April 24, 2012 / Issue No. 525
SEOUL Magazine May Issue
Buddhist Temples, Yeosu and Gay Seoul
The cherry blossoms may have fallen, but there’s still plenty of spring fun to be had with the May issue of SEOUL
, Seoul Selection’s monthly travel and culture magazine. In this issue of SEOUL, we look at three Seoul-area Buddhist temples for the Buddha’s Birthday, talk with American-born Buddhist monk Dae Bong Sunim, visit Yeosu ahead of the Expo, and discover “queer Seoul” for the Korea Queer Culture Festival. And of course, there’s always our listing of the month’s events and our convenient Maps & Guides section.
Korea’s Soup Nazi (and Food Wastage), Part II
Though I regard my experiences with Korea’s Soup Nazi to be something to look back upon and laugh about, the issue of food wastage is not a humorous matter. According to a 2002 report, South Korea’s food wastage exceeded the total amount of food produced in North Korea.
I’ve also read that South Korea’s food wastage could feed all of North Korea.
Why is this important? Food waste takes up landfill space which could be used for better purposes. As the waste decomposes, it produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas. Methane has been estimated to have 25 times the effect on global temperature change as an equal mass of carbon dioxide.
Finally, wasting food is wasting resources, which might not be so plentiful in the coming decades.
South Korea is a mountainous country, and in the process of industrialization, it paved over many of its rice paddies and other areas formally used for food production. Like other developed countries, South Korea uses its wealth to purchase food from other countries, including some that are very far away, like Brazil and Chile. Cheap, plentiful oil makes this possible and inexpensive. We, humans, have become very efficient at producing and distributing food. By using advanced harvesting machines, artificially-produced fertilizers (such as synthetic nitrogen), and genetic engineering, we have managed to produce food surpluses. However, there are signs that we have reached the limits. For example, chickens have been genetically-engineered to grow so rapidly, and to have such large chests, that if they were to live to adulthood, they would die of heart attacks. (They are slaughtered as adolescents.)
In the coming decades, we could begin feeling the effects of peak oil, global climate change*, or scarcity of fresh water. Individually, any one of these could put great strain upon food production and distribution. Two of three of these phenomena occuring in tandem could have severe consequences. In light of this, South Korea might want to keep in mind that every pound of food that is saved is a pound of food that does not have to be imported. In other words, reducing food wastage helps to improve Korea’s food security.
Fortunately, the government is taking steps to try to reduce food wastage.
However, it is at the level of the individual, not the government, that will determine whether or not there will be less waste. Most restaurants don’t offer doggy bags, and even if they did, most Korean customers seem to have little interest in taking leftover food with them. In my opinion, many Koreans are still haunted by their impoverished past, and wish to prove that that past is behind them by conspicuous consumption. Leaving unfinished food is a sign of wealth.
I hope that attitudes change here, because I believe that it would be beneficial for Korea. It is a resource-poor country, and the future is always unknown. It can be difficult to learn how to conserve if wastefulness has become a way of life. I should point out that other countries are also being encouraged to be more efficient.
It’s good for all of us.
* There’s a 97 per cent consensus among scientists that that greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of climate change. The debate is over how quickly climate change will take place and what its consequences will be, not over its existence.
Paul Roberts, The End of Food, 2008
Written by Richard Stansfield (email@example.com).
The writer has been living and teaching English in Korea since 1996. The views of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of Seoul Selection.
|Seoul Baekje Museum to Open on April 30
Seoul is well known as the former capital of the Joseon Dynasty, which left it with most of the palaces, fortress walls and other historical sites visited by Seoulites and foreign tourists today. Described as a “time machine” that shines light on the ancient history and culture of Seoul by focusing on its period as capital of the Baekje kingdom, between 18BC and 475AD, the museum introduces objects from Baekje, as well as Goguryeo and Silla, other kingdoms that later occupied the hotly contested Hangang River basin. The striking new museum building both echoes the contours of the Baekje-era Mongchontoseong Earthen Fortress and resembles a seaborne ship—a reference to the importance to Baekje of trade with neighboring China and Japan.
MORE INFO: (02) 2152-5811, baekjemuseum.seoul.go.kr
GETTING THERE: Mongchontoseong Station, Line 8, Exit 1. Walk 10 minutes.
|Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music 2012—Mystical Voice
Now back for a seventh year running, Seoul Spring Festival of Chamber Music is one of the highlights of the city’s classical music calendar. Over the years, SSF has created an unprecedentedly solid classical music fan base in Seoul, while bringing in some of the world’s top musicians, helping raise Seoul’s profile on the international music map, cultivating new young musicians and providing several concerts free of charge each year in outdoor locations throughout the city.
