Thursday, October 20, 2016

What's Up?

Not much. Little in the way of news; I'm getting along pretty well at my new school, the co-teachers are always vocally impressed with my materials, and I have to admit I'm hitting them with my best stuff.

Here are a couple of shots of sixth graders with an activity where they must listen to the textbook song (the songs in my new 5th and 6th grade books--Cheonjae 2--are even worse than the Daekyo ones, so no one wants to sing them) and then put the lines in order. There is quite a bit of prep, in addition to the cutting up of the lines of the song for each pair (12 sets): rip the song and then edit out a couple snippets to use in the instructions, and make some tedious PPT animations. You repeat the activity only this time the pairs work against each other to see who can grab the most lines and put them over the same lyrics in their textbook.

Lunch at the school is generally pretty good, except about once a week they have fish in red sauce or odeng (fish spam), both of which I strongly dislike. Last week, we had a new one on me, the Korean/Chinese date, or jujube, in Korean: 사과대추 literally apple jujube, because it is though to resemble an apple in taste.

Finally, last weekend was the Itaewon International Festival, which is an opportunity to eat vast amounts of good food and drink different drinks. Here I am having a guava soft drink from a Mexican stall, with a masked tout reminiscent of that Mexican wrestler from my childhood--Santo (?):

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hyochang Park

This park is a tomb park where the corpses of patriotic forefathers are laid. It was where the tomb of Prince Munhyo (King Jeongjo's eldest son at the end of the Joseon) was placed and was originally called Hyochangmyo. It enshrined more tombs of the royal family and was raised to the status Hyochangwon in 1870 (7th year of King Gojong's reign). Originally it was in a wooded area near Hyochang-dong and Cheongpa-dong but the Japanese military became stationed there illegally and started to destroy it. Finally, at the end of the Japanese colonial period (March in 1945) the Japanese military force moved the tombs to Seosamneung by force and made it Hyochang Park. After Independence, Kim Koo moved the corpses of Lee bongchang, Yun Bonggil and baek Jeonggi--three patriots--to the current location. In 1948, the corpses of Lee Dongnyeong, Cha Iseok, and Jo Seonghwan--who were the key figures of the provisional goverment--were also enshrined here. In 1949, the corpse of Kim Koo was enshrined as well. In the area of the three patriots' tomb, the tomb on An Junggeun was placed. In front of the three patriots' tomb, Uiyeolsa--where the seven patriotic forefathers were enshrined--was built in 1990. To cherish their memory, a joint ceremony is held every year on April 13th, the date when the provisional government was founded.

Today is Korean Foundation Day, October 3rd, which refers to the purely made up event in 2333 BC when the Prince of Heaven, 환웅 Hwanung, decended to earth to live with mankind, chosing the Korean peninsula as the place to do so.

Considering it was a school holiday, and key celebration of Korean history, I assumed the park described above (as on the plaque near the entrance) would be bubbling with ceremonies and activities, or at least that everything would be open. Wrong.

Kim Koo Museum:

Kim Koo tomb:

Three patriots' tomb:

Anti-communist monument:

Still, it is a nice park, with lots of walking paths,

shady benches,

and old men playing janggi, Korean chess.

Near the entrance, the convenience store was open, and located nearby was a doll's house of a traditional Korean ‎한옥 hanok and a tall sculpture:

I couldn't find the interpretive plaque, but fortunately my old pal Chris in South Korea was able to help out:
Called “Chumji”, or the Divine Blessing, it “signifies the meeting point of heaven and earth whilst also emphasizing the sacredness of the grounds-a place where the ancestral spirit is nested."

One nifty little area is a celebration of the 태극기 taegugki, the Korean flag. It includes sculptures (for want of a better word) of the trigrams, the black bars surrounding the yin-yang symbol at the flag's center. The Wikipedia page can explain it all pretty well.

