Thursday, May 19, 2011

Interview with Jin Okseop and Karjam plays music with Go Seokjin

May 18th, 2011
I finally finished the article (but the editor sent it back with changes needed later in the day). Then I said good-bye to Kim who is off to America and rushed to KOUS to interview 진옥섭 Jin Okseop, the artistic director there and the guy who taught the 4 lectures on Korean dance that I attended a while back. I had dreaded the interview, because whenever I'd talked to him he'd been a bit arrogant and I especially disliked how he'd had the course at KOUS (in the spotlight, on stage, no questions and leaving backstage so he never talked to people). However after he finally had time (I sat around having had no breakfast or lunch for an hour before he got rid of a previous meeting) I discovered (surprisingly) that he was oddly shy. For the first 7 or 8 minutes of the interview I think he only looked at me three times. He basically looked at his hands (and fidgeted a bit) or the table, or the voice recorder, or out the window. It was clear that he was intimidated by me (I am NOT intimidating in Korean. I'm a bit direct (this is a cultural difference and my personality and more limited Korean makes me more direct than a smooth-tongued native speaker) but since I don't SOUND academic most people tend to dismiss me as being kind of cute or funky or whatever. I actually take advantage of this in interviews because I'm –not- imposing or scary so people are more likely to speak honestly without need to pump themselves or their importance and they see me as less of someone to be on guard with than a 'real' academic (a Korean who will publish in Korean in Korea) so they tend to be pretty up front.

Jin Okseop photo I found on the internet
As the interview went on I was surprised how sweet he was. He should be more like himself on stage and less like a stuffed yangban robe (I'd say stuffed shirt, but he wears hanbok, robe style). He started a Ph.D. and quit for some of the same reasons I'm frustrated by Korean academia and we bonded on that point. By the end (and I had to run, literally I sprinted for the bus) he was being super open and had a trillion things to say to me and I had come around on several points in which I had been critical of him and his management of KOUS. So it was a great interview, if shorter than I'd like.

Then I met up with Karjam at the 예술의 전당 Seoul Arts Center and we met 고석진 Go Seokjin (of 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae and the 서울예술단 Seoul Performing Arts Company). Karjam and he jammed around and Seokjin is obviously going to work out REALLY well for Karjam's CD, except that he's expensive (more than I'd expected and he's giving us a good rate). He really will bring so much to the CD, though. I know a ton of percussionists. Heck I see percussionist all the time. My Bongsan Talchum teacher Kim Eunju is very well respected, the lead drummer for Songpa Sandae Noli Gang Cha-uk travels around accompanying people in concert. My sangmo teacher Yi Jonghui did percussion in university and does full time now— not to mention my various drummer friends from Gaejeonyeon and what not. But Seokjin (I describe his drumming in this post) is special and I know he'll make Karjam's CD special, too. 

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