This year’s SSF is based on the theme, “Mystical Voice,” a term that refers to the violin and the proximity of its sound to those produced by the human voice box. A special highlight will be the presence of global violin virtuoso Maxim Vengerov, whose concert at Seoul Arts Center on May 1 will feature Handel’s Violin Sonata No.4 in D Major Op.1 No.13, Bach’s Partita for Violin Solo No.2 in D Minor, BWV 1004, and Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No.9 in A Major “Kreutzer” Op.47.
Another new attraction at this year’s SSF will be the introduction of a new genre: the musical play, which features acting and speaking in addition to music.
VENUE: LG Arts Center, Seoul Arts Center, Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Deoksugung Palace, Yongsan Art Hall
PERIOD: Apr 30—May 13
ADMISSION: Depends on program
MORE INFO: (02) 712-4879, www.seoulspring.org
Seoul in Rossetti’s Eyes, 1902—1903
This fascinating exhibit features 200 photographs taken by Italian Consul to Korea Carlo Rossetti in 1902 and 1903, Rosseti’s accounts and photos of Korea amounted to one of the most detailed depictions of Korea at the turn of the 20th century. Not to be missed by any self-respecting Korean history buff.
VENUE: Seoul Museum of History
PERIOD: April 26—July 1
MORE INFO: (02) 724-0274-6
GETTING THERE: Five minute walk from Exit 7, Gwanghwamun Station, Line 5
Free Screening: ‘My Heart is Not Broken Yet’
The Women’s Global Solidarity Action Network (WGSAN) will be hosting a free documentary film screening of “My Heart is Not Broken Yet”, a powerful testimony of Song Shin-do Halmoni’s continued fight for justice as a former “comfort woman” (women who were drafted into military sexual slavery during the Japanese occupation in World War II). Come watch this courageous survivor, witness her story, and help raise global awareness so we can get this issue resolved in 2012. “My
Heart is Not Broken Yet” tells the story of the trail and struggle of Song Sin-do Halmoni who has continually campaigned for redress on the issue of the “comfort women.” Although she lost the trial she states that “my soul is undefeated” which reveals her desire to fight for justice.
VENUE: Screening room on the fourth floor at the Seoul Women’s Plaza
DATE: April 29, 3pm
GETTING THERE: To get to Seoul Women’s Plaza, go out exit 3 of Daebang Station on line 1, walk 50m into the left alley.
Lady Gaga—The Born This Way Ball
Since 2007, Hyundai’s Super Concert series has drawn a long and varied string of truly top class acts including Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Usher, Beyonce, Wiener Philharmoniker and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to Korea. This time, pop aristocrat Lady Gaga will be gracing the Korean Peninsula with her presence as part of her Born This Way Ball Global Tour—don’t miss the chance to see one of the world’s most flamboyant performers.
VENUE: Jamsil Sports Complex
DATE: Apr 27, 8pm
ADMISSION: Standing: 125,000 won, R: 132,000 won, S: 88,000 won, A: 77,000 won, B: 55,000 won
MORE INFO: 1577-6000
GETTING THERE: Sports Complex Station, Line 2, Exit 6 or 7.
Blonde Redhead is in fact an American alternative rock band that creates music described by Filter magazine as ”Atmospheric, dream-induced-electro-indie-pop.” 2010 saw the release of their eighth studio album, “Penny Sparkle,” after which they were successfully lured into Korea by progressive promotion/booking/art organization Super Color Super.
DATE: May 4, 7pm
ADMISSION: 75,000 won (67,000 won in advance)
MORE INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.supercolorsuper.com
GETTING THERE: Gwangnaru Station, Line 5, Exit 2.
|Finn Juhl Century Exhibition
Daelim Contemporary Art museum has been playing a pioneering role in raising the profile of art and design in the context of everyday lifestyle over the past few years—particularly successful recent exhibitions have included “Inside Paul Smith” (2010), “Dieter Rams—Less & More” (2011) and “Work in Progress” (2011-2012), which introduced the photography of Karl Lagerfeld. This time, the focus is on Northern European furniture through a retrospective exhibition of Japanese collector Oda Noritsugu’s collection of works by Danish design master Finn Juhl (1912-1989).
