1. Doksu To Labor Pomp & Protest
We catch the last moments of the splendid changing of the guards at Doksu Palace. Colourful flags of Dragon & Phoenix snap in the procession.
Protesters camp outside city hall while bored police stand ready with sheilds.A long white proclamation banner heralds discontent.
From the human rights office hangs a stark multi-storied banner demanding the Premier fulfill his election promise to make Seoul more handicapped accessible.
A stately building surrounded by wooden benches & a spacious courtyard is the Ministry of Labor. Two mythical beasts guard the entrance & Harubang watches over the parkade.
The gorgeous night sky illuminates the tranquil clouds. For the sake of memory peace reigns for all the silhouetted foot soldiers of the night.
2. Insects on Line 6.
Have you ever had a huge snake wrap itself around you or held a blue silvered beetle in your hand or watch a gecko climb up your arm. I have and wonder how the snake, beetle & gecko feel. Did they feel muscles tighten & tense or a tickling of the skin or a slight moisture? Would they ask if I am rich or do I miss steak? Do they have dreams? Would they like to be a broadcaster or a scientist? Would they smile & wave goodbye from a crowded Metro car. They did.
Climbing four floors of sweat shops we enter a new world on the final fifth floor. Unfolding is a House Concert sposored by Korea Seodosori Music Research & Preserve, Inc. Ass. Traditional drums and instruments are randomly displayed. A collection of pots fills the walls of one side wing & chests, hats, & traditioal furniture are displayed In the other side wing. The main room is open with a floral screen backdrop surrounded by ninety floor chairs. We are in a living shrine. A twelve year old girl begins the concert. Her intense concentration, precise practised fan gestures & gently forming tonseong cry bring tears to my eyes - this is the river of culture. The evening is precious. The flow between performer, drummer & audience is a joyous exchange of focus, laughter, clapping, sing-a- long & rapture. A considerable display of technique transforms into the direct energy of sharing probing the space where tradition & the intensely private artist associations broaden into meditations on the everlasting themes of the human condition - love, life & death.
4. Pyeongchon / Elder Brother
A ride to the outskirts of Seoul exposes the relentless pace of the inhabitants of this metropolis. At Anyang we are met with a unique blend of casual, quiet dignity & respect. The bamboo rice meal & the various delicate seafood dishes suits the occassion. Afterwards, as is my habit, I gaze intently outside the taxi & Metro windows like a knife cutting through water (possibly to clean the knife) searching to discipher a code for this inner disarray & carefully inspect domains of the frozen heart. I grind my teeth on the ten thousand poem stones, as is my habit.
"We all wish
to become something.
You to me and I to you
wish to become an unforgettable gaze."
- from Flower by Kim Chun-Su (trans. by Kim Jong-Gil)
5. Yumyeongsan I
Night drive on the highways winding to the top. Backtrack as pavement crumbles & collapses. It is easy to backtrack with a will to meet. Tents on tents jostle for space like Metro passengers at rush hour. Walking the path four seek refuge. We stir the water with rocks splashing our desires. We squat as patient companion frogs full of anticipation. We plant seeds guided by the forest caretaker's soft words. We call for good spirits through blades of grass. We float our dreams of innocence in shallow stream pools. At night we dream our dreams of experience. The future swings lightly.
6. Yumyeongsan II
Wake up. Wake up sounds the plaintive cry. It is time to run under the bridge. Back & forth a hundred times they cross like an exorcist expelling hungry ghosts. The water is cold & the deep valleys catch the wind. Later the Shaman teacher laughs & sings for joy. He is happy to be surrouded by friends. We drink to each others prosperity.
7. Seoul Plaza
Love is a poweful addiction. I danced with the National Changgeuk Company of Korea. A moment in their performance of 'Romeo & Juliet' actors move out into the audience to gather participants for the festival where the two lovers first meet. As sky meets earth I spread my arms like wings to lightly tread the grass. Then make a bridge for a star crossed lover to cross - she smiles. The night lights of the sky scrapers carve a plaza of Pansori tragedy Tear the sheet of life to feel the division. For whom do we weep?
8. Children's Grand Park / Youra
The splendour of youth. Carefree enthusiasm with knowing sensibilities. Ride life to the extreme. Don't stop. Repeat the good times. Make friends. Say yes to your guardians. Play hard, play serious, play fun & play often. Have dreams. Ask questions but more importantly watch closely. Look for the new. Remember the old. Help each other. Make today the best day of your life.