Sunday, August 7, 2011

Miyal Performance at Pungryu Theatre

July 28th, 2011
We had class with a little extra Bongsan Talchum practice for the students.

July 29th, 2011
My friend from K-Arts, 기영 Giyeong, helped me find someone to teach the students Korean court dance, the very nice이은솔 Yi Eunsol. The students were sort of amazed how difficult what looked like simple motions actually was to do.

The last performance in the series of mask dance drama performances was on "Miyal" (the old grandmother). I went directly to Pungryu Theatre after class, talking with the Bongsan Talchum performers a bit (although the focus for the evening was Eunyul Talchum). The show was good, but again, it was awkward to be combining the different dramas (Eunyul, Gangnyeong, Bongsan) into one show. I was surprised that Abigail and Amada came. After the show I took them and Sumi out for jeon and makgeolli. I think I'm converting my students to a big love of Korean arts! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Quick Last Trip to Daegu

July 26th, 2011
Because I assigned the students to do several things outside of class time (and they're in vacation mode) I had written in this day as a day off of class. So I headed out in the morning for Daegu—carrying a heavy tub of things to leave at Jinhong and Georgy's house. After some lunch I headed to 신라합기도체육관 Shilla Hapkido Studio, where I trained from 4 until just after 10, then rushed back to Georgy and Jinhong's. At Hapkido all was well with the world—the kids were cute (and a bunch of yellow belts in the late afternoon decided I was a seat, so every time I sat down they rushed to sit on my legs and lean their adorable little heads trustingly against me—they were also imps that were hard to keep in control but my overall impression was cute as could be. 박형건 Bak Hyeong-geun, my little brother, arrived in the early evening and we ate dinner with the 관장님 instructor, 김유림 Kim Yurim. The workout was pretty intense and I spent a good two hours just practicing nun-chucks so I was really surprised that I wasn't totally destroyed by the end of the day, but it was fine. Jinhong, Georgy and I had a little 막걸리 makgeolli party, except Georgy doesn't actually like it. Anyway, Jinhong made a bunch of jeon which was eaten with gusto.

July 27th, 2011
I hung out with Georgy and Jinhong all morning, then stopped by my glasses place quick before Hapkido (they'll send me a new pair of prescription sunglasses to Seoul). It was a really good time at Hapkido again, I will miss everyone there, and the instructor, even though I didn't get a chance to spend much time there this year.

I took the KTX train (Georgy can get really great discounts during the week) back to Seoul and got home around 1 a.m.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bongsan Talchum Milestone

July 23rd, 2011
I had a relaxing day—the big action was to meet Tommy (a UCLA grad friend) for coffee as he was visiting Seoul. Otherwise I worked on my computer all day.

July 24th, 2011
I didn't do much on Sunday except work on the computer, but I went to 정회정 Jung Hoijung's favorite coffee shop near her house and we worked there.

July 25th, 2011
At Dankook University today we had a good class. I decided to just lecture (no PPT) based off a section of the background (discussing heritage protection systems) of my dissertation- then students led a short discussion of the articles and we practiced 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum. I went straight from class to 선릉 Seolleung where I met Jisoo. We had dinner and she walked me to the training center where I had Bongsan Talchum class. Today class was awesome AGAIN. I will miss practicing Bongsan Talchum more than almost anything when I get back to LA. First it was awesome because again we had a large number of people- 18- including two brand new people. We did the 8 dark-faced monks as solo dances, and I did the 3rd monk as usual and I made NO MISTAKES in my dance or in the monologue, a day I have been waiting and waiting for. Yes! I felt like I had vanquished a personal mountain, but many of the long term friends in the class knew how I felt about it and were happy for me. We have a college student in class and his mom is also attending (she's really sweet) and she invited us ALL out after class. We went to a restaurant and everyone (except me) had beer and various meaty dishes. The energy amongst everyone was just terrific. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Everyone Watched a Mask Dance Drama Performance

July 21st, 2011
At Dankook University the lesson plan for the day included showing the students the movie Seopyeonje which everyone should watch as it's fabulous, so I started out with a lecture orienting them to types of vocal music with extra emphasis on pansori (the subject of the movie). I think they really enjoyed it.

In the evening I met up with Kathy and Tim again and we went to the Dragon Hill Spa (찜질방) which was awesome, of course. They were quite impressed and really appreciative of the awesomeness that is Korean bathhouse culture.

