Monday, October 26, 2009

Meet me in Mokpo

As it would turn out, the Gurye music festival was actually very well done. It was performed by a music group from Seoul. You could tell. It seemed that, suddenly, people in Gurye dressed in high-fashion and actually spoke English. My friends and I knew that something had rolled in from out of town.

Despite being well done, it was still Gurye...and I needed to get out. So I left my quaint little city on Saturday for Mokpo, a large seaport city directly west of me. In the past, it has been known for it's high crimes due to high levels of sailors. BUT. Don't worry. It was very delightful.

Five ETAs live in Mokpo, but one was out of town. Two more ETAs came down from Naju (30 minutes north of Mokpo) as well, so it was great to see everyone. I had pizza for dinner. It was quite possibly the most delicious pizza I've had in Korea.

I spent the night with Rachael at her home stay. I walked into the apartment and the first thing my eyes hit was a piano. My heart skipped a beat, my fingers itched and I almost forgot to insa to my host host mom. My excitement betrayed me (and perhaps Rachael's mom's noonchi was in full swing) because she followed my locked eyes to the dusty piano and eagerly invited me to play. Rachael's family is very musical (to Rachael's dismay...because she is not. But they really want her to be), so her mom was thrilled that I wanted to play. She even dug up some music for me. Despite being horrendously out of tune, it felt so good to make music again. It was also fun to see this little Korean woman (who must be way better at piano than me) so excited. She just bounced all over the place.

Rachael and I spent Sunday touring Mokpo together. We went to the most famous rock formation (the name escapes me... perhaps Gong Sah...?) in Mokpo.

Famous rock formation in Mokpo

It's the first thing you see as you enter the city by boat. There are two legends surrounding the rock formation, but the most famous one is that two monks climbed the cliff to pray. They were so taken with Mokpo that they died and were buried there. The rock formation is the two of them watching and guarding Mokpo. The other story is pretty sad. It's about a son who loses his father to illness and then drops the coffin (and body) into the ocean on his way to bury it. Mortified for dishonoring his father, the son climbed to this ledge where he spends eternity thinking about his father and the great disgrace he made to him.

After that, we walked along the boardwalk and stumbled upon - wouldn't you know it - a kickboxing tournament. Of course there would be a kickboxing tournament on the boardwalk of Mokpo. What else would there be?

It was pretty fun to watch. We watched for about an hour as stick-thin and iron-strong Korean boys pummeled each other. (I say boys, but I really mean early 20-somethings) It was actually really representative of Korean culture. The two opponents would fight like it was their lives on the line. But as soon as the match was over, they would hug - tears in their eyes - like brothers, wiping the blood and tears off of each others' faces and inspecting areas where the other took a particularly hard hit. Brotherhood in Korea is as pure, simple and natural as water.

The Match

How could I not take this picture? So cute. Just riding around the boxing ring with nothing on his mind other than what's for lunch.

So, I was sad to leave Mokpo. But I had to get home. This week I am teaching Halloween! Yay! I'm teaching the game Clue for 1st and 2nd graders and Jack-o-Lanterns, Costumes and Michael Jackson's Thriller to my 1st graders (I see them twice a week but only see 2nd graders once a week). Not sure if I explained it, but instead of saying "Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior" Korean's just say 1st, 2nd, 3rd graders (there's 3 grades in Middle school and 3 grades in High school). I also picked up supplies to make caramel apples with my host family. I will keep you posted on that!

Planning on meeting a lot of ETAs in Gwangju for Halloween weekend. The only requirement for going is that you have to travel to Gwangju (no matter where you're from) wearing your costume. Not sure what I'm going to be'll come to me.


  1. Sounds like a great weekend. Thanks!

  2. Amy, I am impressed how well you get around - buses, trains, scooter... Maybe next time I go to Korea, I should take you as my guide. I had fun reading about Mokpo - thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Amy, sounds like an interesting weekend, and enjoyable. You had a little bit of everything. I can hardly wait to see the pictures from the Halloween party. Can't you just go as an ETA in Korea?

    Have fun.
    Love you
    AS and UJ