An Interesting Cultural Cocktail
This week in Korea on May 5th was Children’s Day. A national holiday that celebrates being a kid. That means no school for everyone! Yea!!!!! In my observations of this day, it is my conclusion that kids rule on Children’s Day. Their parents take them where ever they want, and buy them whatever they want, and let them do whatever they please. Heck, I think if the kids committed some atrocious crime, they would get away with it (because of course, it is Children’s Day!). That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it makes for a more interesting story.
School was out on Wednesday for everyone (and a lucky few got Wed-Fri. off), so some of us teachers got together on Tuesday night and saw Iron Man 2 at the local theater. I have to say that it was an entertaining flick. There wasn’t as much moral depth as in the first one (in regards to weapon selling responsiblity), but there was plenty of action. I was impressed most by Mickey Rourke’s role as the villain, and the realistic-looking graphics for the Iron Man suits. All in all it was a pretty good movie. Nothing to get excited about (at least for me).
On Wednesday, Jill and I and some friends went to Independence Hall, which is a national memorial that commemorates Korea’s peaceful revolution against the Japanese invasion. According to history, the revolution started in Cheonan (where we live), so the memorial is situated out in the country amongst some beautiful landscape and mountains on the outskirts of our city. I took a bunch of pictures and will have some up later. Being that it was Children’s Day, there were a ton of families enjoying the day there. The strangest thing about the visit were some of the museum displays. In one part of the museum there are chambers displaying Japanese torture techniques with robotic simulations. Three or four rooms are filled with robotic Koreans all bloodied and battered, and robotic Japanese soldiers performing torture on them. It was compete with movement and sounds of anguish. It was intense (maybe too intense for the 3 and 4 year olds I saw viewing the scenes). I think it important to be honest about history and the evils that were committed so that hopefully they are not recommitted, but I can firmly say I don’t want to see (or hear) those torture scenes again. Over-all it was a great cultural learning experience, and I have a newfound pride in Korea’s peaceful revolution that overthrew Japanese rule.
We did however take the wrong bus back home from Independence Hall, and ended up in the middle of a small town in farm country. When we got off the bus to find the correct one, there was a school across the street with a LED sign that read “welcome Fernando Beltran Luis!” or something like that. Us teachers couldn’t help but wonder what planet we had arrived on! Hahaha. But it was an excellent foreshadow to the Cinco De Mayo party we were trying to get to.
Being American, one has to admit the influence Mexican culture has had on oneself. I love Mexican food, and I love Mexican/Spanish culture. Fortunately, many of my friends feel the same way! One of our friends decided to host a Cinco De Mayo party at her apartment on Wednesday night. Mexican inspired decorations and snacks combined with 25 + people packed in her tiny apartment made for a great fiesta! My favorite part was watching as one of our Korean friends (who unfortunately has not had the blessing of Mexican culture in his experiences) hit to pieces the pinata (I can’t figure out how to write a tilde over the ‘n’ in ‘pinata’ on my Korean keyboard) filled with candy. It was a great day, and a great party. The only sad part of the night was that one of our friends that we’ve gotten to know was leaving Korea to go back to the States the very next day. We only hope her to have safe travels and many blessings.
Children’s day was a great day off. In a span of 24 hours, we experienced Iron Man 2 (American culture), Children’s Day and Independence Hall (Korean culture), and Cindo De Mayo (Hispanic culture). It has been an interesting cultural cocktail…and it tasted good! However, going to work the next day has proven difficult. I think what makes it even more so is that Jill has Thursday and Friday off TOO!!! I am so jealous. While I’m here at school working hard to educate Korean students (because some of us believe in working hard!), Jill is hanging out with some girlfriends in Seoul. Where’s my piece of the cake? Hahaha!