Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Room with a view

I have a digital camera, but it's old now and I fear it is near death. I must buy a new one. In the meantime, I have been taking pictures with a more reliable film camera (yeah, they still make those). It was only recently that I got around to digitizing them for posterity.

Here's the view from the front door of my apartment on a clear day:

Actually, the view has changed, since the old houses in the lower middle part of the photo have been razed to make way for two more high-rises like the ones in the background. It will suck to not be able to see the church in the background, which on many days is my only connection to spirituality. The tower on the left has a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which is great, except they have lousy hours (they're closed on Sunday!), which is not great.

I like taking pictures of traditional things, even though a lot of the traditional things are remakes. This is a walkway down a reasonably authentic-looking Chosŏn-era home at the Minsokchon (Folk Village) in Yong-in. It looks so inviting, I think. The folk village is a nice re-creation of life back then, but without the syphilis and the cholera.

In October 2004 I went to Italy with my parents, traveling around what is my #1 favorite country, seeing the sights, trying to get by with barely passable Italian language skills. This scene is the cliffs on the island of Capri, one of the most mispronounced places in Italy (the accent is on the first syllable). I am proud of myself for having ordered Caprese salad (mozzarella and tomatoes) while in Capri, for which it was named. That set me back about six euros. Capri is expensive.
While in Capri I saw these cats, two of whom look like the cats I had in Korea, who were named Tomato and Mozzarella. Here's an interesting bit of trivia: because of the highly magnetic iron found in the rocks that form Capri, the balancing system that causes cats to always land on their feet also makes those sitting on the ground face precisely south-southeast. Frankly, in some other life I wouldn't mind being one of these cats, because they do nothing all day except sit in the Capri sun, and I'm sure someone feeds them Caprese on occasion.

4 comments:

  1. Kushibo, is the Han'guk Minsokchon (Korean Folk Village) a decent place to shell out cash for and visit?

    I haven't gone there yet because I always held the idea in the back of my mind that it might be "inauthentic" (as opposed to living, breathing places like Hahoe near Andong), but maybe I'm missing out on something good?

    (Anyhow, who am I to comment on "authenticity"? I really want to go to Fantastic Studio in Bucheon, which is a TV/movie stage-set recreation of early 20th-century Seoul.)

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  2. Kushibo, is the Han'guk Minsokchon (Korean Folk Village) a decent place to shell out cash for and visit?

    I think it is. A good reason to go might be if you're with a visitor to the country who wants to see stuff. Then you can kind of check it out without feeling like you're being too touristy.

    I've been there about half a dozen times since the 1990s, usually with Japanese visitors, but once with a group of US embassy people. All of them liked it.

    I haven't gone there yet because I always held the idea in the back of my mind that it might be "inauthentic" (as opposed to living, breathing places like Hahoe near Andong), but maybe I'm missing out on something good?

    I did go to Hahoe and I enjoyed it a lot—we were there when they do the "fireworks" on the strings across the river—but Minsokchon is a good visit in its own right.

    The designers themselves have been careful to re-create the buildings as closely as they can. Each building is modeled after an actual building in some part of the peninsula (including NK, iirc). There are actual artisans doing stuff there in ways they were done in the past. I haven't been to Colonial Williamsburg in the US, but I get the feeling it's something like that.

    Anyway, the whole thing ends with a bunch of food at the very traditional food court. You can top off the half-day by getting loaded on makkŏlli or tongdongju, which is what I did one time, accidentally.

    (Anyhow, who am I to comment on "authenticity"? I really want to go to Fantastic Studio in Bucheon, which is a TV/movie stage-set recreation of early 20th-century Seoul.)

    Nothing wrong with that. I'd like to go see something like that myself. I have visited the open-air stage-set out in Yangsuri, in Kyŏnggi-do Province on the way out to Kangwon-do, where parts of JSA were filmed. Fascinating. I would like to see the one out in Puchon [Puch'ŏn], too.

    Along those lines, Minsokchon has been used as the set for many Korean dramas.

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  3. "There are actual artisans doing stuff there in ways they were done in the past."

    Come to think of it, I vaguely recall reading somewhere that those artisans actually live there...is that correct? (Hmmm, sounds like a question for "Ask Kushibo.")

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  4. i don't know if it's the camera or what, but that is one beautiful blue sky in two of those pictures.

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