August 29th, 2010
I was fifteen minutes early for the 1:30 meeting time of our 등롱 lantern bearer group, the entire group was told to be there at 2:00. 장규식 Jang Gyushik was there slightly afterwards, with 김밥 kimbap. I had eaten 삼각김밥 samgak kimbap on the walk, so I guess we were both thinking alike. Karjam, on the other hand, was able to go back to the Lotte complex, look around and eat lunch slowly. Eventually the whole 등롱 lantern bearer group arrived and we rehearsed. Everyone in costume, we waited in the practice room, I sat with 이수환 Yi Suhwan on one side of me but within the circle of lantern bearers including 탄종원 Tan Jongwon, 장규식 Jang Gyushik and 서범무 Seo Byeongmu. There are 8 lantern bearers, the other three men I don’t know, the other woman’s name I forget. First they had to use an iphone to determine exactly where I’m from (right down to Snowberry Lane), then they searched for the homes of overseas relatives and what not. Suhwan, on the other hand, was more concerned with discussing traditional culture and social media platforms (he’s a recent Facebook joiner) as a path to disseminate information. That evening he uploaded a bunch of photos of himself performing with reasonably extensive captions about Songpa Sandae Noli. There was a different show first, starting at 3, a drumming and fusion drumming with vaguely traditional dance. I barely watched any, but Karjam saw the whole thing.
When we went out to do Songpa Dari Balpgi the music was so much louder (with amplification) than it had been the day before that it was very hard to hear the directions and counting (turn around after 1, 2, 3, 4…) and eventually I did make a (not too important) mistake. Everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun except for one particularly articulate member, 김명하 Kim Myeongha, who has a perpetual hangdog expression and had injured his wrist in rehearsal the day before. I expected us to go out afterwards, we didn’t, instead people just changed out of their (sweat soaked) performance clothes, putting special costume items (I had a top knot hairdo, a hat and a sort of vest) and props (lantern and lantern rod) into the appropriate containers. While I was changing and what not Karjam started talking to Seo Byeongmu who can speak English, he's a really interesting guy, but he specifically wanted to tell Karjam that his brother observes Tibetan Buddhism and the location of a temple, they also discussed the fact that Byeongmu's nephew is Tiger JK of Drunken Tiger. We also talked with 이병옥 Yi Byeongok, because Yeongsuk insists he should find Karjam performing opportunities. I came home in the evening and wrote up a short bio for Karjam in Korean and wonderful friend 정회정 Jeong Hoijeong edited it.
The next morning Yeongsuk called to ask my bank account number so she can pay me for the performance. I am not sure what I will do about getting paid, I’m thinking I should just give it all back at the end of the year, because it’s too exhausting to argue each rehearsal and performance. Plus I haven’t won any of the arguments so far. It’s not much, though.