July 22nd, 2011
Prof. Hilary Finchum-Sung came to guest lecture to the class. Not knowing the route to Dankook University I met her at 강남 Gangnam Station and we took the bus together. This meant we had lots of time to chat, yay! She's far enough into her career to have great advice, but new enough to not have outdated information or have forgotten what you really need to know when you're at my stage. She gave a great lecture to the students—her focus was globalization in Korean music, talking about whether fusion is Korean music, for example, but she gave a good solid overview of Korean music before she got to the point of the lecture. Although I had taught the students lots of the same stuff, the reality is that they are being hit with tons of brand new words, an entire world of things they knew nothing about two weeks ago, so a solid well-organized review was great for them. Also she brought her 해금 haegeum with her and demonstrated different types of music on the instrument.  

For the end of class we discussed one out of two planned articles, then practiced 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum motions. The students are getting better and better. I rode back to Seoul with Hilary and went straight to 선릉역. I drank coffee and worked on my computer until it was time to meet Kathy. We briefly walked through the park at the royal tombs, then met Tim and ate dinner before the mask dance drama performance for the evening.
Not the best cell phone photo of Kathy

The performance was the third in this series where they are combining different arts on themes. The theme was 노장, the old monk. Oddly 북청사자놀음 Bukcheong Saja Noleum showed their monk dance, then we saw the 은율탈춤 Eunyul Talchum old monk scene, or the start of it anyway. It felt very choppy and artificial and honestly the other two were not displayed well in comparison... Last there was about an hour of 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum. The performance included the 8목중 8 dark-faced monks plus the entire old monk scene all the way through the shoe seller and 취발이 Chuibali. 8 students from Dankook had come (6 of mine and 2 others) and they all enjoyed it. After they show they took photos with some of the performers, then I said bye to my friends who were there and Tim, Kathy and I had a drink before saying good-bye until who knows when. 

All the Office Managers of the Mask Dance Drama Association Meet (and I get to attend!)

July 19th, 2011
On Tuesday I met Kathy and 수미 Sumi from 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum class at Seoul Stn and we three caught the bus to 단국대 Dankook University together. Outside campus we found that 허창열 Heo Changyeol, 황민왕 Hwang Minwang and 유세정 Yu Sejeong were running late. We started on lunch first but ordered for them and ended the meal together.

The class went really well, particularly at first. Changyeol is one of the most charismatic people I know, and despite his lack of ability to speak English he did a brilliant job. First he introduced the four basic percussion instruments to the students and taught them to speak the four different parts to 자진모리장단 jajinmori rhythmic pattern. After that he gave them a chance to play each of the instruments in turn. Every single student played every single instrument, although at times this was somewhat painful to the ears, Changyeol kept a giant smile on his face and the students loved the experience. He also tried to communicate the basic idea of Korean dance, having them move in a circle with bended knees and raised arms and feeling and responding to the music. This was not so successful, but everyone had fun anyway. Afterwards Changyeol performed 문둥북춤 Mundung Bukchum from고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae. He was brilliant, of course, because he's one of the most talented mask dancers I have ever seen. Yes, Changyeol deserves the superlatives. Next was Hwang Minwang's turn in the spotlight. Minwang is much more quiet and reserved than Changyeol but he's an amazing artist. He's an isuja for Namhaean Byeolshin'gut (shamanic ritual), as a specialist in music, not as a shaman. He talked about folk songs from around Korea and sang selections of folk songs and then sang shamanic ritual songs from different areas as well as demonstrating the 태평소 taepyeongso. It was really great.

Sumi, Kathy and I were heading in a different direction than Changyeol and Minhwang who had to drive Sejeong home before they'd go back to Seoul, so we separated after class. I ended up walking around central Seoul with Kathy, we met up with her fiancé, Tim, who I also know from LA and had a wonderful dinner.

July 20th, 2011
On my day "off" I was very fortunate to have been asked if I'd like to attend a meeting of all the office managers from all the mask dance groups in Korea—the meeting was happening at 은율탈춤 Eunyul Talchum's office in Incheon—and 김영숙, 탄종원 picked me up so we could go together. I received clear proof that I was widely trusted -- I was worried that although escorted to the meeting by Songpa Sandae Noli's office manager that I would be kicked out at the start or before sensitive discussion, however when we arrived (somewhat late) it was to a flurry of jokes about whether I was the Songpa Sandae Noli American-branch representative or if I represented the interests of all Korean mask dance dramas in America. I stayed for the entire five hour (including excellent lunch) meeting which in addition to painfully choosing the date for an all group inclusive festival also covered financial details pertaining to the association (I even left with photocopies specifying expenditures) and contained frank information sharing and strategizing for future performances and festivals. I was allowed to record the entire meeting, contribute views and fact check.

In the evening I met 정회정 Jung Hoijung for dinner and a work session in a café near her house—we ignored each other most of the time and worked intensively on separate projects. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gyeongbok Palace and Patbingsu

July 17th, 2011
I worked on the computer in the morning then went to meet 박연식 Bak Yeonshik (from Bongsan Talchum) and his friend Haeri. She knows a ton about 경복궁 Gyeongbok Palace and palace architecture etc in general and she gave us a personalized awesome tour. There were so many things she explained I wish I had known when Aimee, Hengyi Shr and my mom were visiting. Unfortunately the sun was baking (okay, at least it was sunny!) and I was in a tank top and I became horribly sunburned.

