Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Heungam Evacuation - Ned Forney

At the bi-monthly lecture on Korea hosted by the Royal Asiactic Society, Ned Forney shared the remarkable and largely untold story of the United Nation’s first humanitarian operation and the largest US military amphibious evacuation of civilians, under combat conditions, in American history. Ned’s grandfather, the late Edward H. Forney, a colonel in the US Marine Corps, was attached to the US Army X Corps during the first six months of the Korean War. As the senior Marine working for Gen. Edward Almond, the commanding officer of X Corps, Forney helped plan the Incheon and Wonsan Landings and was then the evacuation control officer for the Heungnam withdrawal in December 1950.

During the 15-day operation, over 105,000 US, ROK, and British servicemen were evacuated, along with 17,500 jeeps, trucks, tractors, artillery pieces, and tanks and 350,000 tons of fuel, ammo, and supplies. It was not simply another Dunkirk. In addition to the military withdrawal, 100,000 North Korean refugees were also rescued from Heungnam. Colonel Forney, Admiral James Doyle, the US Navy commander responsible for the naval operations during the withdrawal, and Dr. Hyun Bong-hak, a Korean civil affairs officers and interpreter attached to X Corps, all played a pivotal role in the historic, unprecedented operation.

There are an estimated one million descendants of the Hungnam evacuees now living in freedom in South Korea, the United States, and throughout the world. ROK President Moon Jae-in is one of them. With the support of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA) and the Hungnam Evacuation Memorial Committee, Ned has interviewed 30 former Hungnam refugees and during his lecture will weave their tragic stories into the larger untold saga of the Hungnam Evacuation. 

Write up on the presentation via the RASKB website and this picture as posted in a RASKB email
Ned Forney writes and presents extensively on the evacuation and the people effected. Following are direct links to his homepage with content related to the Hungnam Evacuation:
Korean War Babies Born on the Meredith
More on the Heungam Evacuation
Other Forney Heungam-related articles

Monday, January 1, 2018

Korea & UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Korea takes great pride in being recognized by UNESCO for its cultural heritage. As for right now, 1 January 2018, the UNESCO World Heritage Center lists South Korea as having 11 world heritage sites, 1 natural heritage site, and 16 more on the tentative list.

As for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in South Korea, at present there are 19 elements inscribed, one classified as ongoing (2018), and 25 on the backlog nomination list. 

19 Intangible Cultural Heritage elements inscribed:
2016: Culture of Jeju Haenyeo (women divers)
2016: Falconry, a living human heritage
2015: Tugging rituals and games
2014: Nongak, community band music, dance and rituals in the Republic of Korea
2013: Kimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea
2012: Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea
2011: Jultagi, tightrope walking
2011: Taekkyeon, a traditional Korean martial art
2011: Weaving of Mosi (fine ramie) in the Hansan region
2010: Gagok, lyric song cycles accompanied by an orchestra
2010: Daemokjang, traditional wooden architecture
2009: Namsadang Nori
2009: Yeongsanjae
2009: Jeju Chilmeoridang Yeongdeunggut
2009: Ganggangsullae
2009: Cheoyongmu
2008: Royal ancestral ritual in the Jongmyo shrine and its music
2008: Pansori epic chant
2008: Gangneung Danoje festival
Jongmyo Jerye & Jeryeak ... royal ancestral ritual in the Jonmyo shrine and its music

Pansori epic chant ... with a story-telling singer and a drummer
perhaps this pansori singer is singing the famous Arirang, another intangible heritage

One on-going nomination (not inscribed so no links as yet)
2018: Ssireum, traditional wrestling in the Republic of Korea

