Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Andong!

Last weekend was quite busy: Halloween on Friday, then a trip down to Andong with a few other families for an overnight stay in a Hanok and a tour of the area.

I'd carved up a couple of pumpkins quick for the kids' Halloween party on Friday; as usual, we had the party at one of the many indoor playgrounds that are so common today. I decided on a lark to bring the pumpkins with me to Andong the next day; they actually seemed to fit well the ambiance of the hanok. The jack o lantern is an old folk tradition from Ireland and other parts of Europe; they would serve to guide the kind spirits to the Halloween festivities, while scaring off the malevolent ones. I explained to the girls this is why at Halloween you dressed up and used the pumpkins, since at the party you'd never really know who was a human and who wasn't. In a country like Korea with a strong folk religion and shamanic traditions, it seems odd that such a practice didn't really take root here, but then pumpkins and squash are a fairly recent introduction to this finest of peninsulas.

The pumpkin was a huge hit, with one of the other families vowing to do the same next Halloween. I showed them several pictures from the internet of awesome carved pumpkins, so now it seems we'll be having a contest next year. I am so going to win.

The night at the hanok was pretty nice. In the morning we went to visit Dosan Seowon, the school that Toegye built (the dude on the 1000 Won bill).  I was most impressed with the museum showcasing artifacts from Toegye's life: I got to see his one and only spittoon and more importantly, his broom.  The youngest was acting up so I threatened to smack her bottom a couple of times with Toegye's broom, promising to buy the replica that would no doubt be offered for sale in the souvenir shops outside.  Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that none of the shops had a replica of this most hallowed of brooms; in fact, most of the shop owners looked at me like I had three heads when I asked them where I could find one.  I mean, come on!  If you're going to show me Toegye's one and only broom as a highlight of a display on artifacts from his life, why aren't there replicas for sale??  Preposterous!

 Anyway, a great weekend was had by all.  Time to get some work done.  Listening to the latest Godspeed You! Black Emperor album makes it go faster:


Moving!

Several months ago I came out of my apartment to find that my car had been vandalized; it wasn't the first time such a thing had happened, and at the time I pretty much chalked it up to just a bunch of kids screwing around. However, I've had to reconsider this position: not just my van, but June's car has since then been repeatedly vandalized. Someone has been putting out cigarettes on the cars, dumping coffee and other garbage, smearing unknown goop on the doors and windows. It finally came to a head a couple weeks back when someone took to ripping up our mail, leaving the pieces strewn about around the mailboxes.

Why someone would do this is pure conjecture, although if I were to hazard a guess I'd say it's because someone is envious of my beautiful wife and children; they must have a shrew of a wife and fat porky disrespectful kids, so when they see me and mine they just naturally get bent out of shape. I understand them.

While I can empathize with what may be their rationale for messing with my shit, it's obvious that we can no longer stay in this area. It kind of sucks anyway, being rather shabby and old, with few decent green places for the kids to play; also, it is rather far from June's business and the girls' school. That June hates the area because there are too many fortune tellers and shamans around doesn't add much to the idea of staying, nor does her saying that she will die if we continue to stay here. So move it is!

I am looking forward to the change of scene, although I have no idea how the hell I'm going to pay for it. The van died a while back as well, so I also need new transportation; where the hell is all this milk and honey I'm supposed to be receiving for living as a waeg on this finest of peninsulas?? All I see is a rapidly diminishing bank account and fewer years ahead to fill it up so I don't have to eat only kimchi rice and seaweed when I'm old.

Ah well, at least in the short term it will be a positive change for all of us. The new digs are pretty new and in a nice part of town, lots of green spaces. And the move is a great chance to toss out piles of old junk, although having a yard sale would be fun. Sadly, Koreans just aren't into that kinda thing.

Time for coffee.