Posts Tagged ‘smallthings’

A few moments in Seoul

[click on image to play.]

I’ve been collecting bits of audio & video on my ventures out into the city, and this is just a little compilation of some of the things I’ve seen and heard.

The music is being performed live by North Korean defector, Seong-Jin Park & Ewha University’s traditional music ensemble. This is from the Beautiful Dream Concert held on the 15th. The other audio track was recorded on a subway platform. The video tower is by Ik-joong Kang & Nam June Paik.

. . . . . .

The time here has been interesting… inspiring, exhausting, mystifying, and daunting. Sometimes all at once. I will admit to a few moments of homesickness. But overall, the feeling of being here is quite good.

I realized there is a general absence of sirens, honking horns, shouting. Occasionally in the afternoons a man in a truck drives through the little side streets, announcing over a loud speaker what electronic goods he has for sale on board. Other than that, things are pretty staid. After living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which always felt like one of the loudest neighborhoods in NYC – especially in the summer when everyone loved to have parties in their backyards with huge PA systems blasting reggaeton into the wee hours – this is a much welcomed change. How far away from that am I?

Looking forward to checking out a mandoo (dumpling) restaurant nearby, and also where I can get the perfect bowl of ja jang myun. These little things add up.


08 2009

Art & Seoul

Made it to the National Museum of Contemporary Art today. It was a little bit of an arduous task, but once I sweat my way through the trek, it proved to be well worth it. The museum is situated within Seoul Grand Park, a vast expanse of nature in the city, which also houses a zoo and various children’s rides. It was so beautiful and serene, surrounded by green mountains – I felt like I was somewhere outside of the city far away from the subway I had just exited.

seoul grand park 06*

There was an amazing array of work from Korean artists of the 19th-21st cent, largely little or unknown in the U.S. I am still processing all of the work that I saw today. To see pieces created in the last 100 years of Korea, through Japanese occupation and the Korean War was really profound:


Artist: 이형록 [Hyong-rok Lee] – circa 1950-ish

On special exhibition were works by video & installation artist Ik-Joong Kang, who also collaborated closely with Nam June Paik, as well as the 2009 artist of the year, Suh Yong-sun, and an overview of works of the “Korean Diaspora” – specifically artists who have immigrated to Japan, China, & the Commonwealth of Independent States (fascinating).

Here is a little preview of what I saw (from Ik-joong Kang/except for 1st image – Kang & Nam June Paik):


The lower rung of the video tower.



NMCA 020*

There is much more that I wish I could post right now, but I am realizing that I need to spend the next few days just processing all the media I have been collecting…. video soon to come.

Time to dive into the editing!


Oh yeah, just as a side note, I successfully found a shortcut to my subway station. It cuts the time in half, and a much more enjoyable path – through a series of quiet residential streets. Still trying to navigate the subway system, which is fairly user-friendly except if you get on the platform going in the wrong direction. Then life may suck for a moment, especially in rush hour, as you try to find the path to the right platform. I’m used to the MTA in NYC, which has been notorious for making transit hell, so this really shouldn’t be a problem!….

There is some weird feedback going on in my camera here. This is not what the sky actually looked like today.

On my way home. (There is some weird feedback going on in my camera here. Not the way the sky looked.)


08 2009

My new rice cooker speaks Korean

… and also plays musical sound effects.

Perhaps it will help me learn the language.


(Thanks, Uncle & Aunt Chang!)


08 2009

In the heat

Ventured out today to find the subway station and explore the streets around my apartment.

Things around here generally feel calm, even when there’s a lot of traffic from both people and cars. Maybe it’s the summer haze casting a filter between me and the world, or perhaps I lived in NYC too long. The humidity here is pretty intense right now, but everyday I try to get out and record some audio or take photos or video.

A side street:


Near Hapjeong station:

mapogu street 1 small

The culture shock is not nearly as intense as I was anticipating. Hopefully I do not speak too soon. Of course, this is based on the last time I was here, fifteen years ago, a teenager with absolutely no knowledge of the language, very little knowledge of the culture, with pink streaks in my hair and beat up clothes bought at vintage stores (or ‘the flea market’ as Mom always fondly says). In 1994, to the average Korean, I looked like an alien, a crazy homeless girl, or Japanese. I didn’t even know the meaning of the word kyopo (ethnic Korean born outside of Korea), much less the complexities of what it meant to be kyopo from America in a country that harbored very mixed and sometimes hostile attitudes toward America. I never really got over the culture shock on that trip.

Things are very different now, both with me and within the sociocultural attitudes here. Exactly how they are different with the latter is one of the things I am curious to find out more about…


08 2009