25 backlogged nominations (not inscribed so no links as yet)
2013: Yeondeunghoe, lighting lantern festival
2012: Korea's programme for documenting intangible cultural heritage (ART18)
2012: Music of Daegeum and Piri, traditional Korean wind instruments
2012: Music of Gayageum, a traditional Korean string instrument
2012: Craftsmanship of Gat, men's horsehair hats
2010: Hakyeonhwadae-hapseolmu, the crane and lotus flower dance
2010: Hahoe Byeolsingut Tallori, mask dance drama of Hahoe
2010: Gyeonggi-do Dodanggut, tutelary rite of Gyeonggi province
2010: Bawijeol village funeral rehearsal play
2010: Naju Saetgolnai, cotton weaving of Naju
2010: Gasa, narrative songs
2010: Sagijang, ceramics
2010: Seokjang, stonework
2010: Jasujang, embroidery
2010: Chiljang, lacquer craft
2010: Gakjajang, calligraphic engraving
2010: Mokjogakjang, wood sculpture
2010: Yundojang, making geomantic compasses
2010: Wanchojang, sedge work
2010: Yeomsaekjang, dyeing with indigo
2010: Somokjang, wooden furniture construction
2010: Seonjajang
2010: Munbaeju, Munbae liquor
2010: Myeoncheon Dugyeonju, Dugyeonju liquor of Myeoncheon
2010: Gyeongju Gyodong Beopju, Beopju liquor of Gyodong, Gyeongju
a musician wearing a gat (horse-hair hat) playing the gayageum, a zither-like instrument

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Gopanhwa 2018 Woodblock Exhibition



고판화 박물관, The Museum of Ancient Asian Woodblock Prints, held their 5th annual woodblock print competition, and once again the walls of the privately owned museum were decorated with newly made woodblocks. Last year's competitors were divided into three classes: professional class, art student class, and beginner-soldier-foreigner class. This year there were no art students participating; distance was explained as the biggest problem -- mailing large art pieces, attending the awards ceremony (which none did last year), and then arranging for pick-up of their submissions. I thought it is a great loss for the competition as the students were risk-takers in their submissions and had huge variety: engravings, etchings, paint-wood combinations. They were exploring woodblocks as an art form, so it was a joy to see how the muse of inspiration was actualized through their unique pieces.

Like every competition though the style is different, and this year the Grand Prize winner had developed a very unique style of printing! Modern woodblock printing, which I still don't fully understand, but it seems to be done through the process of putting thick paint on wood sheets and laying the paper on top for printing. Somehow in her printing process she was capable of capturing the woodgrain!

[Picture above] Several woodblocks like the once pictured were entered in the competition. The woodblock featured on the wall posting was wild cherry, a rather hard to carve but very durable wood.

Grand Prize Winner - Bae Nam Kyung (2 entries using the modern woodblock printing style of "wood planography"). On first and even second impression these woodblock prints look like watercolor! Definitely a new type of printing style to me, so I can't offer much comment. It's always interesting to learn a bit about the piece painted and the "model" and inspiration for this piece was the artist's mother. 



Other wood planography and a woodcut (the woman in hanbok) from a publication
on her 2016 wood-cut / wood-planography exhibition in China. Artist Bae Nam Kyung.


Bae Nam Kyung has a PhD in Fine Arts from Seoul National University (2015) with particular focus and emphasis on painting and printmaking. Her first award (according to the art publication "배남경 나무글나무그림 / Bae Nam Kyung Woodletter Woodpicture" on a Chinese exhibition held in 2016) she won in the 2002 22nd National Competition of Prints by KCPA, Kwanhoon Gallery, Seoul - Superior Prize. Since, she has won several awards and participated in more than 100 group exhibitions as well as hosting 10 solo exhibitions (as of 2016). 

Han Byung-ok, second highest award!
Han Byung-ok doesn't want his work displayed anywhere as he makes only ONE copy of each woodblock carves, making that single print very special. He does realize that by entering this contest that a copy of his woodblock will be reproduced and perhaps posted online. He admits it's the price of entering a contest. 

This young man has only been carving for 3 years, and yet he won the fourth or fifth highest award!
He told me that in the past 3 years since starting to woodblock carve, he has only carved about 200 or so woodblocks!

Honorable Mention

And I was even recognized with an honorable mention, which very much surprised me! I had sent the scroll print from my carved woodblock to the competition but explained that the print was not an "honest" one as I had had to darken the lines with a paintbrush because I couldn't get a good print. I did a very credible job of following the lines with Chinese ink, BUT it was not a 100% woodblock print. Before the exhibition, I told the owner monk that again and he just smiled and said "well done", and then he affirmed what I already knew, that printing is another art form related but separate from carving. This was my second year to win honorable mention; however, I do feel that my cranes from last year were better presented than the tiger reflection of this year. Just my opinion. That said, I've already got ideas for the 2018 woodblock carving competition.



