January 14th, 2010 Two Days Before my Birthday (Phone calls and emails welcome because I'll be hanging out with a bunch of people who've never met me before, and I like b-day acknowledgement)
Woke up, ate breakfast, had morning class. The class went very well, although 수희 Suhee talked a lot, it was interesting and I learned a lot and remembered to record a fair amount of what she said with my voice recorder. One of the recently arrived 개전연 Gaejeonyeon people, 우현택 U Hyeon-taek, is a Korean traditional dance major. He was urged to stand up and give a small presentation. Part of the discussion after class ended was on the ways to evaluate different 장구 janggu. Basically, the more lines of the tree on the janggu the older it is, the slower growing, the better the wood, the better the sound. There are sizes to janggu, you should match it to your own size. 영록 Yeongnok, who is broad shouldered and nearing 6 feet tall, uses an 8. Usually if you're sitting to play you want a slightly larger one than if you play 풍물 pungmul a lot (since pungmul is properly played while dancing/marching around). A half size difference is about normal. Suhee, who is quite petite, uses a 6 for pungmul.
Lunch (totally meat, I barely ate anything but rice and the soup, which was thin black sesame gruel). Then I interviewed Janghyeok. Which was interesting, because I rarely can talk with anyone except people like 이종휘 Yi Jonghui and 김은주 Kim Eunju and 김영숙 Kim Yeongsuk about arts politics, unless I've made a special interview appointment to interview someone. It's been awhile since I had a discussion with someone new about this stuff and his age, well, it was just a very refreshing conversation.
At 2 the performers assembled in our practice room and talked about the performance and prepared ourselves. If the 상모 sangmo is loose on my head, it's hard to spin, avoiding that I erred on the side of so tight after awhile I thought I was cutting off circulation to my brain. Seriously, it was painful. We started playing around 2:40. It was two 북 buk, one 징 jing, two 장구 janggu, and two 꽹과리 gwaenggwari with two 소고 sogo dancers, two sangmo and sogo dancers (obviously one of those was me) and three elementary school children also on sangmo and sogo. Plus three people doing 잡색 japsaek, the characters who dance around in the performance. We started playing and then 국진 Geukjin, who was the 상쇠 sangsoi (lead gwaenggwari player who leads the whole group) led us onto the snow, which we were packing into sludgy ice with our steps. I was trying to spin my sangmo and my feet were slipping sideways at the same time. And my shoes didn't feel thick enough for dancing on snow/ice. After too long there, we moved, and paused at another spot, then we moved again in between the old traditional buildings where the instructors live. We re-enacted the ceremony at 대보름 Daeboreum (first full moon of the lunar new year) where you dance to someone's house and bless them and get fed and liquored up in return. Suhee and 원로 Wonno acted the part of the householders. We danced there and got fed a bit and some people drank soju, then I finally took off my sangmo (blessed relief) and packed it up to leave. We ended playing at 4:45 and Geukjin drove me to town, where I caught the bus to Jeonju.
In Jeonju I ate dinner and had tea with Bonnie, a friend from the US who is also in Korea on a Fulbright-Hays, and 김월덕 Kim Woldeok, one of my two closest Korean girlfriends. It was such a wonderful break from food at the training center.
Caught the bus to Seoul, the bus had internet! Man I love Korea.