Flashmob in Seoul…update

2 weeks ago I participated in a flashmob in Insadong, Seoul.  Here a new video by the organizers.  You can see me through out the video but very clearly at 0:27 seconds.

For more details see my previous post here.

want more videos? Do a search on YouTube, try “Freeze Insadong” or “Flashmob Seoul 2011″.

your comments are always appreciated. ^^

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Flashmob in Seoul

Hi Guys,

Sorry for the long silence, I’m been getting busier as the semester progresses and my departure from Korea is drawing nearer.  I have a lot to share with you but just missing the time to do it.

Today I want to share a really nice experience I had the last weekend.  I participated in a flashmob in Insadong one of the neighborhood busy with tourists.  If you don’t know what a flashmob is, it’s a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse.

This event was planned for month and organized by Improv Korea.  Unlike the freeze in Grand Central Terminal in New York where the participants met beforehand we had to synchronize our watch to a website and just be present at the designated area.  We would freeze in place for 5 minutes from 16:37 to 16:42 before the surprised eyes of the crowd on a busy Saturday afternoon. For a better and dramatic effect they directed us to wear some red and arrive at the last minutes from the surrounding streets.

Me and two of my friends planned to take a pose.. literally.  Me and my friend Yeoreum should strike a pose while Hakima would take a picture of us.  It was kind hard to try to not move or even blink during the whole 5 mins.  Half way, I wished I had like Yeoreum brought my sunglasses so I could let my eyes wandered and check the reactions. Some people tried to poke me, wave their hands in front of my face or tried to look into Hakima’s lens. The street was so crowded that we would be pushed sometimes by the people zigzagging  between the human statues.

Here some early videos released on YouTube but the official made by Improv Korea is yet to be seen.  I think it will be awesome since they took the whole thing with a bird-eye view from the roof of a close-by building.  When it’s release I’ll let you know.

In the next video  I am at 0:37 ,0:50 and even clearer at 1:31. look for me :)

Overall it was a really good and fun experience.  I’m really looking forward to participate in an another one.

Looking forward in reading your comments ^^

Posted in Korea, Seoul | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Temple Stay Experience

Hey Guys~!

A few weekends back I got to experience something I really wanted to try in Korea: Being a monk! :)

As many of you already, Korea has a lots of mountains, 75% of its territory is mountainous. So they have a very special relationship with mountains, considering them as sacred for thousands of years. When Buddhism was first introduce during the 5th Century they built many temples in the mountains.  Most of the mountains have a Buddhist temple at its top.  If you want to visit those you have to climb and hike a lot.

Today they have a program called Temple Stay for people to go and experience the life of monks for a weekend or more.  It’s becoming a little tourists-y but still its is very common for families to go experience and get in touch with their Buddhist side.

A Temple Stay is a cultural-experience program designed to help people understand Korean Buddhism better. Temple stays offer various kinds of practicing methods such as Yebul (ceremonial service involving chanting), Chamseon (Zen meditation), Dahdoh (tea ceremony) and Balwoo Gongyang (communal Buddhist meal service). Participants can find their ‘true self’ amongst the harmony of nature while staying at a temple.

Temple Life, the experience of temples, is another program designed to help people understand Korean Buddhism and the life of monks better.

So We went to this remote temple, me and 2 other of my friends, Jen and Hélène. It took us about 2 hours and a half of Express bus from Seoul and than we had to switch to a local bus to get to the temple.

The Nowhere Bus Terminal

Once we got there, they explained to us how the temple works , showed us our room and gave us clothes.

We Are Monks

While there, we had a tight schedule, time was even counted for toilet, shower,etc…  We also have to get up at 3:50am and go to ceremonies, clean up the temple, I never bowed so much in my life.  Also it was soo cold outside (especially at 4am,-15C they said), in the mountain we can’t see well here but they still had snow almost everywhere while it was all melted in Seoul.

 

The Temple Central Place

This is where we had to bow 108 time after the 4am ceremony

It was a physical experience but I learned a lot, to me it was very interesting and eye-opening. my favorite parts was the tea ceremony with the monk where we could talk to him about anything, ask him questions, and also walking in the fir forest  was so nice.

