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. 

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