Gangnam Style: Korean National Museum of Contemporary Art

Up until last Saturday, the weather in Anyang had been mild and quintessentially autumnal. The front that moved through on Halloween, however, drastically changed everything, and it has been very cold and gray since.

My friend Cereba and I  spent Halloween at the Korean National Museum of Contemporary Art, which is a great place to spend a rainy day, though we got plenty wet walking to the museum from the subway exit.  Had we come up at exit 2 at Gangnam Station, we could have taken the Elephant Tram and stayed relatively dry – so a word to the wise.

I probably cannot adequately  express how much I enjoyed the museum. Seriously, experiencing art in whatever form and wherever it presents itself is kind of like a religious experience to me. Sort of like a soulful coming home. I’ve been complaining for a few weeks that I needed to get in touch with some kind of artistic expression but didn’t know where to go. Life here has been mostly about working hard to “make the grade” and, in my perception, keep from getting fired. Everyday life in Korea is about working and then more working, and when not working, drinking or shopping; exactly the kind of lifestyle I try to avoid. I mean, I try to lead a more deeply meaningful life – journey not destination and all that. What I was really seeking is the Korean perspective and reaction to the Korean mainstream way of life. I’m happy to report that I found some of that at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

Even though the permanent collection at the MOCA is free to view, we bought tickets for the featured exhibit, “Peppermint Candy.” Besides entry into a fantastic exhibit, our museum tickets entitled us to a free bus ride from the museum to the subway. That is, a warm and DRY ride from the museum to the subway.

So, after a lovely day at the MOCA, and a mostly dry journey home, a trip to our local E-Mart for snacks and dinner at the “Food Box,” our trio headed home to watch scary movies.  After the first movie, we all decided to head to Happidus’, a bar in Beomgye that caters to foreigners which, we’d heard, was having a Halloween party. At Happidus’, I played a game a pool with friend and before we knew it the place was filled with costumed party-goers, many of them, it turned out,  co-workers. I wound up hanging out around until around 1:00 AM before heading back to finish watching scary movies. My friends an I all fell asleep while watching “The Exorcist”

As I mentioned, the weather has been quite cold since Halloween and in the meantime my fellow teachers and I have been very busy administering the IBT Achievement Tests to our students – THE test that determines if a student can “level up.” Word is that once these tests are over, the kids will be wild and difficult to manage – and we still have three weeks left in the term! I look at this week as the calm before the storm and try to have faith in my ability to direct these children in positive ways in the weeks to come.

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