We went to a really great 팟빙수 (shaved ice) place and I had one made with Omija, which is my absolute favorite flavor, but I've never seen it offered for shaved ice before!

I had a date with 세정 Sejeong at 5:30 but showed up at Namsan Hanok Village early, allowing me thirty minutes of happy dancing and photography with my Gaejeonyeon and other 임실필봉농악 Imshil Pilbong Nongak people. Sweaty I joined Sejeong, who was feeling very physically exhausted, and we decided to have dinner and then watched the latest Harry Potter film. Afterwards we had a long discussion of her problems with finding the proper focus for her studies.

July 18th, 2011
I went to teach at Dankook University, and it was a fairly good day except that it was the day to introduce both mask dance dramas and pungmul music to the students, plus go over two readings and have a discussion related to teaching and learning traditional arts. Of course we also had to have our time to practice 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum but most of the group was complaining that they hurt all weekend after practice on Friday. That's cause we're at the point in the basic motions routine where we squat and jump into the air repeatedly. It is both exhausting and for people with lame squat muscles, painful the next day.

After class I took the bus to 강남 Gangnam instead of near home and just went straight to the training center. I asked 장용일 Jang Yongil a few questions related to research and talked with him and the office manager and then headed to class. Today 김은주 Kim Eunju was back. It was so much easier to have class with her that all night the students kept calling out loudly "you're so great!" and "what an excellent teacher" etc. when she didn't make us repeat motions to the end of the routine (when they're all the same anyway). We had 16 students. 17 or 16 every class while Jang was teaching, too, even though every time someone or the other is absent. But my sunburn had me exhausted and weak and I did a terrible job all night. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yeonshik Guest Teaches Class

July 15th, 2011
Class went really well today. First we had reading presentations, the readings were really tough but the students who were presenting did a great job and I feel like everyone ended up understanding the important points.

Then 박연식 Bak Yeonshik, my friend from 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum evening class came to present. First he gave a short lecture on the difference between singing styles from Namdo, Gyeonggi and Seodo and then he taught them to mouth the rhythmic pattern Jungmori Jangdan. After that he had them learn to sing Ganggang Sulrae. Then they sat down to the four janggu he'd brought and learned to drum and sing the song. They had a lot of fun. Yeonshik presented his own drumming skills to them (impressive) and last of all he drummed so they could practice Bongsan Talchum with a drum for once. It was really good, I think they all enjoyed it.

In the evening I wanted to go see the performance at 풍류극장 Pungryu Geukjang but I had been convinced by 최해리 Choi Haeri to see a show with her instead. It was basically horrible! All dance, including two modernish dance and one new traditional dance plus classics, the best performance was definitely the 태평무 Taepyeongmu which I've seen so darn many times it was also kind of boring. Not the best dancer, just the best in the show.

July 16th, 2011
I stayed home and worked on the computer, went to Chans Bros and did the same, then came home and did more work. That's all. Laundry. Cooking. Cleaning. Okay NOW that's all. 

Baramgot Performance

July 14th, 2011
Had class at Dankook University, the day started to feel like we were establishing a routine as a group, and we knew that we wouldn't have any more membership changes—our group is Amada, Caitlin (Theatre major), Chiayu, Hai, Abigail, Jessica (our only person with Korean heritage) and Alyssa. They're all really sweet. It's hard for some of them to do the type of reading I have assigned because they're not from the humanities, but they're all doing a great job trying. And they are learning the Bongsan Talchum motions faster than I expected, especially Hai.

In the evening I went to see 바람곳 Baramgot, a mixed fusion gugak group. Won Il is the artistic director and he plays 피리 piri and percussion for the group. There is also a 거문고 geomungo player, a 가야금 gayageum player, and a 대금 daegeum player, but the part that fascinates me and the songs I enjoyed the most were when they incorporated sitar (the sitar player also played percussion. The music was rather intellectual, and I definitely preferred certain pieces, esp. with the sitar, but it was all interesting. And there was a great guest performance by a group called 유희 spelled U-(hee) which I think is stupid, but whatever. They're all Korean National University of the Arts graduates, all from the 연희학과 Folk Theatre Department. At the show I coincidentally ran into Lisa Kim Davis with a friend and also 기영 Giyeong. After the show I gave Won Il one of Karjam's CDs and we talked a bit more about him coming to play in Korea in October.

K-pop for July

I haven’t written any K-pop reviews in forever.