Friday, December 22, 2017

Stained Glass Christmas Ornament (class)

The global village center in Itaewon, Seoul, hosted a stained-glass Xmas-tree ornament making class. Though a bit expensive at W25,000 or W30,000, I thought it was a great chance to have a new experience. And, I could get the foundation knowledge of soldering, and then from there I could teach myself. So I signed up. 


Stained Glass Star Ornament Making

Each person was given a handout with introductory information, and just a word or two of caution (see below ... not much of a word of caution! If this class was offered in the States, we'd be required to sign a liability form before the class, and no kids would ever be allowed to even think of using a soldering iron. The expectation here in Korea still is "you're not helpless, so just be careful". Great approach to experimenting with arts and crafts!) . The husband and wife team who prepared this lesson regularly teach stained glass classes, so they came well prepared. All materials, including protective clothing like aprons and gloves, were included in the price.
  • Wear apron and gloves
  • Take your time. Do not rush.
  • Soldering iron is very hot, so be EXTRA CAREFUL! 
  • While using the iron, don't touch anything but the handle, and when not in use always place the iron in the holder.
  • If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Cutting glass practice:

Each of us had two 5" x 5" or so pieces of glass -- one was to practice cutting on. We were to make long quick cuts as parallel as possible. The idea was (1) to learn the angle for making the most precise cuts, and (2) learn the importance of control in order to achieve a planned cut (precise measurements are very important on dimensional work!) The second piece was to be the cutting board/platform for cutting the stained glass. 

Steps to successful cuts: First, control the cutter and practice cutting glass
  • Grab the cutter like a pencil -- the longer part of the cutter should face downwards.
  • It may not seem like it, but you need to apply pressure in order to score the glass.
  • If you cannot keep your hand straight, draw a line with a pen and score the glass along the line.
  • With the round part of the pliers underneath the scored glass, grip the glass along the edge of the score line and break the glass towards you (wonder why since glass fragments might fly upwards, but that said, it seems a person has more control snapping the glass this way.)
  • Avoid snapping the glass close to your face, so hold your hands low while snapping the glass.



Sanding the glass
  • Drip 1-2 drops of water on the knife sharpener (whetting tool) and sand the edges of the glass
  • Wipe off the glass dust with a wet tissue and dry the cut pieces



Copper foiling
  • Center the strips of copper foil along the edge of the cut glass and wrap the edge completely
  • Wrap the excess sides of the foil over the sides and press it flat
  • Burnish the foil with a plastic utensil (a smooth pen cap maybe); foil should appear very smooth and neat all along the perimeter edges


Soldering 
  • Temporarily fix the glass segments together with small strips of tape
  • Apply flux using a toothbrush (if too much flux is used, removal of excess is difficult)
  • Put just a sporadic few beads of solder in strategic places to hold the pieces together
  • Remove the tape and apply flux to all copper foil
  • Solder all of the edges as smoothly as possible and until all copper foil is covered

Affixing the holder ring

Because of lack of time, one of the teachers deftly took a pair of pliers and quickly picked up small keychain ring segments, applied flux and soldered one on each participant's ornament. And wah-lah, we had a Christmas tree ornament ... which took about 2 hours to make. We should easily whip them out next time. They really are quite simple!

the completed ornament along with our instructors' contact information
I found the glass cutting aspect and the actual soldering the most fun! This was an introductory course even though we were only making tiny straight cuts. I did try to make some right angle and curved cuts and when the husband saw me, he laughed and said I needed different tools and different method. Right. I was only shattering glass. So maybe in the future I'll take some higher instruction on more advanced curved cuts. The husband and wife team regularly hold stained glass classes, and they had on display some Hawaii samples with beautiful curved cuts.  I have their info, so that'll be what I learn next! 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Korean Sports, a History Written in Sweat

Quarterly the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History hosts a private evening tour for members and friends of members of the Royal Asiatic Society (www.raskb.com). And tonight they hosted their 10th private tour for the RAS; this temporary exhibition was on the history of Korean sports, a topic most relevant as in less than two months the 2018 Winter Olympics kicks off Pyeongchang. The outline of the exhibition is as follows:


