul Museum tourist info (as part of the "Infinitely Yours, Seoul" campaign, which I think is really cute).

Kokdu, though, are wooden figurines of angel-type beings that decorate funeral biers. They act as guides to and guardians of the deceased as they wander their way to heaven. The Kokdu stories reminded me of Dante's Inferno (which I only read for a college class, so don't think I'm too terribly smart or cultured). The funeral bier is also decorated with phoenix and dragon carvings. We learned of dragons, that they follow the path of the rain and are able to descend into the depths of the seas and then ascend to the heights of the heavens. As such, dragons are fantastic afterlife companions (and not at all the combatants that skewed Western lore would have you believe), fighting off foes and having all that inside information.

All of the descriptions in the Standing Exhibit were translated proficiently into English. There is also a dynamic Special Exhibit that presents Kokdu in varying modern art genres. Transient as it is, this exhibit's explanations are only in Korean. When we went, it contained manual wheel animations (called phenakistoscope) and crank puppets (like this, but in real life). The museum is small and it is not free (W5000 per adult), but it was different from all the other museums we've been to, and we really enjoyed it.

An ad on the subway for Bling Bling Shampoo. Turns out it blings with placenta. And then I just kept seeing placenta beauty products for the rest of the day.

We get stopped a lot in the streets to be interviewed and participate in various activities. I think it's because we're big white people but also because there's just always a lot going on. We stopped to sign a banner for the Yellow Ribbon Campaign, which I think carries the same significance as tying yellow ribbons on old oak trees. Dan signed in Japanese, and I think he got yelled at a little bit. Haha. I wrote "Fighting!" because that is a common victory chant here.

We very much like mimicking stone faces. We're pretty good at it.

Vine covered buildings.

Hyehwa is real pretty.

We peeked in on some construction, likely for our future enjoyment.

Exercise recommendations and a robot saying, "Saranghaeyo", which is "I love you" in robot. And in Korean.

We had udon for lunch. Dan's came with sea creatures; among them, this squirmy little octopus.

And then he looked real blue (and orange), but we're not sure why. I don't think I asked him to pose with sad face. Hey Dan, is everything okay?

Jazz Story restaurant.

Building a building.

The Lock Museum is just past the pasta monkey man.

Lock Museum in Korean.

Butterflies on locks. I think we read that artisans spent a lot of time and energy crafting their locks in an effort to imbue them with special importance to help them work better. I might be making that up. Balderdash!

A chastity belt. We can all agree that this is horrifying.

From Nepal.

I think these are Korean locks, but now I'm not sure. I did say that the curator spoke English well, and several times she thought we were calling her over and came to assist us. I guess I should have asked her questions. Listen, anytime a Korean is good at English, you should tell her so, because they always severely underestimate their abilities.

Ye olde cumbersome key chain.

There was a little locksmith's workshop set up. He listens to some tapes and fashions turtle locks...

ornate bar locks...

and scaly fish locks.

Fish and dragon. I think these are Chinese.

An array of modern-style Western padlocks.

Turtles are common latch lock figures. Their hard shells convey security and their ability to tightly grip prey is meant to transfer to the lock's fixedness. I am not balderdashing that.

Large latch. Decorated African lock.

Turtle lock and its corresponding technical drawing. (Hey, somebody buy me one of these.)

Frog lock and a wall of keys. I like locks.

There was a small gallery on the museum's first floor. Rows of pots.

Floating chairs and reflection.

At the Kokdu Museum.

Dan having a rest with his Kokdu guide. Me hanging out with my dragon.

No pictures were allowed in the museum proper, but some of the collection spilled over into the theater next door. The museum's founder, Kim Ock-rang, started the collection 30 years ago, and she has since amassed some 20,000 figurines.

Crafting laughs for the recently departed.

These are two sides of the same head. Each right ear spawns a new face. It made me a little uncomfortable.

Riding a cat, maybe, or a barrel chested dragon.


And then we ate the best chicken galbi we've had, with the tastiest cabbage and so the tastiest kimchi. I would definitely go to Hyehwa again, and I definitely will, for more milkshakes and museums.


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