First: Mina's "Toy Boy." You can't expect much from a song with the chorus "just like a toy boy" performed by a woman who tries hard to show nearly every inch of her skin (it is summer…) but still, it is a song. Therefore the absolutely weak vocals delivered with no power or energy (but a huge amount of electronic help that we can tell is needed), well, I'd just say this is a pass.
MBLAQ, a group always worth watching for the eye-candy and the Rain-ish dance moves, has released "Mona Lisa" earlier this week. It's not a perfect release. I won't be listening to it over and over, but it's not bad, either. It's got a hint of a Latin feel in parts, something that appears in several of MBLAQ's previous releases as well. If only they'd get rid of Thunder's lame rap it'd be a B+ effort. Seungho is still my favorite, but his hair looks like it was fried and then dyed in this video, whereas for the first time GO is starting to look attractive (Jun ALWAYS looks hot, of course and Mir is a cutey, too). And I must admit dance moves where men grab their crotches is so much better than when women do it.

GP Basic is a pretty new group, this release is called "Jelly Pop."  It's nothing special, just regular old electronic Korean dance music without strong singing or interesting lyrics. And for some reason all the members have died hair (orange trying to be blond). And the dance motions are in some cases too sexual for a group with such young members. The one cool part of the video is the clapping section (unfortunately the music takes over the clapping beat, we don't get to see them continue to beat the rhythm themselves).
Kim Hyun-joong's "Kiss Kiss"  is the most annoying type of video, the type where they just use footage from the person's "star" life and put the song over it. There are a few things probably shot for the video, but mostly it's crazy fans, stage scenes and Hyun-joong going here and there. Boring. The song is okay but too soft for my tastes. If I watch it again, it's only because he's total eye candy. Still I prefer SS501's faster tracks over this.
DBSK/ TVXQ (동방신기) has released their latest song, "Superstar,"  it's a Japanese release (unfortunately), but hot dance moves and catchy. I hope the long version is even better (this is still the short version). Also I find the video very washed-out looking. I want more contrast and more color.

Finally, even though it came out nearly a month ago, 2NE1's latest, "I am the Best."  The song isn't the best, but the visuals in the video are as usual absolutely awesome. And I have been listening to it consistently since it was released. But you know it bothers me that 2NE1 incorporates Korean 삼고무 (3 drum dance) –after—it's already been incorporated by a Western artist, Shakira, on "I Did it Again" (you can really see the drums on this live performance video). Neither Shakira nor 2NE1 did the drummers the favor of using them in a way that the drummers could really show their stuff and contribute to the audio, not just the visual, but… oh well. 

See the Drums on each side of the pyramid?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mirong Performance

July 13th, 2011
Wednesday is the day I don't have to teach at Dankook University. I was still plenty busy. I went to Joong-ang University and met professor Im Janghyeok again, he had some research center publications (not sold in bookstores, just like reports) I wanted to photocopy that he'd had at home the first time I went to see him. I think I like him (esp. after he suggested I should come to Joong-ang for a post-doc).

I went to meet Hilary Finchum-Sung to watch a performance of 미롱 "Mirong: Joseon Dynasty Dance Theatre" or something like that. It's not the type of show I normally go see (or Hilary) but 광대 The Gwangdae (one of 허창열 Heo Changyeol's groups) are a major part of the show, so we chose to go to support them. It was a love story between the adopted son of a court dance troupe and the female lead. The adopted father is pissed off by the love and cuts off the penis of the adopted son (played by 영욱 Yeong-uk one of the awesome Gwangdae players). The girl (who also sings) then cuts off her tongue after he leaves. The adopted son ends up joining the Gwangdae group and after the adopted father dies (of a stroke many years later) the two lovers meet by chance one more time. Yes, the story was that simple and since there was virtually no dialogue… and the court dance was boring- not much to look at, I was almost falling asleep except for when the Gwangdae were performing. And it was almost two hours long and 30,000 won (or 20,000 for students). I don't see why Koreans think this type of show is the way to go. The story could barely hold things together and part of the acting sections (such as when father is angry at the dancers for not doing it right and only praising the one girl) were just annoying. I don't want to listen to someone ragging on someone else for that long. It's just not pleasant. They couldn't really do much court dance, and what they did was most like 춘앵전 Chunaengjeon which is a freaking boring dance under any conditions. For the price I honestly think that most people just go the Gwangdae's performance out of it, and they could have done the performance themselves with their own (more complex) story and no wasted boring time on the court dance.

Anyway it's a 17 day run so I think it means the Gwangdae get a decent paycheck, and that's what I care about. After the show we ended up having dinner with Changyeol. It was good to be able to see Hilary and Changyeol, even if the show was a bit of a dud.

