With the "daily grind" starting to wear on me, this Friday I received "mana from heaven" in the form of a much needed day off from work. I'm still not sure exactly why I received a day off, but it had something to do with a teachers' convention type activity the school was holding.
Hyenii (the English teacher at the school with the convention) invited me to see a movie with her and her friends. Since long time readers will remember I've been trying to see a Korean movie in a Korean theatre since I first came here, I of course jumped at the chance.
The movie was called Season of Good Rain (well, that was the English translation anyways). It was about a Korean business man on a trip to China for his construction company. The company had a contract to rebuild part of the country, after a devastating earthquake the year before. While there, he runs into a woman he used to have feelings for while they both studied in America. Over the course of the film, the man tries very hard to rekindle the possibly romantic feelings they both shared while studying in America. However, in a cruel twist of fate the woman is constantly riddled with guilt over having feelings for her old friend on this, the one year anniversary of her husband's death in the very earthquake that brought the man there in the first place.
We had chosen this film because I said I wanted to see something Korean. Ironically though, since the Chinese woman could not speak Korean, and the Korean man could not speak Chinese (in the film anyways), all of the dialogue between the two characters was carried out in English.
The Chinese woman's English was not overly strong, but she managed alright. I could tell though that the Korean man had studied quite a bit, as his timing and pronunciation were almost "fluent." Unfortunately some of the scenes lost a bit of their emotional value, since the "timing" and stressing/accenting of the phrases were just a hair off, and consequently did not quite convey the same meanings they should have. Knowing it would be an utter disaster if just about any Westerner I knew were to try and act out an entire movie in Korean or Chinese, I still had a lot of respect for the actors for trying.
After the movie Hyenii and her two friends (both females) asked me about my thoughts on the film. They were a little disappointed though, as my strongest feelings revolved around the use of a panda in the obligatory montage scene. Pandas, as I explained, are in my opinion the most pointless animals on Earth (from an evolutionary perspective), in that they are more or less unwilling to defend themselves, and eat a diet of nutrientless bamboo. They still remain on the planet almost solely because of human intervention, and will probably be welfare mamas for the rest of the species' time on Earth.
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I also had made plans to go back to Namhee's church this night. In-hye had told me on Sunday that Scott Brenner (a famous American Christian musician) was coming to give a performance at her church this day, and I told her I would come.
I wondered about the wisdom of inviting an English speaker to sing to a congregation consisting entirely of Koreans. However, continuing with the day's theme of irony, Scott Brenner sang about 85% of his songs in Korean. He has a Korean wife, and his ministry has been based out of Korea for over ten years. I really didn't see that one coming.
The Scott Brenner event was exciting, and the church band and back up singers were really impressive as they had no problem playing any of Scott Brenner's songs. Furthermore, I have yet to see normally quite reserved Koreans make that much noise and approximations of dancing at a church. Indeed I have been to a Van Halen concert in Edmonton, Alberta, that was a funeral compared to tonight.
The first hour was really lively, but since the concert started at 8:00 PM at the end of a long week, it was inevitable that the overworked Koreans would start to die out after that. The whole event lasted until 10:30 PM, by which time most of the once lively audience members (including myself) were sitting down and trying not to fall asleep.
I had hoped to get something to eat with In-hye after the concert, but it was quite late, and I had still had to get back to the subway station before the trains stopped running from there (it was at the end of the line, and would be one of the first stations to end service).
At home I knew I only had some rice and an apple to eat, and I had not eaten this day since lunch, so I was pleasantly surprised and relieved when I saw a jjinpang merchant in my neighbourhood on the way home.
As I've mentioned in the past, street vendors seem to offer specific food with the seasons - every season will see a new fruit and/or snack becoming popular. Since my first taste of the sweet mashed up maggots-like bean paste inside a steamed bun back in March, I have been having withdrawals. But tonight I was able to get three Pizza Pocket sized jjinpang buns for about $1.50, making this one of the best days yet.