Monday, March 30, 2009

Episode 25: In Which DFM Uses His Pogs Skills To Impress The Locals And A Life-Long Search For Astroboy Is Finally Realized

Today I went to meet Yoo Sung Bok, a young man who introduced himself to me after he heard Perry talk about me at the speech last Tuesday.  Sung Bok wanted to meet in Gangnam, the business area of Seoul, and home to many beautiful glass skyscrapers.

Sung Bok (in the black coat), brought along his friend, Yi Woo Jin, who Sung Bok said really wanted to meet me.  Woo Jin had spent some time studying English in England and was able to fill in the gaps between my broken Korean and Sung Bok's broken English, so I was happy to have him along.  He was also a really nice guy in his own right.

After we had some ttoekbokki and some gogimandu, we headed over to Insadong-gil, because there were still some sights I wanted to see.

Number one on my list of places to visit was Toto's collection of old things.  I was mainly looking for some Astroboy memorabilia and I hit the jackpot.

Astroboy was my favourite cartoon growing up as a child, and I've always missed it since it went off the air.  Here at Toto I found all sorts of Astroboy items including various Astroboy figures and an Astroboy punching bag.  In Korea, Astroboy is called Atom.  I hummed the Atomboy theme song for the rest of the day; a life-long search for Astroboy finally complete.

While Sung Bok and I wandered around Toto, Woo Jin found a neat promotional event going on where visitors could get free hot chocolate and play some traditional Korean games.  There was an ancient version of hacky-sack and also an ancient version of pogs, in which players used folded up pieces of newspaper or something like newspaper to flip over the playing piece.  Having consumed copious amounts of Kool-Aid during the early '90s so that I could win the official Pogs playing board, I was easily able to flip the ancient square pog.  The first two games were for the common folk, but the aristocracy played the version of darts you see above.  Players stand behind the line and try to toss the arrows into the hollowed out tree stump.  This game is not only hard, but really addicting too.

This is the Bosin-Gak bell.  Back in the Joseon dynasty (1468), when it was created, the bell inside this pagoda was struck 33 times at dawn- for the 33 heavens in Buddhism - and 28 times at sunset - for the 28 stars that determine human destiny.  Now though, it is only struck at New Years.  Visitors were once able to walk up the stairs and view the bell up close, but the same arsonist who burnt down Namdaemun also tried to burn down this pagoda, and since then the site has been closed up.

By this time Woo Jin had to go home, but I Sung Bok and I hung around because I said I wanted to see the lights of Cheonggye Stream.  I'm not certain why, but a couple dozen amateur photographers had shown up with their tripods and DSLRs with foot-long zoom lenses to photograph this small fall.  It was neat, but I don't see how a second or third picture would be any different than the first, since nothing would have moved except the water.

After this picture Sung Bok and I headed home too.  Another good day for DFM in Korea.

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