I had to go to the train station to pick up cupcakes (fresh baked and vegan!) sent me by Georgy (what a great friend), and as I was transferring trains I ran into 영훈 Yeonghun, a guy who lived two floors below me in 2003-4 school year at Lanzhou University!!! That was random and bizarre.

Dankook University Class Begins

July 10th, 2011
I had a big staff meeting, meet the students, lunch event thing at Dankook University. Nothing much of any research related interest.

July 11th, 2011
I was really worried about how many students I'd get and also worried some of them might be just shopping around. We talked about the class, did an exercise to create a cultural literacy test for Korea, I gave a short lecture and we had our first practice of Bongsan Talchum. It seems I have seven students (two more were just checking out the class).

July 12th, 2011
The second day of class went much more smoothly as I wasn't worrying about who or how many would show up and just focused on teaching my lesson. I hadn't assigned anyone to present on the reading so I had prepared to foster a discussion myself—but only a couple of them had read it. I promptly assigned the rest of the readings to different students. At the end of class Abigail brought a friend in from another classroom and the girl, Jessica, asked to join my class as she'd fallen asleep in her other class. Abigail assured her it wouldn't happen in my class. The frustration for the day was finding out that they still hadn't made my reader, because they'd given me the originals the previous day—why did you give them back to me when I took them to you over a week ago, you could have just kept them! 

In the evening I went to a lecture on Buddhism by Robert Buswell, an amazing UCLA Buddhist studies professor who I really like. I just wanted to see him, fortunately since the talk didn't have much new (to me) information in it. He is an excellent speaker, though. 

Last Songpa Sandae Noli Practice

July 9th, 2011

In the morning I worked on the computer in Starbucks with Lisa Kim Davis, an awesome UCLA professor currently doing some fieldwork in Korea.

We had our last 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli meeting for the first half of the year, first with a rehearsal and then with a meeting moving on to an early dinner. The entire day was not what I had expected.

When I arrived in the room it was half full of an extended family from Vancouver (two sisters and their families) all of Hong Kong descent. 함완식 Ham Sr. had met them outside and they'd been sad there wasn't a Saturday show (they stopped having Saturday shows a couple years ago) so Ham brought them in, he lectured them on Songpa Sandae Noli and when I arrived made me translate. Then he taught them some of the dance motions. It was all very awkward as other members kept arriving and they were NOT amused by the presence of random foreigners. This clearly illustrates Ham's personality, though. That and the kind of things he was saying to them (many of which I changed in translation because in English they just sounded like bragging) and his push for them (random people not connected to performance) to find the group an opportunity to perform in Vancouver.

So by the time they left we didn't really have any time for us to practice (I used a few minutes to get some info from the office manager). The meeting was started around 4 and over in 10 minutes, most of what was being discussed was a big all-mask-dance-group meeting in Andong in August (which has now been changed to Incheon in July). So it was 4:20 and people were leaving to eat, but they were going to a type of food I don't eat and dislike the smell and it was only 4:20 and I wasn't remotely hungry. So I didn't go.

Instead I had coffee with 이경호 Yi Gyeongho, an awesome friend of the last ten years or so since I first met him in Thailand. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lion Dance

July 8th, 2011
On Friday, back in Seoul, my most important activity was to go to a performance at 풍류극장 Pungryu Theatre. Before that, however, I went to the first hour of 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum class. I love it when 장용일 teaches because, I realized, he's much harder on me and on all of us, so my skills progress faster when he's teaching than the rest of the time. He had ordered (on Monday) that all the new people  needed to show up early and that 병호 Byeongho had to show up early and teach them. But then as they mostly were doing pretty well, another guy showed up who didn't know anything. I taught him, which was good practice for my upcoming class. He learned super super fast, too, as he's a theatre major with some movement background. We ran through the first several monks (in order with monologue) and then I had to leave for the Pungryu Theatre downstairs.

They're currently staging a mask dance drama series, organized around themes. The theme for Friday was lion dance, and the main performance was by 북청사자놀음 Bukcheong Saja Noleum's preservation association. Eunyul Talchum and Bongsan Talchum also joined them on stage a little. As the Bukcheong Saja Noleum friends were performing they kept noticing me in my center front seat and nodding or giving me a grin. I really have gotten to know quite a lot of them. After the show I went to their office and congratulated everyone. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

World Festival of Sacred Music

Is everyone getting excited for the World Festival of Sacred Music, 2011, in Los Angeles! I know I am! Karjam will be performing with Chaksam-pa, a Tibetan group, on the 16th of October at 2pm. The performance is free, but make reservations!!!!


Here's the link to the festival and the information on Karjam's performance.

