Saturday, August 12, 2006

An American in Seoul

Coming into Seoul from Anseong, I felt the energy of a city tuned to the present but steeped in the rich heritage and tradition of a past that stretches into the remote past and included regions that extended out as far as Manchuria.

As we approached City Hall, we could see the building decorated in anticipation of the upcoming national holiday on Tuesday, August 15th of Kwangbok-jol, Korean Liberation and the establishment of the first Korean government in 1948. The building was completely covered with materials replicating the Korean flag Tae-kuk with intense red, white, and blue with the black characters framing the central red and blue yin and yang symbol. Workers were busily constructing a stage to the side of the building.

Fortunately my hotel room looks out over this scene from the 20th floor where I look northward to the mountains that surround Seoul. As I look on the grounds before me, I see the great lawn in front of the City Hall Building. In the states, this area would be sealed off with a "Keep Off the Grass" sign, but here in Seoul families are enjoying the lawn, strolling and sitting, with children running and playing.

To my left as I look at the circular grounds below is a square with about 64 water fountains that shoot out various patterns as children run into the square to be doused with water. They are having such fun. What a great idea!

The stage has been comleted and chairs set for musicians. In front of the soundstage is a circular stage, which will likely be for speakers, performers, dancers, and whatever will comprise the official celebration.

From the intense activity, I wonder if there will be some event today, Sunday, in anticipation of the Tuesday holiday. I have just finished breakfast and will be going out in the city with some adventure ahead. Last night I went to the Korean Traditional Theatre with a friend. We had been led to believe that the top performer of Pansori, An Sook Sun, would perform that night, but as it turned out, it was her students, who were fine, but still growing. We watched the Pansori for about an hour. It is an epic work that is deeply ingrained in the Korean Psyche. The entire performance is usually about four hours.

1 comment:

thom de plume said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and observations on what sounds like a thought-provoking and inspiring adventure.

Please continue to post when you have time.