Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ministry of Culture and Tourism

March 21st, 2011
I worked on the computer all morning. Wanting some statistical records from the 문화관광부 Ministry of Culture and Tourism but having noticed their building was being reconstructed/renovated or something I gave them a call to find out their new location. They are now (until 2013 when they will move to Sejong City) located near Hyehwa Stn. I also needed SNU Hospital to give me some receipts for my insurance claim, so I decided to kill two birds on the same trip to Hyehwa Stn.

Silly me, I went to the Ministry first. (Silly because I knew I was going to leave with publications and OF COURSE they're heavy). I finally found the building (interesting lobby with fancy lights made from red plastic tubing as you can see in my cell phone photo)

I asked the receptionist "where is the 자료실 information/data room?
She: "Are you going to see someone?"
Me: "No, I'm going to see some information."
I know, I'm such a smartass.

What I really wanted was the 문화예술통계 (statistical records related to culture and the arts) but the new one will –probably—come out this month. However I went home with seven other books (including one hard back that has to weigh a few pounds on its own) and the exact link to download another they didn't have a copy of at the time and a promise that they'll call me when they get the statistics records in.

Here is an example of the kinds of info I can get out of these books:

(tiny analysis: western music performances dwarf tradish (gugak) performances)

I stopped by SNU Hospital then caught the subway. I met a blind guy who had 30 minutes worth of questions he'd been saving for a Korean-speaking foreigner, apparently. Or he had more because he tried to convince me to go back to his place. ("Are you white or black?" "Is this a wedding ring?" (locking fingers with me in a –far- too familiar way) "Do you know ---name of apparently a famous school for the blind—?" "Do you like massage?" "What do you think of Japanese people and the tsunami?").

Arrived at the training center for 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum class an hour early (but no one was still in any of the other offices), talked to 김은주 Kim Eunju for a few minutes, then headed to the practice room with 정현 Jeonghyeon and 하연 Hayeon. Before long we were joined by more of the crew. Everyone is getting along so well, they all want to show up early and hang out. 병우 Byeong'u had been out of town for two performances in 포항 Pohang and 경산 Gyeongsan, and he was wearing street clothes (I usually don't see him in street clothes) that would have been hip three years ago. I told him never to wear the pants again. He is very attractive in tradish clothes but looks like a putz in skinny jeans (skinny jeans are still in, but not in –that- style). The group he performs with, 미추극단 Michu Geukdan, is the same group Jeonghyeon used to be in, they do theatre and 풍물 pungmul and I'm not sure what all else. I wanted to visit the website but it's got security malware warning issues. I asked Jeonghyeon how much this next piece he's in (which will occupy him from mid April till October) will pay, and he said 10,000,000 Korean won. I guess it could be worse. It's not exactly a good wage or anything, but I had imagined worse. Yes, in Korea you can just ask someone how much they get paid. And maybe they will sidestep but they might answer, too. 병호 Byeongho showed up early, too, with his first paycheck—he had withdrawn it all so that he could hand it over to his parents in cash (symbolic, he says in the future he'll give only part of it, by bank transfer). He handed it to Jeonghyeon and Hayeon to count. So I guess it was really a day to know how much everyone earns. I didn't pay attention to what he had, though, since the new job is not arts related.

박용철 Bak Yongcheol brought one of his company members 연희 Yeonhee with him to class, and after class (pretty standard, but no 목중 Mokjung solos and we did 사자춤 lion dance instead) he talked to us all about his hopes for his piece on April 29th and our participation in the piece, particularly he wants three of our men to perform three mask dance characters (two of which are women's parts). It can't happen unless 장용일Jang Yongil (2nd ranked) approves, and he'll talk to Jang on Thursday.

I walked to the subway with Jeonghyeon and right before we got there he started telling me his opinion on professionalization in tradish performance and it was REALLY a perspective I hadn't heard before and since he's so sweet he cooperated when I pulled out my voice recorder and had him start again.

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