A Trip to Goseong

July 6th, 2011
There is not much time before I leave for the US- just a couple days more than a month- and during most of that time I'll be teaching the intensive class and my time and movements will be restricted by that, hence I'm running around the country this week. Today I've departed Seoul for 고성 Goseong to see all the lovely folks at 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae. The trip down to Goseong is about securing my relationship with the group and group members, demonstrating my relationship/close connection to/with the group.

When I arrived I decided to walk to the training center, but about half way there the rain decided to come down rather fiercely. I arrived a bit wet and bedraggled but the office manager was very sweet and drove me to where the people who were practicing 말뚝이 malddugi were. When I arrived there I found that 동근 Donggeun was teaching—which was a bit of a problem as his motions are not exact nor his knowledge very concrete. I followed along with the three students and around 4:00 동수 Dongsu, one of the isuja showed up but he didn't have any time to teach us, only to monitor. We went back to the training center and I talked to the office manager, hung out, went to eat dinner, came back, took a nap, then practiced from around 8 until 10. The interesting thing in the evening was that there was a young man, 신경환 Shin Gyeonghwan, of obvious performing talent, there practicing as well. He had previously attended one of the schools that had sent participants to the camp, but had now graduated and was working as an elementary school teacher about an hour's drive away from Goseong. Elementary school is still in session, so he had come for the evening's practice. I immediately asked him if he was a jeonsuja because of his obvious talent and depth of knowledge, but he told me that he was already a member of another art: the regionally certified 정읍농악 Jeongeup Nongak. He had been performing with them for quite some time and he explained that he performed on all the instruments and on 소고 sogo. During evening practice (which ended at 10 pm) there were still performers present and working with the students: very impressive.

황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk, the manager of the group, finally showed up and although it had been arranged for me to stay with one of the rooms full of girls in the old dormitory, he invited me back to his house. Actually Koreans do not lightly invite people to their homes, I was very touched. I liked his wife and his daughter (I didn't see the son much as we got there after 11). We shared some makgeolli and fruit and vegetables.

July 7th, 2011
I woke up when the house started stirring at 7 (which was also before my alarm), and managed to wake my mind up fast enough not to be stumbling around in a haze in someone else's house. Hwang Jong'uk and I went back to the training center, but nothing started until nearly 10 (I was very surprised). During the almost an hour wait I stretched and then fell asleep stretching, stretched some more and fell back asleep and so on until I got tired of waiting and went looking for the teachers. Downstairs I found 전광열 Jeon Gwangyeol, the teacher for 말뚝이 Malddugi but unfortunately he didn't stick around (although he did say that since he'd seen me, it really was a good morning). Instead while the 원양반 Won Yangban crew had their own teacher and 문둥북춤 Mundung Bukchum had their own teacher and of course Act 5 had their own teacher, we ended up with 동수 Dongsu who was split between helping us and helping 승무 Seungmu with assistance from 동근 Donggeun. At last we learned to the end of the dance and I even started to feel like I'd memorized big chunks of it.

At lunch time 이윤석 Yi Yunseok (the National Human Treasure) showed up and we went to lunch (the secretary, Yi, 이재훈, 남진도 and 허종원). I honestly found the food barely palatable. I couldn't even drink the water as the cup smelled very strangely like fish to such an extent that I couldn't raise the cup to my lips. Oh well. It was about be able to see everyone. Dongsu did not go to lunch with us because his wife was due yesterday and home alone, so he went home to see her and brought her back to the center in the afternoon. They went to the hospital and the hospital told her the baby wasn't ready to be born yet. Before they went to the hospital, though, he taught Act 2 and sketched out Act 3 to the students. After that everyone was just practicing for the acts which isn't very interesting to me… so I worked on my computer in the corner of the room and finally decided to go back to Seoul. I left the training center just after 5. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Needless Trip to Anseong

July 5th, 2011
I woke up early and took a bus to 안성 Anseong to go to interview a professor, Im Janghyeok, at Jung'ang University. Unfortunately it turns out that there are two campuses for Jung'ang University (and Anseong isn't even the main campus). Professor Im is located on the Seoul campus. I could have woken up at 9 and had breakfast and still been on time for the interview. Needless to say I was frustrated, pissed off and felt rather embarrassed. Everyone I know who attends Jung'ang University is on the campus in Anseong, another professor I need to interview is on that campus (he's 이종휘 Yi Jonghui's main professor and I keep talking with Jonghui about going to Anseong to interview him) and I even (in January 2005) once taught a two week intensive class on that campus. Jung'ang University in Seoul is on Line 9, the brand new line that I took for the first time after coming back to the Express Bus Terminal from Anseong. I had never even gone in the neighborhood of Seoul Jung'ang University before. Oh well. As it turned out the professor had time all day, so I was able to meet him, we had lunch (small and bland) and then talked in his office for around an hour.

