Min Suk Chon: Korean Folk Village
Where do I begin....maybe with the announcement made at work that those teachers not obligated to go to Seoul for teacher training, would be invited for a day long retreat. As these words passed through Shawns' (the administrator) lips everyone let out a single groan in unison. The collective sound made me think of a cow giving birth. "Not our weekeeeennnndddd!!!!!!!!!!." I on the other hand was completely pumped and celebrating on the inside because I could smell what was on the horizon, like a shark detecting a drop of blood in a 1,000 gallons of water. The above description is based loosely on factual events, the rest is just creative story telling. I took one creative writing class in college and since have developed an identity crisis and I think I'm Jules Vern or something.
So this day long journey was scheduled to commence at 11:30am on Saturday, 5/21. Unfortunately some members of our expedition were just a smidgen late...like an hour or so. I am a generally laid back dude and most people who know me would say that it takes a lot to piss me off. I once had someone accidentally pour a drink on my laptop and in effect completely destroy it, and all I could do was laugh. But if its one thing that gets me chapped, besides genocide at least, is a lack of punctuality. Anyways, I quickly forgot about those shortcomings
and was set into abdominal racking laughter at the words that were coming out of my school directors (Mr. Moon) mouth. I was asking him questions about the Korean language and all of a sudden he blurts out "Josep you know there are so many turkish in Korea?" I am sitting there riding shotgun in his pimp mobile, wheels and gears turning in my brain trying to make sense of what he just said. To save time I will simply just explain his joke....he was attempting to make the statement that many turkeys (gobble gobble) want to immigrate to Korea from the United States because of Thanksgiving and the like. He then followed up that comedic grand slam with saying that many dogs are getting impatient in Korea because their American visas are taking too long.
I am leaving out about 50% of the dialogue which was me trying to decipher what the hell he was saying...but in the end the entire process was made even funnier because of his choppy description. It was hilarious in part because the joke itself was pretty rich, but also because people of any nationality speaking a foreign language just sound like they have fetal alcohol syndrome. Koreans speak their language with a furious delivery (especially after fire water) and there have been many times where I have thought people have been berating each other but its just how they talk. When you apply that habit to speaking English, add in a thick accent, and subtract a few object pronouns, and you are left with side splitting humor. All in all, Mr. Moon is a funny little Korean man. It goes both ways though...my students loose control of their bladders when I attempt to speak to them in Korean. When I tell them cho-yung-ee-yay
(be quiet) they laugh in my face for the same reasons.
Back on track, we arrived after about 40 minutes or so of transport and immediately found where food was being served as we were all starving. After everyone picked what they wanted, we were then told to go to the specific station where that food was being prepared as it was prepared hundreds of years ago. I
selected a pretty tasty beef soup that an ajuma
served me out of an enormous cauldron. After collecting our meals we reconvened at a large table to start devouring our food. So who can tell what I am leaving out of this meal? Can anyone guess? What does Joseph and Korean culture go hand and hand with? Korean ALCOHOL!! Dong Dong Jue of course, or rice wine. (Again mom, I am sorry, think of it as me partaking in the culture). To my defense the overconsumption of dong dong jue by Guacari, Lil Joe, and myself was all on the prodding of our responsible wine slobbering director. After finishing their meals, the females of the pack left to responsibly observe some of the scheduled events that were taking place through out the village which was actually pretty
large. Us men on the other hand stayed and proceeded to get intoxicated off bottle after bottle of DDJ at roughly 2:00pm in the afternoon on a sunny Saturday. It was so much fun....just sitting there sharing stories and truly enjoying one another's companies. It was beautiful.....at one point our fun and antics reached a certain height to attract other foreigners and Koreans as well to join in the mayhem.
We finally left to go enjoy some of the village. I will offer a condensed version of what followed (I wish I could add music here...it would make a perfect montage):
Launching Guacari on his ass off of this ancient see-saw invention that Koreans used to play on back in the day, getting swallowed by a sea of Korean cub scouts and having a panic attack, jumping rope double dutch with Lil Joe (this guy I share the same name with who was given Lil because I got Big Joe), observing truly amazing spectacles of horsemanship by these Korean carnival workers, getting harassed by Mr. Moon to kiss random Korean girls for no reason at all, and jumping on these ancient forms of a modern day swings. One other thing....what truly authentic Korean Folk village isn't complete without it's own theme park that would rival Michael Jackson's neverland ranch. It was just about as creepy as neverland ranch at least. It was simply the icing on the cake....so bizarre
but so much fun. I would compare the level of fun that was had with being 7 years old again and discovering GI Joes or laser tag for the first time. The rides included a rollercoaster, carousel, bumper cars, and this obscene thing that simply went in a circle while dropping and rising in height which almost caused me to toss my cookies. Of course I rode everyone with my esteemed director and drinking partner Mr. Moon. I am ending my lengthy transmission here and honestly love the fact that I am really embarrassed by the stories that I have just told.