Saturday, August 30, 2008

Summer Wrap-Up: Korea

I've arrived in Delaware after ~20 hours of travel: 13 from Seoul-
Incheon to Atlanta, a 2.5 hour stopover in the A (pause), then 3 hours
from Atl to Philly. Yesterday morning, I was in Korea; the morning
before that, 北京.

The next day and a half will be spent with my family, then I'll be
heading out tomorrow afternoon back to New Haven... It's been a
long while since I saw the city.

The pictures below are the beginnings of the final cap to my summer's

A day out with students

As the summer SAT courses wound down, there were several times spent
getting together with my students before their return to the States.

One Saturday, I met a group of my students who had finished classes
the previous Friday. We assembled in the late morning at La Festa and
hit up an arcade to play some shooting games, etc. After the arcade,
they were hungry, so we went to one of the many snack restaurants
scattered around the area.

With students
A restaurant specifically dedicated to ramen and variations thereof.

After lunch, we considered our options: seeing as how I had to leave
in a couple hours for Gangnam (to meet Gabe), we settled on spending
the remainder of our time together at a Karaoke room/노래방 on the
3rd floor of the mall called 喜story/History that turned out to be a real
bad (bad like Michael Jackson Bad, not poor test results bad) option:
15000KRW for 1.5 hours of Korean, English, and Chinese music,
including free ice cream.

The room we got included a drum set and some shiny marble floors/

yeah, yeah.

Shut up i know what i look like

Brian and Gabriel

with students 2
After we finished our time at the KTV, my students walked me over
to the Jeongbalsan subway stop, where we parted ways one last time.
On the way, we stopped to converse with an overly enthusiastic stilt-

A good day.

Church with Brother Lee

My pastor's old Navigators discipler, from his days of working at a
bank in Seoul, still lives in town, near Sinimun/Hankuk University.
Twice I made the journey over to Sinimun on Sunday morning to join
the Navigators meeting in Sinimun; the second time, Brother Lee
invited me to dessert at his house after lunch and before church. We
ate some fancy fruit (an expensive, if not outright exotic, luxury in

Me and Mr
Brother Lee and me.

Me and Mrs
With Mrs. Lee.

A weekend with James

One weekend shortly before I left Korea, my good friend James Kim,
a sophomore at Yale and UCW, arrived in Korea to remain for a short
stint with his extended family still living in 충무로, having recently
wrapped up his summer program in China (the very same as that
which I attended two years ago at 首师大). On August 15, a Korean
national holiday, I went into the city to spend the afternoon/evening
with James.
(all pictures taken from James' excellent blog post)

After spending some time catching up in his hotel room (provided
gratis by his uncle), we decided to see The Dark Knight - me for the
second time and James for the first - then spend the evening
discussing the theology and worldview presented therein.

There exists a similar picture of James in the same pose. For some
reason, he has not posted it.

Waiting around for the movie to begin, James and I noted a sign in the
lobby for "Magical Rose Garden" on the 7th floor of the multiplex.
Intrigued, James and I headed up; I was looking forward to failure, but
found, instead, precisely the vision conjured up by such a title: a floor-
sized expanse of 五颜六色 roses, with seating, couches, and swinging
loveseats scattered liberally but discreetly throughout.

Explaining... something?


My uniform for the summer: plain white Hanes tee, rigid Levi's 501
raw denim, black/white Puma clydes, and my red Gap satchel. All
courtesy of Yale's famous blue bins.

After the conclusion of the movie, James and I spent some time in the
lobby-adjacent Starbucks, breaking down the themes and motifs of the
film; afterwards, emerging onto the cool nighttime streets of Seoul, we
were confronted with the spectacle of a mass of Korean humanity
marching in waves of 10- or 12-abreast. Pausing to watch, we were
further engrossed as marchers continued to stream past, chanting for
the impeachment and removal of the wildly unpopular President Lee
Myung-Bak (이명박/李明博).

Of course, having already invested such time, James and I were
compelled to continue on to their ultimate objective. With the end of
the procession still out-of-sight, we walked alongside, then were
swallowed up by, the marchers, for a good 15 minutes.

As the march drew nearer to the city center, it paused for some time
to finally allow traffic to pass. The heavy humidity turned gradually
into a light drizzling rain, and James and I found other diversions
with which to entertain ourselves.

A group of b-boys blasted breakbeats in a nearby mall atrium, while
small groups of teenaged girls lip-synched on a nearby stage,
contorting pubescent bodies in a simulation of the latest K-pop videos.

Afterwards, James and I wandered through the malls, a fair
approximation of the Chinese 市场 to which we were both well
familiarized. He tried 讲价 a few times, coming away with a t-shirt and
tie, while I surreptitiously noted and critiqued the relative quality of
Korean and Chinese fake goods/假货. We then walked the half-mile or so
back to James' uncle's hotel in the cool dankness of the Korean post-
precipitation starlight, ending the night with praise songs.

And that's it for my Korean summer: the last few memories in Korea
proper remaining yet unchronicled. Next post: my Beijing vacation and
subsequent travels (3 countries in 3 days).

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