Two Savages in Southeast Asia

Weaving a Path Through Seoul

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Slow start to the day, what with our late-night revelry at Super Sonic yesterday. Between Lindsay Sterling and Choyongpil, our jumping/dancing muscles are well worn out, which we feel immediately when we head down the block for some breakfast groceries. Solhee’s got some frozen blueberries tucked away in the deepest recesses of her freezer, so we start off the day in an unexpectedly California-esque way with blueberry-banana smoothies! Yum.

Then it’s off to Solhee’s university, where we finally succeed in visiting a museum; this one is on embroidery, both traditional and modern. Most of the selection is Korean, but there’s some Chinese and Japanese stuff on display for comparison. (For instance: Japanese embroidered garments usually incorporate painting to a greater degree than their Korean counterparts, while the visual design is more minimalistic.)

Solhee’s got some work to do – an article on Korean Independence Day and the ways in which it differs from the American Fourth of July celebrations. She half-jokingly says she’s writing the article to introduce the concept of celebratory fireworks to Korea, where they are sorely lacking. She points us to a temple an hour out of the city along one of the metro lines, but we’re pretty exhausted from the music festival. We decide instead to head into the downtown area and try our luck with a Korean film, The Flu. Although the film is entirely in Korean with no subtitles, it’s a fascinating cultural experience. It’s a pretty standard action flick, so even without any idea what they’re saying we can sort of follow along with the plot. Some observations of note:

  • The foreign presence in the film is minimal: one Malay boy, who dies towards the end, and two pushy white assholes who are supposed to be from the CDC.
  • There are multiple scenes of (mostly) old men sitting around in various locations looking very serious as they discuss their response to the outbreak.
  • Along with that, there are several points at which various characters “pull rank” by invoking their status or relative age to silence less powerful people. (Usually the people they silence are right, but whatever; who cares about being right when you’re powerful and old?)

So yeah: despite the language barrier, we manage to get something out of it. The rest of the day is pretty lazy; we grab some fried kabocha squash pieces on the way back, then cook up a dinner of noodles and stir-fried vegetables with fish cake and tofu. (Of course, there’s kimchi with the meal. What’s a Korean meal without kimchi?)

Tomorrow, we’re off to the DMZ, then on to Geumsunsa for our temple stay!