It was not the best interview. I went to talk to him because 최해리 Choi Haeri recommended that I talk to him—and I really didn't know how talking to him could be helpful, I was just sort of following the road that opened with Haeri's introduction. Professor Im is doing some really interesting scholarship, focusing on sacrifice within shamanic ceremonies, and he explained some stuff about that in a very animated tone, but as with talking to other scholars about my own research, I heard clear lack of understanding in his voice, felt his push towards me studying what he thought I should research and was generally sort of reminded of a bunch of discussions with Korean scholars. My attitude towards them at this point is as follows.

Dear Korean Scholars who already have a secure teaching position and are probably at least a little older than me: You know what you know and I know what I know. Your knowledge of history and tidbits from what has happened over the evolution of cultural policy in Korea (and why it has happened) is impressive, but my research is not historical. Your knowledge of performing arts accumulated through research, reading, conferences and so on is great and I know it~ but your research output is solidly descriptive, your citations rarely extend beyond Korea, you do not bring Korean performing arts or the situation for them into discussion with others working on performing arts issues around the world. Also your on the ground understanding of what is happening within Korean performing arts groups/preservation associations/schools is based on hearsay, limited exposure and you can't even perform these arts, hence your pronouncements feel elitist not objective, arrogant not inclusive. Although I understand why you (and I) cannot publish everything we think about certain groups or individuals for fear of burning a bridge with a group of performers that might lead to other bridges being closed to us in the future—your timidity to actually take a stance and write anything that is at all critical despite your un-attributable tough-talk one on one with me is not impressive. Finally, I would really like to see that you actually care about these issues. I research in this field because I care. Where is your passion and attachment to the arts? Show it if you've got it!

In the evening I finally had another 상모 sangmo class with Yi Jonghui. It was great. I now have a sangmo routine that is about 1 minute long when performed. I worked on ironing it out and getting the transitions down until at least 20 minutes after Jonghui had left before I headed home. I really need to find time to practice. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Visit to the Cultural Heritage Administration

July 4th, 2011
It was an intense day; a day when I used all my energy and was on my toes the WHOLE time. I got up and shortly afterwards headed to the bus station and took a bus to 대전천사 the government complex in Daejeon where some of the Korean gov't ministries, etc. are located, including the Cultural Heritage Administration. I timed my visit to arrive directly after lunchtime, and that part was successful. I managed to get ALL the info I knew to get, but the problem was I wanted them to just brainstorm what else might be useful and pile it on me—I mean, if I don't know if it exists how can I ask for it? So either I already know everything (doubtful) or… I came away without something that I'll find out about in 2 years and be pissed I didn’t know when I was writing the dissertation. The guy who helped me, Kim Sam-ki, was nice, though, and accommodating in regards to the stuff I knew to ask for… now I have to re-read the Cultural Property Protection Law's section on Intangible Culture, though. I feel a headache coming on, already. So I talked to Mr. Kim and got some good info from him in regards to the government's position on this and that, but then he ran out of time. I had to at least briefly talk to 엄승용 Eum Seungyong, my friend who is also the Director General of Cultural Heritage Policy at the Cultural Heritage Administration, before leaving, and waited outside his office for at least 40 minutes (knowing I was going to be later and later for the rest of my day). This chat yielded something unexpected- he asked me to serve as an outside adviser on a new government task force he's setting up called "Korean Cultural Heritage 2020"- designed to think about the future issues with cultural heritage in Korea (and head off problems in advance). I feel very honored, though later when I need to be articulate and substantive I might feel a little less excited.

Finally I left and by din of jaywalking I managed to make the next bus heading to Seoul (without even 2 minutes wait). Yes! But since I'd forgotten my exercise pants I had to run home, then run to Bongsan Talchum 봉산탈춤 class, arriving 10 minutes late (I did stop to have a 5 minute dinner—two minutes to wait while she made kimbap and 3 minutes to wolf it down- I had only had a snack at lunch time so I really needed it.) Usually 10 minutes late is no problem as 김은주 Kim Eunju comes to class at 7:15 every time, but she's in Russia or Uzbekistan teaching Bongsan Talchum and so 장용일 Jang Yongil was filling in. Everyone's afraid of him and once I was, too. But now I think he's awesome and I even have a little crush on him (when he's dancing, when he's not dancing it's too obvious that he was born in 1946, but when he's dancing he's still so amazing and lithe and powerful~!).  He's a slave driver. We had 17 people in class today, and fully 7 of them were beginners in their first two weeks—but he didn't teach them. He just told them to follow along (which meant everything was rather chaotic at the back of the room (I am at the front in the center as is the responsibility of the senior class members) and I had to be careful not to look in the wrong direction or I'd get thrown off and screw up). Actually I did great. But we worked HARD. There was almost no break time as usually the advanced students rest while Kim Eunju teaches the new students, but today we just would stop to breathe for 3 minutes and then go on. Instead of grandmother or any other parts we have been practicing after the monks, today we did 사자춤 lion dance and then did 취발이 Chuibali, which is the first time I've ever learned his dance. Cool! Jang explained a lot about Chuibali, who he is, his motivations and what his dialogue means at the beginning of the scene (he taught about 1/3 of the scene I think). The whole class was so intense, we didn't even get to meet the new people, and we had to do ALL the monologues for all the monks. We've never done that before. I don't know 5 at all. I know a tad of 6, parts of 4 (I can fake 4 if others are doing it with me) and 7 was short and I almost learned it before we did it during the 3 minute breather. (I already know 2, 3 and 8 perfectly). Oh, and this guy who did Bongsan Talchum with me in 2006 came back from the military yesterday and showed up for class today. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Being a Tour Guide in the Rain

