on a bright note


A 10,000 won note, that is…

Y, Seven Star, Nine Stones (supposedly these descriptions are derived from the way their Korean names sound) and Mr. Oh are taking me on a cultural trip to, I believe, Andong the first weekend in June.  Turns out Nine Stones’ wife is a descendant of King Sejong (pictured on the 10,000 won note above) and his in-laws still live in one of the residences that belonged to some famous philosopher attached to a nearby famous Confuscian Academy.  Their home is one of Korea’s tangible assets – which is kind of a pain for them, because they aren’t allowed to make changes to make it more modern and convenient and everything must be preserved as-is.  (I guess it was moved once, when the near-by river got dammed, so it used to be next to the Academy but is now a little remote.  So we’re going to travel there and have dinner and spend the night.  I was warned that it’s very rustic, and that the bathroom is a detached pit latrine, etc.  But they all know I am really interested in traditional culture and have arranged for this visit.

I guess there’s a total of seven teachers going, and Nine Stones’ wife’s presence is imperative because they speak a different dialect there.  (it’s in Gyeongsangbuk-do in Central Korea)  Whatever dialect it is, (not Jeollanamdo) none of the teachers here can understand it either, and they’re all a little nervous to go without an interpreter.  So we’re all really excited about that trip, and I really do like some of the teachers here a lot.  It sucks they all have their own lives and I can’t really get to know them better.

And, at the same time I blew up at school was also registration for a cultural field trip for native English teachers, which I signed up for.  So next week I will go for two days and one night to the Gangneung Danoje Festival.  So will get to stay in a traditional hanoak estate over night, and there will be a lot of folk culture events going on there.  So that should be fun and interesting.  It’s brilliant, these cultural offerings the school district offers native English teachers to keep them interested in Korea.  I just wish they spent more time on their contracts and honoring them…

Oh, what will next year bring?  The past three and a half months seem like a year…

ADDED:

I saw on the subway that a printing company will print a birthdate and Happy Birthday on money for you to give as a gift.  I was kind of surprised this was allowed, especially after coming from Thailand, where you have to treat money with reverence (and any image of the King) and to not do so is a serious offense.

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2 thoughts on “on a bright note

  1. I’m envious of all the opportunities you have coming up to check out traditional festivals and housing! I was invited to stay in a hanoak farmhouse while out in the area around Ulsan for New Year and I was reminded of how different it is sleeping out in the countryside compared to the city.

    Do your coworkers introduce themselves as Nine Stones and Seven Star in English?

  2. “Do your coworkers introduce themselves as Nine Stones and Seven Star in English?”

    ha ha ha! Seven Star would introduce himself like this: “I am Chu Sam a, but everyone calls me “eating machine .” (so maybe chu means star?)

    I think they refer to each other as Seven Star and Nine Stones, etc., but not to themselves. They refer to the Vice Principal as Spot, because that’s what his name means in Korean. So I think they only do this when a Korean name’s meaning has a direct English translation, because it’s funny…I was told, as in the case of the Vice Principal, that they didn’t know why a mother would name their kid spot. I’m not sure how many Korean names actually have meaning as a Korean word…

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