Check out my gallery on smugmug to get all the pictures :)

here for the slideshow:

http://kosmik.smugmug.com/photos/swfpopup.mg?AlbumID=16403687&AlbumKey=yHTAB

gallery link:

http://kosmik.smugmug.com/Religion/Buddhist-Temple-Stay/16403687_yHTAB

Enjoy!

 

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외국인 or What is a Waeguk-in?

Imagine you are a minority like let’s say like me blue-eyed blond in a mass of Asians lol …in a monolingual homogeneous country.  You walk on the street a bunch a young guys say out loud: AH A FOREIGNER!  In a very surprised manner like he have seen a flower blooming in winter. At times you are ignored, others you become the main attraction. Locals usually avoid the empty seat next to you if there is others available.

What would be your reaction? your feelings? Imagine it happens almost everyday…

How would you feel after a month?after 6? after 10 years?

Imagine being ask very often why you came , why you are learning their language, culture? sometimes it’s out of curiosity but mostly out of incomprehension and bewilderment.

Feeling welcomed right? Especially coming from a “politically correct” country where immigrants demand tolerance, equality and sometimes a little more…

You probably guessed right because today I’m ranting…^^

If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in South Korea and learned even the most rudimentary Korean, you’ve most likely heard the word waeguk-in/ waeguk-saram more times than you could possibly count.

That’s because if you are not Korean than you are it, meaning ; foreigner, outsider, alien or at time simply non-Korean.

Even in French or English, I never like the word “Foreigner”. It always had a negative connotation to me. Pejorative,a sense that you are strange, unfamiliar, unwelcome. Whenever you go, you are identified as waeguk-in, there is really nothing better to make you feel isolated, alienated. This word is also used in formal setting by the government, institutions.  It not like back home you could be referred as migrant, international student or visitor or as plainly as a normal person since Canada is made pretty much people coming from everywhere. Rarely you would use “Foreigner” to address a person, let alone say it out loud as they pass on the street thinking they don’t understand. That would be out right a lack of respect and offensive. However Koreans do it without realizing and without intention to be rude or derogatory that just how they express the separation between Koreans and non-Koreans. They even lack of terms that I often have to refer to myself as being a waeguk-in.

Koreans have a clear and strong homogeneous ethnicity, they are proud of it and it could only reflects in their language HOWEVER this is an everyday pain for us, the others. No matter how much we put energy to adapt, learn the culture, language, we are always reminded you are not Koreans and your will never be.

I hope that if you are a “Foreigner”, migrant or a visitor in Canada you can appreciate what is given to you: tolerance, acceptance, services, community, free language courses, solidarity,etc…We go to GREAT extend making you feel “at home” sometimes we even forget who we are ourselves. Of course there is some discrimination cases but it’s not a day to day thing like here. I wish there will a little more of that here.

I’m really tired of feeling like I cannot understand anything because I’m not Korean, like I’m unfit or have a disease of something. I’M NOT A 외국인 (waeguk-in), an outsider, alien, foreigner, non-Koreans either I’M A PERSON. Sometimes I really feel like I’m back in time where “white” and “colored” segregation days…

**Note: Not all Koreans act this way and I can say that being on campus where there is more exchange students is a relief. Students here are more used to see “us” and don’t stare as much at the blond me. Some even come to talk to you but my experience are mostly weirdos lol anyway don’t get the idea I’m being segregated it’s not but you are never feel as part of the larger group.

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Pic of the Day!

 

Found this at the supermarket today. anyone wants some? lol
Posted in Food | 1 Comment

Truc Art Exhibition

Hi Guys! :P

I have been EXTREMELY busy as always. Nevertheless I’m taking a moment to share about this exhibition I went to. It’s not really “traditional” art however it was the most fun I had at an exhibition. The Truc art exhibition refers to super realism in which artists express two-dimensional objects in three-dimensional ways.