July 3rd, 2011
In 2005 I went to a conference, a graduate student conference, organized by Wilmar, a doctoral student at the University of Hawai'i. Later, at WAC I found that an upperclasswoman (who became a good friend) was actually Wilmar's wife. Wilmar finished his Ph.D. and is now living and working in Indonesia (his native country) and this week he's got a conference here in Seoul. Today was the day I could meet him and take him around, but it was raining buckets. It was raining so badly the police were directing the intersections and I was worried they'd be run over. It was raining so badly I saw a manhole cover that was knocked off because the water was spurting and gurgling up the hole as it tried to make its way down the too-full culvert. Seriously it was a geyser on the sidewalk! And the buses at the curb were driving through water a good 12 inches high—no one waited anywhere near the bus stop—they sprinted over from under buildings when the bus was stopped.

Wilmar and I went around old parts of Seoul, toured 경복궁 Gyeongbok Palace, then the National Folk Museum had a really disappointing lunch and I helped him shop for some Korean food stuff to take back to Indonesia for his wife, Feriyal, and his family. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Karjam Leaves and I Practice Songpa Sandae Noli

July 1st, 2011

In the morning Karjam finished up and uploaded to Youtube another video, the making of "Losar Dodlih" featuring Yoon Jihee (and you can see Go Seokjin on the video, too). Please visit it and give it lots of love! 

Karjam finished packing and re-packing then we had coffee/tea with our landlady. One last lunch in Karjam's favorite of our local restaurants (I'm actually glad I don't have to eat there anymore, I'm so sick of their food!) Then we headed to the airport. There is a new airport subway train that departs from Seoul Station and has a check-in counter for some of the airlines, including Korean Air which Karjam was flying. This was a real life-saver as his bags were SO FREAKING HEAVY. We checked in and went through immigration (no line and no line) there, then boarded the subway to the airport with his two instruments and a small backpack with his carry on stuff.

I was really sad to say good-bye to Karjam at the airport. It sounds dorky, but I'm more in love with my husband now than I ever was before, seems to keep increasing. I wonder if there is a limit?

July 2nd, 2011

In the morning I worked on the computer in my empty house. In the afternoon right after writing something I –thought- was perhaps good I got on the bus and it turned out 박주현 Bak Juhyeon, our 대금 daegeum player was also on the same bus on his way to 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli practice. So we talked, starting with me asking him to help me understand some ideas I'd been playing with in my writing from his perspective, which helped a lot, but also meant I have to change some stuff. Better to change now than later! 

At class we had a fairly good turnout (it wasn't raining). 함완식 Ham Wanshik, 김명하 Kim Myeongha, 함승헌 Ham Seungheon and his wife and son (his son is so cute!), 어원석 Eo Wonseok, 윤지희 Yun Jihee, the 피리 piri player who's name I never remember, plus the two elementary school kids, their mother, and a guy who has attended 5 or so sessions of a community class and wanted to practice with us.  Ham Sr. talked and played the janggu while Kim Myeongha led the dancing. The difference between Ham's motions and Kim Myeongha's motions are like night and day. I think I prefer Kim as his motions are very natural. However in a calculated attempt to keep Ham happy with me I danced with Ham's motions all day and I know he saw that. After a good practice of basic motions Ham Sr. decided to lecture new guy about the instruments which 1) Ham doesn't know that much about 2) the musicians are younger and lower in status and can't contradict him 3) he didn't even find out if new guy already knew about the instruments or not… which he probably knew as much as Ham knows. So I was a bit frustrated. We then did basic motions again and Kim Myeongha led Eo and Ham Jr. through two acts (Buk Noli and Omjung).

After class Yun Jihee and I went to dinner together and she grilled me about advanced studies in the US. She didn't seem concerned about English, she wanted to know more what type of studies were possible in what type of department. It was nice to feel I might be helping her, since she helped so much with Karjam's CD.