Sadly, you have to balance that with piles of garbage sitting in the open:

To end, a nice detail of the fence, and a couple of flowers:

At some point, I plan to update this post, when things are open ...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chuseok Soccer Game

Finally got another FC Seoul game--first time since Foreigner Day--only to find that they've brought back the "Fun Park", only now it's the Food Park.

I had the garlic beef mok-sal from the "Chilling Kitchen" truck for 6,500 W, and it was quite honestly delicious.

Sadly, the game vs. Jeju United, didn't go so well--it was a scoreless tie: a fairly even first half, with FCS coming to dominate but unable to convert. One of the best chances near the end was this corner kick.

Above, the crowd streams out of World Cup Stadium into a lovely autumn afternoon in the west side of Seoul.
Below, the subway station was built for the stadium, but I never noticed before that won awards. Well, at least one:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Chuseok Baseball Game

Ventured forth to Gocheok Skydome today with pal The Stumbler to watch the Heroes meet the KT Wiz. The start was inauspicious, and I'm not only referring to the Wiz taking a 6 - nil lead in the top of the first. It was our understanding that the ticket prices were 50% off--this was true, but as it turned out, only in the nose-bleed seats.

First, a little context as this is the first time I've arrived from the new exit (#2) at Guil Station on line 1. I blogged one of my previous trips here. The exit there was more scenic, but they've done some interesting things at the new exit, including a series of stellae that display a timeline of the history of baseball in Korea.

Even though the little pizza/soju kiosk in the second pic above was closed (and as The Stumbler pointed out, if one is going to grant a concession, a minimum requirement should be that it is open on game days ...) the food available was pretty good. New York Hot Dog and Coffee still has the closest thing to a legitimate chili cheese dog in Korea. There was also a chicken skewer shop good enough that we went back for more. And they are now selling the 1 liter "saeng maekchu" for 6000 W like they did back in Mokdong Stadium.

And if you could wait, there was a "maekchu-nim" who came by with fresh Cass on his back:

Sadly, he was the only such dude for the whole stadium! The other traditional constant one must love about baseball in Korea is the cheerleaders. Here are the KT Wiz boosters:

Anyway, the game. The Heroes' opening pitcher, Park Ju-hyeon (sorry, no hangeul on this computer), quickly dug a deep, deep hole, giving up five runs without a single out in the first. The Nexen squad gradually fought their way back into the game, with a big 4th inning and finally taking a 8 - 6 lead in the seventh. Here I am posing as the tenth run scores in the eighth:

There's no "pocha" scene after the games--at least not yet--so we wandered across the street to a promising-looking "eating street" and settled into a "Beer Caps" for a while with a nice view:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

First Hwesik

While I became well-respected at the school I have just left, my early days there were less than promising; for example, my welcoming hwesik (roughly, business dinner) was about two weeks in. And we had boiled octopus, even though I made it clear to my handler that's one of just a few foods I don't like. By contrast, my new school had a delicious hwesik for me last Thursday--my first day.

A pork restaurant, just about my favorite, with three varieties, expertly tended by dudes in funny hats. Turns out, it was "Christmas in August".

Now some food pr0n:

We did go to e-cha (second round), a quirky place nearby, which had three things on the menu: French fries, fried cheese sticks, and beer.

Yep. Potato House.

Anyway, I was informed this was "man's dinner", and all ten of the male employees came out (except the principal--who is leaving) and most of them made it to Gamja jib. I feel well-welcomed to Geumyang-cho!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Street Scenes XIV: My New Neighborhood

I took up residence this week in a postage stamp of a place at Hyochang Park, immediately adjacent to Sookmyung Women's University. So far, my new school seems great (stay tuned for more later), and I went wandering for a bit in the cooler weather of Saturday. Here are some things I saw:

That last pic above is a pedestrian tunnel on the way to Sookdae station on line 4. My nearest station, though, is Hyochang Park on line 6--where the odd motorcycle was. It is three stops from Itaewon, where I took the photo below of Yongsan (meaning: dragon hill) as clear as I've ever seen it from Seoul Pub.