VENUE: Daelim Contemporary Art Museum
PERIOD: Apr 26—Sep 23
ADMISSION: Adults: 5,000 won, Youths: 3,000 won, Children: 2,000 won
MORE INFO: (02) 720-0667, www.daelimmuseum.org
GETTING THERE: Gyeongbokgung Station, Line 3, Exit 4. Walk 5 minutes in the direction of the Blue House.
|The 13th Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF)
Southwestern Korea, with its wild tea festivals, stunning temples and outstanding food, is a great place to be in spring. On the way down there or back up, make sure you drop in to Jeonju for its international film festival (Apr 26—May 4). The festival catchphrase this year is “Sympathize and Change,” while the poster image is one of a butterfly, symbolizing Jeonju’s aspirations to make an impact on the global film stage through a quasi-butterfly effect, despite its small size. Anyway, the important element of the festival is, of course, the film line-up. No worries here: JIFF 2012 offers a dazzling array of alternative and independent films from around the world. Well worth the trip for indie film buffs. Free shuttle buses for foreigners to Jeonju depart daily at 8am from in front of Donghwa Duty Free Shop in Gwanghwamun.
VENUE: Jeonju Cinema Town, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do
PERIOD: Apr 26—May 4
ADMISSION: Depends on program
MORE INFO: (02) 2285-5433, www.jiff.or.kr
GETTING THERE: It takes two hours to get from Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Jeonju by express bus. Take a cab from the terminal. It takes 20 minutes to get to the festival venue.
Special Lecture on Korean Culture for Foreigners
Hollym Corp. Publishers will be holding a public lecture series on Korean culture for foreigners. Anyone with a love for Korea can enjoy this series, an opportunity to better approach the genuine beauty of the country. The first lecture is “Korean Flavors: Spring Greens Bibimbap & Azalea Hwajeon” by Yoon Sookja of the Institute of Traditional Korean Food. In this lecture, the cultural and social significance of certain foods and the Korean tradition of medicinal importance of food will be explored. Those attending will have the chance to make dishes and taste them themselves. The lecture will be given in Korean and English simultaneously.
VENUE: Institute of Traditional Korean Food
DATE: April 26, 1pm
MORE INFO: See this link.
GETTING THERE: The Institute of Traditional Korean Food is on the left side of the road leading from Exit 6, Jongno 3-ga Station (Lines 1, 3 & 5) to the front gate of Changdeokgung Palace.
Old Incheon: A Walk through Korea since 1876
During this excursion to old Incheon, we will explore the many layers of Korean history since 1876, when the Treaty of Ganghwa with Japan forced Korea to open three ports to trade, one of which was Incheon. Incheon, or Jemulpo as it was called at the time, developed soon after to serve the needs of foreign traders. Trade brought Western missionaries, who built churches and schools; Chinese traders established a community that became Korea’s largest Chinatown. Many of the buildings and other landmarks of this early “international history” still remain.
DATE: April 29
COST: 20,000 won for RAS members, 24,000 won for non-members
MORE INFO: See this link.
GETTING THERE: See link above.
Changgyeonggung Palace at night
Changgyeonggung Palace at night. Changgyeonggung will be open at night on April 24—26. Photo by Robert Koehler.
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Brenda Paik Sunoo’s New Website
– Writer and photographer Brenda Paik Sunoo, author of “Seaweed and Shamans,” “Vietnam Moment” and “Moon Tides: Jeju Island Grannies of the Sea,” has opened a new multimedia website, www.brendasunoo.com
. Go over and check it out now.
Shinhan Bank’s Seoul Global Center
– Shinhan Bank has launched its own Seoul Global Center on the first floor of Gwanghwamun’s Seoul Finance Center. This is a branch specially made for foreigners, with financial consulting services for foreigners (individual/group), financial counsellings at your place of work (even for one person) and commemorative events such as special rates on currency exchange and interest rates. For more information, contact Deputy General Manager Jeon at (02) 773-3149
Learn Korean Traditional Dance
– Chumsae Dance School is offering lessons on Korean traditional dance. Morning (10:00—11:30, Tue Thu), afternoon (4:00—5:30, Mon Wed) and evening classes (7:30—9:00 Tue Thu) available. Classes are limited to 10 persons each. Tuition is 200,000 won a month. For more information, call (02- 762-7731
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Freelance Contributors Wanted – SEOUL magazine needs writers who are fluent in both Korean and English. Writers should be able to interview Koreans and also have a strong interest in Korean culture. Send your resume and writing samples to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Buy & Sell Used Books – Seoul Selection buys and sells used books in English. Unlike our regular selection of publications that specialize in Korea-related topics, our Used Book Section carries books on all subjects. It’s all part of our effort to make life easier for the English-speaking community.
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Public Sector Reform in ASEAN Member Countries and Korea
National Palace Museum of Korea – General Catalogue
Korean Families: Continuity and Change
Pororo Season 4 (Vol. 1)