PROLOGUE - KOREAN SPORTS BEFORE THE OPENING

From ancient times our nation had a unique sports culture. There were physical activities with music and dancing at religious rituals, such as Buyeo's younggo, Goguryeo's dongnaeng, and Dongye's mucheon, and there were activities for physical training related to martial arts, such as archery, riding, ssireum, soobahk, and chajeon nori. Other various traditional folk games also improved the physical strength and the cooperative spirit of the Korean people.  

hwalinsimbang
hunters on sleds
THE BEGINNING OF MODERN SPORTS IN KOREA

In the late 19th century, Joseon opened its doors to the world amid the plunder of imperialist powers. It was then that modern sports was introduced, also bringing change to the concept of the body. The courts of Joseon and the Korean Empire sought to build up the physical strength and and the hearts of the people by encouraging physical education. Many laws and institutions were established, and "Physical Education" was designated as a school subject.

Physical education during the colonial period took on a different mission -- as a tool for the restoration of national sovereignty. The colonial situation caused many limitations for sports activities of Korean, but with the change in Japanese colonial policies to show a little more flexibility after the March 1st Movement, there was some progress in sports for the Korean people, such as the founding of the Joseon Sports Association in 1920. 

In a situation in which Japanese imperialists oppression continued to intensify, sports contributed to the health of the Korean people, and Korean leaders encouraged sports, believing it would be able to contribute to the restoration of Joseon's national sovereignty. Sports gave courage and strength to a people that had lost their country.

1. Change in the concept of the body

In the traditional concept of the body in Joseon, there was the idea of eating well to maintain good balance and pursue longevity, but there was no concept of actively exercising the body to improve health. The traditional training of the body, in comparison to modern-day sports, was more like a spiritual exercise, in a sphere separate from physical recreation activities. Also, the concept of the body in traditional medicine or philosophy held the organismic perspective, which was greatly different from the Western mechanistic view of the body that was actively being introduced in the late 19th century.

2. Change in the Perception of Sports and the Introduction of Western Sports

After the opening of ports, the perception of physical education in Korea changed. In his Royal Edict on Education, King Gojong emphasized the importance of "intelligence, virtue, and physical fitness," which was a new kind of educational philosophy, placing the same level of importance on physical well-being as on intelligence or virtue. In many newly-established schools, modern sports were introduced. In each school, new subjects such as gymnastics were taught, field days were held, and many different sports activities were encouraged. Since the Hwangseong Young Men's Christian Association (today's YMCA) was founded in 1903, sports competitions were held. The Korean Sports Club, the first private sports organization to be created in Korea, often held competitions both inside and outside the organization, contributing greatly to the expansion of interest in sports.

3. The Establishment of the Joseon Sports Association and Sports Activities

In 1910, when the Korean Empire was annexed by Japan, sports activities run by schools and private organizations became limited. However, after the March 1st Movement, with Japanese colonizers implementing the so-called cultural rule, there were movements to establish sports organizations, started mainly by Koreans who had studied in Japan, and such movements bore fruit on July 13th, 1920, when the Joseon Sports Association was founded. The Joseon Sports Association hosted and supported many different sports events, such as the 1st Joseon Baseball Competition. A variety of sports games were spread, professional athletes appeared, and more people began to be interested in sports.

4. Korean Sportspeople during the Colonial Period

Many Joseon intellectuals and independence activities during the Japanese colonial period considered sports as a way to increase the power of the Korean people. Thanks to the Korean athletes who performed impressively even in competition with Japanese players, the people of Joseon could maintain their hope for independence. Korean athletes who had to participate as Japanese representatives ran with the spirit of Joseon in their hearts although the Japanese flag was on their chests.

1920 in Jeonju

THE TRANSITION AND TAKEOFF OF KOREAN SPORTS

On August 15th, 1945, with the joy of independence, Korean sports also began again. Sportspeople reestablished the Joseon Sports Association, and the Joseon Olympic Committee joined the International Olympic Committee. Korean athletes could finally compete in a competition under the nationality of "Korea" in the 1948 London Olympic Games.

