Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stolen Goods

Whomever Jeffrey dates in a few years is going to be very lucky--this kid knows how to show someone a good time. On Saturday, we spent the afternoon together wandering around Seoul. His assignment was to be a tour guide and show his Auntie Nora some of Seoul's highlights. But before he could even show me his map of where we'd be going that day, I dragged the poor kid off the bus for a quick fat-kid-detour to the Doughnut Plant, one of my favorites places in NY. This one in Myung-dong was tasty, but not as good as the original.

Chocolate Cassis + Americano

Unfortunately that was the last picture I was able to take before my camera died out. These next few links are all stolen.

First we passed the tolling of the Bosingak Bell in Jongno-gu. Normally they only do it for New Years, so I don't really know why they were ringing it. I think my tour guide knows, but he was only supposed to speak to me in English, so about 87% of the information was lost in translation. Oh well. After that we walked to Insa-dong, where we climbed the stairs of Ssamji-gil: multiple levels of trinket-dom, antiques, and art. You know I'm a sucker for such things. Then as we were walking around, a group of street performers in a drum circle were dancing and playing the janggu (drum). When we were little, my sisters and I did buchaechoom (fan dance), and the scary-looking drag-queen man who taught us played one, so this was a mildly disturbing flashback.


Then we passed pojangmachas (street food carts) selling goon bam (roasted chestnuts) and making Kkuhl Tarae (honey skein):


For lunch we went to a restaurant, Koong, famous for their Choraengi Ddukgook with Gaesong (North Korean)-style dumplings. It. Was. So. Good. So good, in fact, that Jeffrey stuffed himself so much at lunch that he got sick before dinner, had to puke, and apparently is still sick the morning after. I admire him for his valiant eating.

After a few art galleries (a sucker for these things as well), we hopped in a cab to the National Folk Museum of Korea, where we strolled through an exhibit of beautiful, flowing hanbok (traditional gowns), and then saw some pansori (traditional folk singing) performances.


The pansori was such a flashback moment for me. My grandmother raised me since I was born, and all throughout my life I remember when she was sad, happy, bored--whenever--she would start singing and dancing pansori. I especially remember times where she would cry about longing to go back to Korea and sing a truly mournful song through tears. But she stayed to take care of me and my sisters, even when we mistreated and took her for granted. When I heard the performance I started to tear because I had completely forgotten about that part of her. I always remember my grandmother's cooking and have always regretted not being able to learn from her. But this was buried somewhere and I hadn't thought about it since she passed away twelve years ago. When she passed away, she was in Korea and I didn't have a chance to say goodbye. Not long after she died though, I had a dream about her and we talked about what is going to happen to me now that she's gone. She very calmly said that she and my grandfather are watching over me, and that I'll be fine. Then we said goodbye and she said it's going to be a long time before I see her again.

I'm enjoying being in Korea more than I thought I would. There are parts of my identity that I'm rediscovering and discovering for the first time. I'm so glad I made this decision to come here and take it all in.

1 comment:

  1. Noraaaaaa! I too am so so very happy for you that you decided to take this time to spend in Korea. Your memories of your grandmother are wonderful, and what a precious moment to have that come back to you after all this time. Much love, Abby