I’ve neglected the blog recently- we’ve had two 3 day weekends but last week was stressful at work. We had to write evaluations, the data was lost half way through, then there was only 1 computer for 5 teachers to use, and our copiers and printers went down. So anyways- I had to do a lot of work at home-and my weekends were busy.
Seoul had two major festivals the first weekend of May, HiSeoul and Buddha’s birthday. I also agreed to go to Mungyeong Tea Bowl Festival on Sunday with my Korean friend, Yosefina.
Saturday I went to Gyeonbokgung Palace where every year the coronation ceremony of King Sejong the Great is reenacted as part of HiSeoul. King Sejong reigned from 1414-1450 and is renowned for creating the Korean alphabet-Hangul.
It was very hot, sunny and crowded but I had a pretty good spot. The palace ceremony involved traditional music and dance-a Korean woman next to me was able to explain some of the ceremony. In this photo, the dancers are clearing the space of any bad spirits from the past to welcome the new king.
I spent time wandering around the palace after. The palace, built in 1394 had 330 buildings, was partially burned by an earlier Japanese invasion in the 1500’s and rebuilt by 1867. In 1911, when Japan was again in charge, all but 10 buildings were supposedly destroyed. The grounds were very large and made for a nice oasis from the gray concrete of Seoul.
Sunday I got up early for a two-hour bus ride to Mungyeong. Yosefina’s friend works for the festival and they were trying to get foreigners to come, so the bus, lunch and dinner were free. The lunch was vegetarian, as the region is knowing for its vegetables-tons of veggies side and the main course veggies with rice and acorn jelly-yes made from acorns.
The region has long been known for its ceramics, especially tea bowls. These everyday items for the masses, are not mass-produced like those for official businesses, where the process is split amongst many people, like in factory. The tea bowls etc. are made by one artist, it takes 24 hours to fire a piece and there are different bowls for different seasons. The tea bowl is thought to affect the taste and we participated in a Korean tea ceremony, where we were able to try 3 different teas. As foreigners we were treated like special guests and were introduced to Korea;s master artist whose family has been making ceramics for 8 generations (he’s in the foreground here).
We also got to try making our own bowls-with help of course.