After gaining independence, the Republic of Korea went through many political upheavals. Having emerged from the May 16 Coup in 1961 and continuing until 1979, the Park Chung-hee government developed state-led elite sports through sports policies. The Fifth Republic, which had emerged with a new military regime taking power, made many contributions to the sports sector by giving birth to professional sports and hosting the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Olympic Games, but there was also the aspect of using sports to disperse the people's burning desire for democracy.

1. Korean Sports after Independence

Right after independence, the political situation was in disarray, with the conflict between left and right ideologies. Amidst this situation, sportspeople were very active, reestablishing the Joseon Sports Association, organizing the Joseon Athletics Comrade Society, and hosting the "National Athletic Competition in Celebration of Liberation." During this period, political confusion and conflict caused some sports personalities to meet a tragic death, shocking people in the sports sector. Meanwhile, the Joseon Olympic Committee joined the International Olympic Committee, and in the 1948 London Olympic Games, a Korean delegation was sent to represent "Korea." Kim Seong-jip in weightlifting and Han Soo-am in boxing each won a bronze medal, the first Olympic medals in Korean history.

Suh Yun-bok wins the Boston Marathon (1947)

2. State-led Sports Promotion

In June 1950, the sound of gunfire rang across the Korean Peninsula. The destruction brought by the Korean War caused much suffering to sports people as well. However, while still in war, in 1952, the Republic of Korea participated in the Olympic Games held in Helsinki, Finland, and gave hope and courage to the Korean people who were amid ruins by winning two bronze medals. From the 1960s, sports developed with full support from the state. A large amount of the government budget was allocated to foster sports, and the Taereung National Training Centre was built for the development of elite sports. Sports activities greatly increased in quantity and quality, as teams for different sports were organized and various competitions were held.

President Park Chung-hee visiting the Taereung Training Center (1976)
3. Sports Activities and Sportspeople in the 1960s and 1970s

Korean sports domestically ensured its internal stability and internationally made many good records in overseas competitions. The Korea Sports Council became an overarching organization of the Korean sports sector, as the Korean Olympic Committee and Korea School Sports Association were integrated into it in 1968. The National Athletic Competition gained prominence in the 1960s, The National Athletic Competition gained prominence in the 1960s. Lee Sang-baek and Jang Gi-young were elected as members of the International sports sector. In the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, Yang Jung-mo in wrestling won the first Olympic gold medal for Korea.

Taereung national skating rink (1971)
4. The Beginning of Professional Sports and Athletes

In the early 1980s, professional leagues emerged in sports such as baseball and football. Baseball was already popular due to the high school, vocational baseball boom and the winning of the World Baseball Championship Series (Amateur World Series), but it greatly expanded its influence after professional baseball emerged in 1982. In 1983, professional football and professional ssireum (Korean traditional wrestling), and from the 1990s, professional basketball and professional volleyball emerged. Such efforts allowed Korean sports players in various sports to enhance their performance.

ssireum wrestler Lee Man-ki, Jangchung Stadium (1984)

THE GLOBALIZATION OF KOREAN SPORTS

In the late 1980s, having achieved the results of procedural democracy, Korea also gained much energy in the sports sector. Hosting the 24th Summer Olympic Games in Seoul 1988, Korea showed its national strength and progress to the world.

Afterwards, Korean sports developed in many aspects, but the hosting of international competitions is most noticeable. After the Summer Olympic Games in 1988, Korean also hosted the 2002 Korean-Japan World Cup and the 2011 Daegu World Championships in Athletics. By hosting the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Korea has achieved a grand slam in hosting the international competitions.

Hosting such events have developed national strength in sports, improved Korean athletes' performance, and increased the level of public interest in sports and better conditions for everyday sports.

1. Hosting the Asian Games and the Seoul Olympic Games

The 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games revealed the economic growth and impressive development of sports in Korea. Especially in the Seoul Olympic Games, the highest number of countries participated in the history of the Games; Korea displayed mature administrative capacity, successfully hosting the event, and also finished 4th in overall rankings. The images of Korea introduced overseas during the Olympic Games also became a chance to present how much growth Korea had seen in general.

official music record "Hand in Hand" from the 24th Olympic Games in Seoul (1982)
official Report of the 24th Olympic Games in Seoul (1988)
2. Achieving the Grand Slam in Hosting International Competitions

Having gained confidence from the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games in hosting international sports events, Korea went on to hold the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup and the 2011 Daegu World Championships in Athletics, and is hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. The 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup was the first time in history that the World Cup was co-hosted by two countries, and it ended in success. Korea also performed well in the World Cup, reaching the semi-finals, and also surprised the world with its passionate, heated street cheering. In the 2011 Daegu World Championships in Athletics, however, public apathy towards the event and the low performance of Korean athletes indicated the challenges that needed to be overcome in the future.

Koreans wearing red and taking to the streets during the country-wide
(even world-wide wherever Koreans could gather) during the 2002 World Cup
3. Korean Athletes Active Overseas

There have been Korean sports stars in each generation who played remarkably well overseas, making Korea known to the world and giving great joy to the Korean people. In the 1960s and 1970s, when Korea's national power was relatively weak and the people had low confidence, the small number of athletes who were active overseas gave refreshing joy to the people. In the 1990s, many more Korean athletes began to perform well abroad, encouraging the Korean people who were in despair due to the IMF crisis.

4. Sportspeople Take on the Winter Olympic Games

The first time Korean athletes participated in the Winter Olympic Games was in the 5th Winter Olympic Games held in 1948 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Since then, Korea has performed quite well in international winter sports competitions, winning its first medal at the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympic Games. Korea Produced many talented players especially in short track speed skating, achieving high ranking in the Winter Olympic Games. Korea has also performed well in other events such as speed skating and figure skating, making itself known worldwide as a country strong in winter sports.

All picture and text credit goes to the organization 
of the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Citizen's Hall, Downtown Seoul

The special interest group, Business and Culture Club of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch, made arrangements for their monthly lunch-time tour to be at the Citizen's Hall, downtown Seoul. The first and second basements are opened to everyone and have several continually changing exhibits for citizens to enjoy. 

Because the weather has been quite cold lately, citizens escaping the cold wandered from, to and between shops and temporary exhibits. The first basement is also a gathering spot for the homeless, I did notice were careful not to lay down on the benches. I get the impression that there's an unspoken rule that as long as they don't make Citizen's Hall obviously look like a homeless ward, they are welcome to enjoy it during the open hours (9am - 9pm). Sadly, many of the homeless seemed to struggle to stay upright. I felt quite bad for them; it's certainly a struggle to stay warm at night in the very, very cold weather, and in the warmth of the Citizen's Hall where their muscles can relax, they dare not to relax too much for fear of being expelled. 

Citizen's Hall is a history center. It's first basement has an excavation and development plan which shows the history of City Hall in archeological format: original street layouts with barely navigable paths between houses, wall delineations highlighting the fact that houses in former times were (as we think now) distressingly small. Also, according to archeological evidence, City Hall now sits on what was formerly a munitions factory. Quite the interesting place for a wander! Here's a little more detail on the purpose of Citizen's Hall Global Site:
 
Citizens Hall, situated on the 1st and 2nd basement levels of Seoul City Hall, serves as a Citizens’ lifestyle courtyard where citizens can create and share together. The hall is designed according to the principles of ‘void’ (emptiness) and ‘flexibility’ in such a way as to accommodate various types of citizen-oriented activities such as discussions, exhibitions, performances, lectures, and play programs. Its Chinese name uses cheong (聽) meaning ‘listening’, rather than cheong (廳), meaning ‘government office’, to express the idea of a courtyard where citizens’ voices are heard and where ideas and opinions are shared between citizens.
To go into the upper levels of City Hall, a pass is needed. A very fascinating place. One whole wall of City Hall is made of glass, allowing sunlight to flood in and kiss the leaves of the world's largest indoor vertical botanical garden ... or at least it was when it was first constructed in 2013. (It has since been surpassed in height by AeroFarms in New Jersey.)
7-Story Indoor Green Wall is an Enormous Air Filter for Solar-Powered Seoul City Hall 
Seoul’s new City Hall boasts a sprawling indoor green wall that's so big it set a Guinness World Record as the world's largest vertical garden in 2013. Designed by iArc Architects, the seven-story-high vertical garden was created to complement the new City Hall’s environmentally friendly features, including its numerous renewable energy sources from solar power to geothermal energy. Approximately 65,000 plants from 14 different species grow in the garden, which spans an area greater than 17,000 square feet.


The architecture inside the windowed grand foyer is bright and symbolic (the white chandier-looking glass mass near the ceiling symbolizes 'hope', one of several symbols). There are history corners too, e.g. details on the history of the plaster and stone work, the cornices, and the restructuring. Of big interest to me were large framed pictures on the wall showing City Hall and its development over the past several decades:

City Hall after the Japanese Colonial Period (late 1940s)
City Hall (late 1940s) with story-like explanations of what is actually happening in the photo
City Hall during the 1988 Seoul Olympics
City Hall during the 2002 World Cup - "Go Red!"
The former Seoul City governor's office is located in City Hall (and what a fabulous sunny view the governor had!) And recently added is a collection of the poet Go Un's books. South Korea excitedly awaited the 2017 announcement of the Nobel Prize in Literature winner, hoping that nominee Go Un would win. However, Kazuo Ishiguro, the British author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, won much to Korea's disappointment. 

Books personally donated from Ko Un's personal library
Go Un as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, 2017 
Described by Allen Ginsberg as “a magnificent poet, combination of Buddhist cognoscente, passionate political libertarian, and naturalist historian”, the Korean poet Ko Un is the author of more than 150 collections of poems, essays and fiction, and has long been named as a potential Nobel laureate. He became a Buddhist monk after the horrors of the Korean war and wrote his first few collections while under holy orders, going on to become a political activist, during which time he was arrested and imprisoned repeatedly. Andrew Motion has described him as “a major poet, who has absolutely compelling things to say about the entire history of South Korea, and equally engrossing things to say about his own exceptionally interesting life and sensibility”.
Ko Un, reading one of his many poems.
According to the plaque on the wall, he has written more than 200 poems,
and he still writes strong!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Foreigner Art Exhibition and Charity

The Yeoksam Global Village Center hosts a year-end party every year for foreign participants to reflect on "their experiences, thoughts and memories while living in Seoul". This year "The 9th Yeoksam Winter's Tale" evolved from a gathering into a full-blown art exhibition showcasing foreigner participants' artwork during the year. Victoria, one of the main art instructors, fueled the idea and gathered sponsors, stimulated art projects, and even argued for me to participate even though I hadn't attended any of her art classes for a long while because of scheduling complications.  Then once the concept of a public art exhibition took hold, the idea came that foreigners, who wanted to could put their work up in a silent auction to generate money for charity for the House of Sharing and a children's hospital. Many participants offered their works for sale, and I designated some of mine as well.




On this end of the long table are 15 small pieces that I entered into the exhibition. My art was all watercolor and mostly following an Asian theme. During November I had participated in an online Facebook painting challenge with OASlife, a small group of people who create Asian art using traditional materials and methods. The timing was fortunate as the November daily painting challenge had just come to a close.
Unfortunately I couldn't attend the opening ceremony, but I heard it was very well attended with over 100 people: musicians, dancers, participants, family members, some passersby and a few people who had received personal invitations. As I understand it, a lot of invitations were sent out so the event was thoughtfully advertised. 





All done by one very talented lady!
The exhibition was opened from December 5-7 (Tuesday - Thursday). The first day was quite well attended, but Wednesday and Thursday people sporadically wandered through. Lucky for me, only a few others were in the exhibition hall while I was there on Wednesday, so I could get a few pictures to commemorate the event and to take a very good look at some of the highly talented participants!

There were a few not so typical artistic creations on display, but then "art" is not just limited to paintings. Several artists exercised artistic license and created outside of the box. Here is a painting with ... real sea shells instead of painted ones. Living art! And the next one is by a lady who loved designed but told me she could hardly spell the word "paint". Paintbrushes might not be her thing, but her fashion art drew a lot of attention!



And then of course my favorite piece in the entire collection ... "Galaxy Cat." The lady who did this is a design major, and she certainly designed this well. She also used mixed media -- acrylic ink for the majority but only in close-up did I realize that the eyes were done with colored pencil!