Friday, December 19, 2014

Faded, but not Forlorn

Although I love the brilliantly painted temples and palaces of Korea, I am also drawn to that which is faded or peeling. New color combinations appear, textures become more pronounced. Decorative elements become more organic and unified with the wooden surface. A sense of mystery exists. What parts of the stories and symbols on the murals are hidden or altered? How long ago was it when the last craftsman put his/her brush to these wooden panels? Are there others who can replicate its original beauty? What are the reasons for their present condition?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter - for Today

Winter morning, Czech Republic
As I write this, I sit at my desk in Seoul, warmed by the radiator next to me and the ondol-heated flooring below. Outside, the brisk winds make the temps even chillier. How different things will be for me tomorrow, for I head to Malaysia for Christmas break. The temperature difference will be vast - from 18°F (-7°C) in Seoul with a wind chill of 7°F (-13°C), to around 85° (29°C ) in Kuala Lumpur with sudden tropical showers. That six-hour flight will transport me to a whole new world.

I have booked hotels that include free internet in their offerings. What kind of service that will actually mean, I'll have to see. So perhaps I'll post some photos while still in Malaysia, but otherwise be looking for some tropical Christmas scenes in the future. Off to new adventures!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A "Sifty" Christmas Display

Seoul Station has a rather unique Christmasy sculptural display on its plaza. These columnar sculptures looked more substantial until I walked closer. To my surprise, they were constructed out of layered colanders. The plastic red and green utilitarian objects were plastic tied together. I presume the columns were weighted down and otherwise stabilized to prevent tipping by wind or vandals. 
Note the large LCD screens in the background, so typical of Seoul.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Funeral Procession - Goseong Ogwandae

At the end of the Goseong Ogwandae, a funeral procession occurs. The coffin of the wife is being carried out, accompanied by percussionists and some chanters.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gosung Ogwangdae - Scene 5

Second wife and husband at the ceremonial table. Note the downward gaze of the woman.
The fifth scene of the Gosung Ogwandae is also known as the Dance of Jaemilju, the Concubine. The wife searches to find her husband, only to discover that he has mistress. 

Concubine and husband dancing
Halmi, spinning.
The mistress delivers a baby in a rather quick birth. She regain consciousness, only to discover that the older wife has the baby in her arms. In a bit of tug-of-war with the baby son, the two jealous women end up dropping the baby, which dies. I found it interesting that the baby was very primitive looking - like a stiff, simple doll.
Descriptors from some websites then describe the concubine as attacking the wife, with the wife falling and also dying. The fifth scene is a satire of the relationship between a wife and a concubine.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Goseong Ogwandae - Scene Four: Monk's Dance

The fourth scene of the Goseong Ogwandae masked dance focuses on on an old monk who had led an ascetic life at a Buddhist monastery in the mountains. When he sees a barmaid who begins flirting, the monk loses self-control and begins to seduce her.  
While the mockery of the yangban noblemen was rather severe in the Goseong Ogwandae play, the satire towards the monk was more mild, due to the stronger prominence of Buddhism in the originating region.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Goseong Ogwangdae - Scene Three: Bibi Dance

My favorite scene of the Goseong Ogwandae is also known as the Bibi Masked Dance. In it, Bibi, a rather playful creature who loves to eat anything, taunts the noblemen. Bibi loves to leap at and jump from behind, scaring the wealthy scholar. In between, Bibi stops to play with and wag his tail between his legs.

I did not see the character Bibi appear in the masked dance at Andong.