Exhibitions are comprised of art that falls mostly into five categories that focus on the reinterpretation of famous works of art, and coexistence with animals and nature. People can also enjoy taking part in art, famous movie scenes, and optical illusions through the displays. That’s why it was so much fun, to actually be an integral part of art itself. ^^

Oh and I finally found a nice way to organize my pictures online. Thanks to http://www.snugmug.com. I`m still testing it but so far so good. So please go to this link to see my album from that exhibition and enjoy!

Truc Art Exhibition Gallery Link

http://cdn.smugmug.com/swfs/badge/flashbadge.swf?introMode=fadein&autorepeat=true&gridRows=3&gridColumns=4&gridSpacing=1&gridDelay=2&autoHideDelay=4&slideshowDelay=4&autostart=true&aboutlink=&sharelink=&background=%23000000&displayMode=full&useLargeImages=true&albumID=16405389&albumKey=nivSQ&order=norandom&width=200&feedType=&nickName=kosmik&height=200&BadgeHost=cdn.smugmug.com&showCaptions=false

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Protests in North Korea

 

Last week we got report of the first public protest in North Korea against their communist dictatorship.


North Koreans are not stupid and do not think they haven’t protested before, however this is a first since they kept their mouth shut and covered each other. Usually the pressure and fear of punishment from the state makes people tell on each other at some point.


According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, citing a North Korean source, demonstrations broke out on 14 February, two days before Kim Jong-il’s birthday, in the cities of Jongju, Yongchon and Sonchon, not far from the border of China. The State Security Department (the all-powerful agency under Kim Jong-il’s direct control) investigated the incident but failed to identify the people who started the commotion when they met with a wall of silence.

“When such an incident took place in the past, people used to report their neighbours to the security forces, but now they’re covering for each other,” the source said.

Solidarity! Solidarity! ^^

Why now?
Of course different factors are at play. Some evoke the wave of protest from the Mideast reaching as far as hermit North Korea.  Obviously, the country’s worsening economic situation plays a crucial role. People are dying even more than before, famines everywhere. Furthermore others say North Koreans do not approve of the younger Kim and are trying to stop the succession. Korean sources told AsiaNews that this represents a crack in the prevailing mindset. The younger Kim is “feared by the population,” the source said. “He is viewed as bloodthirsty and mad”.

 

“Almost everyone thinks he was behind the military attacks against ROKS Cheonan and an island under South Korean control, which led to restrictions on humanitarian aid from the South. This has further worsened standards of living in the North. North Koreans are ready to do just about anything to stop the succession.” 

South Koreans Role
The South Koreans are trying to incite the anti-dictatorship protests.  Last Friday they sent leaflets explaining the situation and fight for democracy in Egypt and Libya to try to incite North Koreans to rebel against their government. The leaflets, as well as food and medicines, were dropped from the sky, tied to time-programmed balloons which could automatically release the items above the target areas in North Korea.


The defense ministry of South Korea declined to confirm about the recent move. They have a policy to not commenting any sensitive issue dealing with the North.

Analysts said that it would be difficult for North Koreans to emulate the anti-government protests in Egypt or Libya as their government have a tight control over communication and movement of the people.
Yesterday, North Korea threatened military actions over the South encouragements. They said they  will fire across a land border with South Korea if Seoul continues its anti-North psychological campaign.

“We officially notify that our army will stage a direct fire at the Rimjin Pavilion and other sources of the anti-DPRK psychological warfare to destroy them on the principle of self-defense, if such actions last despite our repeated warning.”

The Rimjin Pavilion is an area in South Korea near the heavily armed Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) which separates the two Koreas.
Hopefully, North Koreans will be liberated one way or another.  I’m not quite sure it will be soon even if the recent events are helping. I just wish for their and our safety. When I refer to North Koreans I mean the common people not the leaders.  They can die.


Sources:

http://www.boncherry.com/blog/2011/02/24/north-korea-protest/

http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=49154&t=North+Korea%3A+++First+public+protests+against+the+Kims%92+regime

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/02/24/2011022401282.html

http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCATRE71Q0EO20110227?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/First-public-protests-against-the-Kims%E2%80%99-regime-20861.html

Posted in North Korea | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments