JB Life October 2016


The Fall 2016 issue of Jeollabuk-do's only English-language lifestyle and travel magazine.

Jeollabuk-do’s International Magazine

October 2016, Issue #4

Registration No. ISSN: 2508-1284

164 Palgwajeong-ro, Deokjin-gu, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, Korea

Tel:(+82) 63-214-5605~6 Fax: (+82) 63-214-5608

Jeonbuk Life Staff:


M.A. Communication & Rhetoric


Anjee is a ten-year resident of Jeonju

and visiting professor at Chonbuk National

University. While living here, she

has traveled to 42 countries as well as

explored and photographed most parts

of the Korean peninsula. She is the English

editor of CBNU’s student magazine

and has worked extensively with

10 Magazine in Seoul.


B.A. Humanities/Classical Languages


David came to Jeonbuk in 2004. In

2006, he created the Jeonju Hub website

to help foreign residents and has

been highly active in outreach since.

After 4 years operating a saloon and

5 running a restaurant, he works as a

corporate English consultant. He lives

with his wife, Jeonju artist Cheon Jeong

Kyeong, and two children.

AMIYA MORETTA is a passionate storyteller interested

in unearthing the poetry of everyday life. She

is a Fulbright scholar and a graduate of Whittier

College who is currently teaching English in Jeonju.

You can see more of her work on her personal blog

at ichoosetomove.com.

BETSEY NORMAN has been living in Korea for about

3 years. She teaches English speaking at Chonbuk

National University High School. Before coming to

Korea she was a high school teacher in Minnesota.

Betsey loves writing, reading, eating and dancing.

BONNIE CUNNINGHAM, U.S., B.A. Visual Arts, is a

new teacher in Korea. She loves to travel and make

artwork along the way. While she currently focuses

on painting, her background is in film and video.

She is excited to be living here and looks forward

to whatever it lends to her artwork.

DAN OCTON has lived in Jeonju since 2009 and,

despite leaving soon, considers it a second home.

He took up photography as a hobby two years ago

and is actively trying to improve in all aspects of it.

He loves movies, music, and football.

DEAN CRAWFORD watches lots of films, meaning

he’s a bit of a geek and spends a lot of time on his

own in dark rooms. After working in the UK film industry

at Hogwarts and the X-Mansion, Dean now

resides in Jeonju where he writes about his two favorite

things, films and food!

GREG TIMLIN has been living, working, and aging

in Iksan for over 12 years. He first settled in Asia

in 1994, where his love for photography, traveling,

and this region bloomed. Hobbies include exploring

the countryside by motorcycle, exploring the

mind through teaching, and nice wine.

HEATHER ALLMAN, a U.S. native, has been living

and teaching English in Jeonju for 1.5 years. With

a background in International Relations and Spanish,

she has a dexterity for language. Writing and

traveling are her two favorites, so she thought,

why not do them both at once?

MARLI JANSE VAN VUUREN is from South Africa.

She has degrees in both teaching and photography

and and is a big fan of Dachshunds.

JB LIFE is published by the JBCIA

(Jeonbuk Center for International Affairs)

전라북도 국제교류센터


BA Biological Science


Dowon is a member of JBCIA and

delivers stories of what is happening

in the center and what the center does

for Jeollabuk-do. She has lived in New

Zealand so she loves meeting new people

from diverse countries. Passionate

about food, cycle, music and dogs. You

can ask about the center through her

e-mail at dwkim411@jbcia.or.kr.




Dr. Park has been teaching English for

33 years, with interests in various levels

from young learner to university.

He has worked for several universities

in Jeonju, Gwangju, and Daejeon, and

maintains strong connections with several

Western and Asian universities. He

is especially interested in training university

students for their job searches.

MIRIAM LEE, B.A. History/Anthropology, can most

likely be found singing in the hallways of the Jeonju

English Center, where she teaches 5th graders.

Miriam, who avidly defends her noraebang title,

also won 3rd place in a Care Bears coloring contest

in Jersey City in 1986.

RENEE McMILLAN has been living and teaching in

Jeonju for five years. A recovering actress, Renee

has become addicted to travel and photography.

She enjoys sharing her stories and adventures,

and is excited to work with JB Life in capturing the

beauty of Jeollabukdo.

SHELLEY ASPDEN has spent the last 4.5 years

studying, practicing, and living yoga. She is an enthusiast

for nature, health, and fitness. Jeonju has

been her home and support network since 2009

and emphasize how the community fostered her

journey along the way.

SILAYAN CASINO is a multi-lingual Eurasian American

with nearly 6 years’ English teaching experience

in Korea. Hobbies include traveling, writing,

photography and learning languages. She teaches

at CBNU and is an active member of Antioch International

Christian Fellowship.

SUSAN KIM, an L.A. native and Korean American,

came to Korea to discover her culture. Although

lazy most of the time, she does have a passion for

travel, cooking, eating, and wine. She worked in

the marketing and advertising industry for years

before arriving in Korea.

SUZANNE SCHNEIDER, co-founder of REACH ministries,

is passionate about raising awareness on

trafficking and prostitution. She is co-author of

the textbook series Practical Writing and works at

Jeonju University. Suzanne is president of Jeonju-North


SWARNALEE DUTTA, a native of India, has been living

in Jeonju for 2 years, working as a postdoctoral

scientist at the National Institute of Agricultural

Sciences. While her toddler keeps her happily busy,

she loves to read and keeps learning whatever life

holds out for her.

Jeollabuk-do Global Living

Fall 2016 / Issue #4

Jeonbuk Life is a quarterly project of the Jeollabuk-do

Center for International Affairs. Our goal is to spread news

to Jeollabuk-do’s international community, as well as to

carry news of Jeonbuk throughout Korea and abroad. This

magazine is currently published once per season, in April,

July, October, and January.

To get involved, email jeonbuklife@gmail.com
















- International Center News


- Cheonho Holy Grounds


- Bhoga Yoga


- Gimje Horizon Festival


- Getting Wild in Wanju


- “Empty Man” by Greg Timlin


- Painting with Words: Focus on Korean Calligraphy

- Motopia: The Art of Mohamed Fawzy


- Pho Hanoi


- Bubble Ball Korea


- Confucianism in Jeonbuk


- Being Neighborly

- Walk for Freedom


- Youngwoo Park

- Susan Kim


- Focus on Poetry


- “The Future is Dark”



Jeonbuk Life 3


Staying Global with the

As of this fall, the Jeonbuk Center for International

Affairs (JBCIA) has been in operation for a full

year. During that time, this magazine, JB Life,

has blossomed and published four quarterly issues as one of

the Center’s projects. Next year, the magazine will move to a

bi-monthly production. Besides this, the center has managed

international YouTube vloggers and world-class foreign speakers

and performers and has promoted a variety of volunteer opportunities

to connect the international population of Jeonbuk

to its local community. All in all, you could say it’s been an excellent

first year. Now, looking forward to the end of 2016 and

beyond, here are the programs the JBCIA is currently working

on to push Jeollabuk-do to be even more globally minded.




JBCIA attended the 34th annual Korean academic conference

directed by NAKS (the National Association for Korean

Schools) and sponsored by the JBCIA in July. It was held in

Denver, Colorado for three days. This conference is held every

year for Korean-American students and Korean school teachers

from all the US states, including Hawaii, and also those

from Canada.

LEFT: A photo from the NAKS ceremony in Colorado. RIGHT:

Participants in the first JISU Friends Day.

JBCIA had a booth to display beautiful Korean letters

(hangul) and beautiful Korean paper (hanji) to demonstrate

how they are used in our daily lives. Center representatives

gave a lecture for the teachers and judged a Korean speech

competition, selecting one student who will be visiting Jeollabuk-do

in December to take etiquette lessons and tour the


Besides this, center representatives held a meeting with 14

branches from all the other states to broaden mutual exchange

between Jeollabuk-do and the U.S. The exchange will be mainly

between each country’s elementary and middle schools. The

hope is that students can share language, folk songs, dance, and

so on to showcase the roots of where they are from and display

the history and culture of Jeollabuk-do and Korea. The center

hopes to enjoy more of such vivid exchanges in the future.


On August 20th, 40 people from JISU (the JBCIA’s Jeollabuk-do

International Supporters Unity group) and Chinese

students from overseas participated in a ‘Friends Day’.

The supporters and foreign students were mixed into teams

to work on the program. They visited Buan-gun to see the West

coast and had a chance to dig out clams in the mudflats togeth-

Members of the Foreign

Students Public Relations Team.

er. They also visited Naesosa temple, one of the famous tour

sites in Jeonbuk. Here, they learned the history of Buddhism

in Jeonbuk and had a short-term experience of temple life.

There will be another ‘Friends Day’ in the middle of November

geared toward a different nationality. If you wish

to offer suggestions or to participate, please e-mail: dwkim411@jbcia.or.kr.



The JBCIA’s 1st Foreign Students Public Relations Team,

formed from May to July to promote the province through

photos and video, recently closed out their business and

held an awards ceremony. Their work continues with a new

team, though, as the 2nd Foreign Students PR Team also

held their orientation. The second team’s activity has just

begun with more diverse countries than the first. A total of 33

students are currently signed up. They are from China(22),

Vietnam(3), Sri Lanka(2), Mongolia(2), Taiwan(1), Ecuador(1),

and Uzbekistan(1) and have been arranged into eight

photo teams and three video teams. We look forward to each

team’s photos and videos about Jeollabuk-do.

JBCIA recently held its Jeollabuk-do International Exchange

& Overseas Students Festival, and to light up the

entrance, the center put up some materials to make a gallery.

The content included an introduction of the Foreign Students

PR Team and each team’s past activities. This gallery could

be enjoyed by lots of students and community members who

visited the festival on that day, seeing how much the PR team

has worked on so far to promote the province, and many had

Attendees of the

Mock UN lead-up meeting.

a joyful time using the gallery as a photo booth. The 2nd P.R.

team’s students were also there, both enjoying their work

and planning for the next event.


The “Jeollabuk-do Mock UN Meeting” will be held on October

29th for two days. It is designed to enhance the global

capacity of young people in Jeonbuk and to give a taste of

debate and diplomacy on a pending issue. Participants will

survey the steps involved in the international organization’s

decision making.

At this event, there will be both Korean-speaking and

English-speaking committees. Topics are The Future of UN

Development and Cooperation to Eradicate Global Extreme

Poverty (for Korean-speakers), and The International Community’s

Policy Responses to Threats of Global Climate

Change (for the English-speaking committee).

It took two months to gather the right university students to

chair the group (7), form the delegations (49 middle school

students, 31 high school students), and produce 20 observers

and staff, all from Jeonbuk. All involved had an orientation

on August 6th to see what a mock UN meeting is, how it

progresses, and the steps and rules they follow. After the

orientation, each delegation submitted a position paper and

working paper for the nation it represents. These delegations

have had unofficial meetings every month to practice progress

and rules of order for the upcoming official meeting.


Jeonbuk Life 5




Jeonbuk Life Co-Editor




Jeollabuk-do has held events separately for marriage-immigrant

women and also for international students. But

until now, there was nothing offered that was directed at all

foreigners inclusively. As such, JBCIA planned and held an

event called the ‘International Exchange and Overseas Students

Festival’ for foreign workers, immigrant women, international

students, teachers, and any other expats. It took

place on the 10th of September at CBNU’s Samsung Center.

Among those present were Jeollabuk-do Governor Song

Hajin, CBNU President Lee Namho, Ambassador Peteris

Vaivars from Latvia, Consul-General Sun Xianyu of the

Consulate-General of China in Gwangju, a total 9 different

Embassy involved parties and Jeonbuk residents, foreigners

living in Jeonbuk, etc. Over 2,000 people gathered and participated

in the programs that JBCIA and CBNU prepared.

The programs were mostly organized by JBCIA. There

was a town-hall meeting with the Governor, a History and

Culture Quiz with foreigners and residents, and a round of

Golden Bell quiz game for international students. Especially

well attended were the town-hall meeting with the Governor

and special lectures on foreign relationships. The turnout

was overwhelming and far greater than expected. The partricipants

were passionate in learning and questioning. It was

a very valuable time and a positive multi-cultural encounter.

The multi-cultural showcase booths offered a splendid variety

for the senses, including takoyaki, churros, mojitos, pad

thai, Vietnamese rice noodles, and more. Participants also

took part in traditional games and activities, tried on traditional

clothing of various nations, and made handcrafted

Vietnamese hats. The invited dignitaries also made a giant

festival-sized bibimbap and took in a stage-based taekwondo

performance. A diverse array of colorful costumes and a

warm festival spirit was ever-present throughout the event.

The evening program consisted of students’ performances

and a bright highlight -- a special guest appearance by K-POP

star, Hyuna.

This was the first of hopefully many such events designed

to give an opportunity to sample elements of Jeonbuk’s

sprouting cultural diversity.

[Photos of the International

Exchange & Overseas Students

Festival, courtesy of JBCIA]

In the heart of the Korean countryside is a remote

valley with rich soil and abundant fruit trees. This

valley seems especially fertile, and tranquil. It is

Cheonho, in the Gosan area of Wanju county, about 40

minutes northeast of Jeonju. There is holy ground here.

Many people take foot pilgrimages to reach this place,

called Cheonho-Seongji (천호성지), in search of healing

and spiritual growth. The site also serves to commemorate

an important bit of local history. The people

here say “it’s where yesterday meets tomorrow.”

The place is about 25 minutes north-east of Bong-

Dong. Drawing near, it is apparent that the Cheonho

Valley’s soil is darker, and there are many fruit trees and

greenhouses. The valley is distinctively fertile. If the

healing vibe here is real, then the plants are certainly

into it.

Coming into the site itself, visitors are greeted by a

Rio-esque statue of Jesus. The sprawling landscapes and

stairways that follow are truly stunning, and blanketed in

peace. There is a large cafeteria facility, and a spacious

chapel. Then, the grand stairs up to the burial mounds.

Here lie the remains of four priests and more than a

dozen others. In 1866, they were arrested and brought to

Supjeong-i, in Jeonju. There, they were beheaded, on a

single split log, with one large implement. It was the second

known Christian martyrdom on Korean soil. Their

names were Jeong Munho “Bartholomew” (66), Son

Seonji “Peter” (47), Han Jaegwon “Joseph” (33), and Yi

Meongso “Peter” (47). Their heads were placed on pikes

to discourage others from following their teachings.

Today, the Cheonho Holy Grounds are a historic site

renowned for healing powers. There is a newish chapel

on the site, and a house next door, where couples can

take a retreat, with discreet family counseling, all free.

There is also a large, modern cafeteria, providing free

lunch daily to area seniors and visitors.

It is a quiet, welcoming place that wants nothing from

you but offers peace. Step onto holy ground and into

Jeonbuk’s rich history.

ABOVE: The never-ending stairs to the top

of the Cheonho Holy Grounds.


Jeonbuk Life 7


By Shelley


(Photos by

Dan Octon)

Six years ago, due to half a year of chemotherapy

treatment, life wasn’t a bed of roses. However,

the Jeonju community that we all know and

love kept providing me with everything I needed. One

of the biggest offerings was being introduced to a man

who showed me a practice, lifestyle, and way of being

that transformed me. I called him ‘Sonsaengnim’, and he

taught me, and many others, Yoga.

Yoga for me, at the start, was stretching. A physical activity

that bendy people did, to become more bendy and so

that you could sit cross legged. I suppose looking back, I

wasn’t wrong: being flexible and being able to move your

physical body freely without worry of pain or discomfort

is a wonderful byproduct of yoga. Many people understand

modern-day yoga to be a physical practice, like

an exercise class, where you work the physical body to

achieve physical strength, flexibility, balance; a form of

body conditioning.

However, yoga is much more. It is an esoteric science

that explores the body, mind, and spirit as one entity,

so that one can move toward balance in a systematic,

soul-honoring way. Yoga originated in India over 5,000

years ago. The philosophy and teachings come from ancient

spiritual traditions, but it’s really important to emphasise

here, YOGA IS NOT A RELIGION. Yoga takes

beneficial teachings from all areas of life, such as culture,

nature, science, and religion, to make a well-balanced and

powerful tool, one which we can use every day to improve

our lives. Many people are confused by what yoga is,

where it comes from, why and how we practice. Hopefully,

I will be able to briefly share with you my understanding

of what yoga is, and help clarify what it is not.

History of Yoga

Yoga encompasses ancient holistic and spiritual practices

that aim to find balance and harmony in the physical,

mental, and emotional bodies. This balance is known as

sattva in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the ancient language of India,

and is the language used in yoga. As yoga was born

and created in India, it makes perfect sense that it has links

to themes and language of Hinduism and Buddhism (the

main religions of that time), however, it does not mean

that the teachings of yoga are religious.

There are certain traditional texts which are very important

for a yogic aspirant to become familiar with in order

to understand and benefit from yoga as a holistic practice.

One of the most influential texts, which explains the

depths of yoga is, ‘The Yoga Sutras’, written by Patanjali

somewhere between 1,700 and 2,200 years ago. Patanjali

gave simple directions on how to access our full potential,

allowing us to move towards enlightenment. Other

ancient texts, such as The Hatha Yoga Pradipika and The

Bhagavad Gita also discuss these practices and how to

achieve a state of homeostasis within the mind and body.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a lifestyle, a way of living, that aims to bring

harmony to the individual by helping them to become

more sensitive and connected to their inner happiness,

rather than external distractions. These external distractions

are everywhere in modern societies: for example,

food, music, clothes, relationships, TV etc. We are constantly

looking for happiness from external objects, people,

and situations. However, what we’ve lost and need to

reconnect with is the ability to listen internally, to our true

needs. When we begin to do this, our path and focus in life

changes. This new path is not easy, and many challenges

present themselves, but yoga gives us the tools to traverse

this path with sthira (stability) and sukha (comfort).

“Yoga is 1% theory,

99% practice”.

--Shri K. Pattabhi Jois g

Jeonbuk Life 9


This quote sums up yoga beautifully. It’s all well and good studying, reading,

theorizing and discussing about yoga, but we have to actually do it. I

don’t just mean the asanas (postures), but all aspects, from the moral and

ethical codes of conduct, to the surrendering to the Divine (whatever that is to

you, Mother Nature, the sun, God, etc.).

What are the Yoga


In Patanjali’s ancient text, ‘The Yoga Sutras’, it discussed a path described

as the ‘8 limbs of yoga’. These 8 branches of the yogic path start with the

foundational practices allowing the aspirant to move towards Samadhi, enlightenment,

in a harmonious and stable fashion.

The 8 stages are:

● Yama (universal moral values to create harmony with all beings)

● Niyamas (personal ethical observances within oneself)

● Asana (physical postures that create a resonance with beneficial universal

energies, and aim to attain energetic balance within ourselves)

● Pranayama (energy / prana control)

● Pratyahara (detachment from the senses)

● Dharana (concentration)

● Dhyana (meditation)

● Samadhi (the stage of realisation of the True Self and ultimate fusion with

the Divine)


“Yoga chitta vritti nirodha”

This Sanskrit phrase is probably the most common and widely known explanation

of what yoga is. There are several translations, but the most simple

to understand is that,

“Yoga is the cessation

of the fluctuations of the


Basically, we aim to calm the uncontrolled thoughts of the mind, to find

balance and harmony.

By following these 8 paths of yoga, the uncontrolled thoughts within the

mind stop, and we find balance and harmony in this stillness. The 8 limbs are

the tools which we can use to find sattva (balance).

As you can see, yoga is much more than the physical postures that you practice

in a class. But I suppose you’re asking, why has the physical practice of

yoga, the asanas, become so popular in modern society? Health and fitness is a

booming industry, and people are always looking for new ways to make their

bodies fitter and healthier. In the past 20 years, people

have begun to notice the amazing physical benefits that

yoga can have on the body. As modern society is very

external, we are constantly engaging with the senses, and

society has attached itself to the external, physical benefits

of yoga which can be seen everywhere. For example,

we see ‘Instagram yogis’ who are physically strong, agile,

flexible, toned, etc., and naturally we want to look and

be like that. But what people don’t understand is that,

for many of those yogis, they have been on a long and

never ending journey of self exploration, practicing not

only the asanas (physical postures) but also the other 7

limbs. What we need to highlight is that it’s the journey,

(physically, mentally, and emotionally), that is important,

not the end product, which in modern yoga, many view as

the asanas (postures).


I personally have had conflicting views and discussions

with friends, fellow teachers and practitioners about the

role asana (physical postures) has in modern society. My

yoga journey began by practicing asana. If my teacher

had tried to teach me about energy and the subtle aspects

of my being, I probably would have never returned. As

the classes were in Korean and my understanding of the

language was limited, I didn’t understand what he was

saying. But the feeling I was getting from the classes

was changing me. At that point in my life, I didn’t even

understand or have a relationship with my own physical

body, so expecting me to understand subtle relationships

relating to energy/prana would have been too obscure

and confusing. Therefore I feel there is a genuine need

for asana classes that focus on creating physical health

and strength in the body. But at the same time acknowledging

the deeper aspects of yoga is essential, though in a

simple and progressive way. Unfortunately, here in Korea

and many places in the modern society, yoga studios

are just teaching exercise classes based on pilates and select

yoga asanas. I have been to yoga classes in Korea

that have had blaring K-pop, flashing lights, and full-on

dance routines. This is not yoga in the traditional sense.

However, if it’s a doorway for someone to then explore

further into yoga, then we cannot deny it has a role.

The asanas (physical postures) help prepare the physical

body for the more subtle energy practices. If our

physical body is not in good health, we cannot effectively

practice energy control. The postures also act as


Jeonbuk Life 11


a tuning device, like on a radio, so that we can connect

with beneficial energies. The wonderful thing is that even

though we don’t know we are doing it and cannot feel this

at first, as long as our awareness stays internal and we follow

the guide of the teacher, we will be connecting to these

energies. The asanas help create physical space, giving

us the physical ability to sit in meditative postures for long

periods of time without discomfort. Also, practicing asana

makes you feel good, physically and mentally. By using

the physical body and focusing our awareness on a particular

point, e.g the breath or chakra, the mind begins to

quiet, become calm, and be less erratic, leading to feelings

of relaxation and harmony.


So what are the practices in yoga that engage in energy

control and balance? Everything is energy. This has been

clarified by modern-day science, however, this simple but

important fact was always known by ancient yogis. From

the physical to the most subtle, energy is the life force within

each and everyone of us. It is also the force that connects

us to everyone and everything.

Yoga uses many practices to help improve the quality and

quantity of this energy, remove energy blockages and create

balance within energy centers located within us. This

energy is known as prana in yoga. Prana flows through

energy lines within us, called nadis, and helps maintain all

physical, mental, and emotional functions. Along these energy

lines are energy centers called chakras. By maintaining

good quality, free-flowing prana along blockage free

nadis, our chakras can function optimally, allowing us to

live a balanced and harmonious life.

So from this, we can see that yoga is about energy. Energy

in its grossest and most subtle forms. The grossest aspect

of ourselves is the physical body, and the most subtle

are those processes that go beyond the mind. In yoga, we

aim to unite these aspects, the gross and the physical, the

body and the mind, so we see that they are not separate,

but one.

Bhoga Yoga:


Now that I’ve explained what yoga is, let me introduce

you to our beautiful yoga community here in Jeonju. Bhoga

Yoga began in 2013, in a small taekwondo studio in Ajungli.

As a newly qualified yoga teacher who was extremely

nervous and apprehensive, I found the Jeonju community,

as always, took a leap of faith with me and joined our

weekly classes. From our humble days in Ajungli, we have

developed and expanded. We are now hosted by Body for

Mind Yoga studio in Hyojadong. The yoga director, Park

Sang Mi, has been a supporter of Bhoga Yoga since 2014,

and we are all so grateful for her help and support.

The classes I teach range from beginner Hatha flow to

intermediate vinyasa flow. Each class has 4 elements:

philosophy discussion, meditation, pranayama, and asana.

This helps give people an insight into the deeper aspects

of yoga, not just the physical practice. I also teach regular

workshops, ranging from Ashtanga Modified Primary series

workshops to Chakra-specific workshops. The workshops

are attended by all levels of practitioners from all

over Korea. We are currently moving through a 7-month

series of workshops, focusing each month on a specific

chakra. This systematic approach to exploring the chakras

allows people the time and space to build a strong foundation

for their practice, as well integrating these practices

into their everyday lives.

This year and last, we integrated our yoga practcse into

a beautiful mountain hike up Godoksan, near Jeonju. To

practice in nature, with the fresh cool air blowing on your

skin, really invigorates the soul! Our weekly classes are

live-streamed on Periscope so our Bhoga Yogis who live in

different areas of the world can join us too!

The main intention of Bhoga Yoga, was, and still is, to

create a community where people feel safe and supported

to explore their true selves, whilst having fun!

‘Bhoga’ is a Sanskrit

word that means

‘conscious enjoyment’...

...and that’s exactly what we do during our classes and

workshops. We maintain the playful mind of a child, while

bringing our mind under control with compassion and kindness.

For those who have had a consistent and regular practice,

they will agree that taking the yogic path isn’t easy. We

become more aware of everything and everyone, as well

as becoming more sensitive to external disturbances. For

many, the realization that we have the power to control our

own lives is liberating. However, acknowledging that taking

this challenge on is at times scary and difficult, makes

people return back to old habits.

But that’s the beauty of having a community like ours: we

support each other. During the last three and a half years,

the community of Bhoga Yoga has grown together. We’ve

all experienced our own challenges, but have chosen to explore

the potential in each one for growth.

Jeonju has provided me the secure and safe space to develop

as a yoga teacher, and to truly explore who I really

am. For this, Jeonju, I am so grateful. My time in Jeonju

is coming to a close, as I shall be leaving in November

2016,to explore new challenges, hoping to become a fulltime

yoga teacher. With only two workshops left at the end

of September and October, I hope our Bhoga Yoga community,

throughout Korea and the world, maintains their dedication

to their practice and commitment to making their

lives healthier and happier.

For more information please check out our Bhoga Yoga -

Jeonju Facebook group, and the BhogaYoga website (http://

www.bhoga-yoga.com). For those residing in Jeonju after

I leave, I also highly recommend checking out the studios

that have helped me along the way in Jeonju, including

Body for Mind studio in Hyoja-dong and Myeongsang

Yoga in Inhudong.

Jeonbuk Life 13


Among 43 cultural festivals taking place

around Korea this year, the Ministry of

Tourism chose the Gimje Horizon Festival

as one of its featured Top 3. This was a fitting chance

for an event that is now in its 18th year but has perhaps

not gotten the attention it deserves.

What makes this festival so special? First and foremost,

the setting. “Horizon Festival” stands as the

name among many aspects of the event because of,

well, the horizon (in Korean, jipyeongseon). Gimje

is said to be the only inland location in Korea where

one can see the horizon over flat land. And at this

time of year, what a spectacular horizon it is. The

rice fields stretch on in a golden hue before harvest,

accented by spreads of purple-tinged cosmos flowers.

Locally crafted scarecrows and decorative hay

bales also help craft the silhouette of sunrise and sunset,

giving a particularly autumnal feel.

For the festival time, though, there’s something noticeably

different on the horizon – dragons. This is


By ANJEE DISANTO, Jeonbuk Life Co-Editor

[Shots courtesy of Gimje Public Relations]

Jeonbuk Life 15


mid-300s in the Baekje dynasty and was a key to irrigating

land throughout tough times in Korea. It’s only

fitting, then, to celebrate the prosperity of modern Korea

and Gimje’s “rice bowl” in particular in this spot.

While the Horizon Festival takes place just one weekend

each Fall, the charm of Gimje and its local farming

culture extend far beyond that single span of days. If

the festival’s not on, come here to check out the golden

or bright green rice fields, the handmade scarecrows,

the lakes of white lotus flowers (in summer), the scenes

of every season at Geumsansa, or the feast of local

foods. And the dragons… well, in spirit, they are always

guarding the area, but in body, they’ll be back at

the same time each year.t

the theme that likely comes up the most in people’s

grand photos and memories of the Horizon festival.

For one, two giant bamboo dragons loom on the horizon

line over the festival, meant to represent the legendary

dragons that are said to guard Byeokgeolje, the

festival ground. These bamboo beasts stand against

dramatic sunrises and sunsets in the daytime and below

torrents of festival fireworks or launched lanterns

at night. Two moving dragons manned by locals, a

colorful white and blue, might be seen meandering

and performing amid the grounds as well.

Besides a bit of spectacle, the Horizon Fest offers

some ways for locals and tourists to get back to the area’s

roots (both figuratively and otherwise). The event

has long served as a way to connect to the farming

culture of the region, which many call the “rice bowl”

of Korea. Of course this can involve “connecting” to

farming in a more literal way, such as by learning how

to harvest rice, but this getting down and dirty it not

everyone’s cup of tea.

Luckily, the experiences related to the farming culture

extend much further. Take the case of samulnori.

These percussion quartets involving two gongs and

two drums serve as the rhythmic backdrop to so many

events in Korea, but the practice itself is also rooted in

rice farming and the celebration of a harvest. With this

in mind, Gimje’s festival understandably features this

art form prominently. Another performance rooted

in farming culture, nongak, is a spotlight in Gimje as

well. This is the dance we so often see in Korea with

tri-colored pompom hats, circles of instruments, and

mild feats of acrobatics. As with any festival in Korea,

these more traditional music displays are mixed

with modern performances like Kpop-style shows, so

it’s easy to get your fill of whatever you fancy.

As for other traditions, a giant tug of war contest

and ssireum, Korean folk wrestling, are bound to

be on the itinerary in this rural setting. Less daring

activities like kite flying, which takes place in staggering

amounts over the dragon-donning horizon,

are available, too, along with special events: several

years ago, festival-organizers endeavored to make the

world’s longest rice cake, for instance, and this year, a

makkeoli sub-festival featured a setting to sample the

extra-local brew.

Of course you’re sure to find a full spread of cuisine

at the Horizon Fest, as is true of most large-scale

Korean gatherings, as well as experiential programs

like wearing hanboks. (Gimje’s festival also offers a

full-on traditional wedding experience, if the hanboks

themselves are not enough.)

But a last thing to consider when noting the importance

of this local festival is the history behind

the setting. Byeokgeolje, the reservoir at the festival

grounds, is said to be the oldest reservoir made my

man on the peninsula. This feature dates back to the

Side Trips

While in Gimje, one might make a variety of side

trips to take in the local culture and cuisine.

Among the options, we’ll offer up just two ideas for this

issue: historic Geumsansa and hearty local beef sashimi.

Geumsansa, the treasured “Golden Mountain Temple,”

rests on the back slope of Moak mountain nearby prime

hiking trails. Built in the Baekje era around 600, the temple

houses a variety of national treasures, including the

three-tiered Mireukjeon Hall in the temple’s main courtyard.

Besides its multiple stories, which are not that characteristic

of Korean temple structures, this hall houses a

trio of stunning, larger-than life golden buddhas, including

a Mireuksa (future) Buddha. The carvings and artwork on

many of the numerous temple doors and walls are exquisite

here, too – a great place to look into the small, thoughtful

details of Korean Buddhist architecture.

Besides its treasures, Geumsansa is renowned for its

TempleStay program and its scenery for any season.

Cherry blossoms dot the grounds and the walk to the temple

in the spring, a time when the courtyard comes alive

with lanterns. Summer brings lush greenery and flowers

all around, while the backdrop of Mt. Moak bursts into

reds and oranges in autumn. Even winter is a site to behold

at Geumsansa, when snow caps the mountain’s peak and

icicles hang from each roof tile.

If you work up an appetite while touring the Gimje area,

many local foods are more than worthy of a try, but we’d

particular recommend trying some yook sashimi, made

with local hanwoo. Hanwoo is Korean beef, and while

eating raw beef might be unusual in some cultures, it’s

definitely a delicacy in Korea. The meat is typically served

in relatively thin, red slivers alongside a flavorful sauce to

kick things up a notch. And even to a skeptical Westerner,

the taste might surprise you, as the meat itself has an almost

melt-in-your-mouth consistency.

For this beef sashimi, you might check out Chongche

Bori Hanwoo Zone in Gimje’s Oksandong area, or, if willing

to go a bit further, Wonpyeong Jipyeongseon Cheongbori

Hanwoo Zone in Wonpyeong.

These are only two of many things Gimje has to offer in

addition to the Horizon Festival. Check out future issues

of JB Life for more detail on these and other local high





Jeonbuk Life Co-Editor

I’ve always felt that Korean cuisine had an element of

earthy, outdoorsy charm. Meats of every manner are

barbecued upon open fires, ajummas pluck greens at

the roadside to mix into delectable side dishes, and ranges of

pungent and salty earth and sea critters pop up as unexpected

accompaniments to many meals.

But a trip to Wanju’s “Wild Food Festival” revealed an

even deeper connection to the outdoors through local fare.

In terms of food, the Wanju festival typically highlights two

ends of a spectrum: the tame-yet-tasty modern specialties of

the local region and the rarely used ingredients and cooking

methods of the past. For many, it’s the latter that would naturally

be of more interest, and this side of the festival definitely

did not disappoint.

One of the highlights: entomophagy. A section of the

grounds devoted to Wanju-based entomophagy (insects as

food) exhibited both traditional and fusion methods of eating

some delicious creepy crawlies. Fried beetles were nicely

spiced, crunchy, and only mildly disconcerting, while pinesmoked

grasshopper skewers offered a similar yet somehow

more gourmet experience. Salty clumps of meal worms

seemed to be a favorite even with kids, one of whom commented

they “tasted like French fries.” These worms made

their way into lollipops as well.

For the truly adventurous, fried frogs popped up alongside

the insects, with chefs cooking them in pepper and sesame

in front of audiences. Although I’d tried frog legs before,

like many in attendance, I was skeptical; luckily, it turns out

that the Korean style of breading and seasoning makes even

the seemingly frightening taste food-worthy. And escargot

cutlet? While a surprising addition to the mix, this fusion

offering seemed rather similar to the pork dish we all love.

Perhaps this is the cutlet of the future?

Elsewhere on the festival grounds, foods became adventurous

simply through their catching or cooking methods, even

if the ingredients were rather normal. Young and old were

invited to catch their own salmon in the nearby stream. Afterward,

the winnings were coated in coarse salt and could be

cooked en masse via oven or grilled patiently over charcoal

and clay pits. Many chose the latter, opting for a chance to

share the quiet camaraderie round an outside fire that we so

miss in modern times.

Clay and mud proved to be a common element in cooking

here. Meat strips like samgyeopsal were wrapped in oiled

paper or lotus leaves and stuffed into deep red clay, after

which they cooked in a massive clay oven. A similar method

baked chickens inside of weighty clay clumps. And the

result? All of these truly earthen methods ended, for me,

as proof of a personal theory of mine: that nearly anything

cooked in clay will turn out delicious.

Of course, the bulk of these adventures represent traditional

methods and ingredients of cooking, ones which are

rarely used today for the sake of convenience. This is why

another half of the festival seeks to highlight the most common

Wanju foods and ingredients of today.

Eight ingredients are the most lauded in Wanju’s “wild”

inventory, though the festival reflected that there are in fact

many more. Dried, candied persimmons and persimmon

vinegar are two of the eight, and appeared both solo and in

dishes at the festival. Ginger, onions, garlic, and jujubes

make up more of the local food treasures, along with hanwoo

beef. Rounding out the list were strawberries, mostly

on offer through thick smoothies of fresh-picked berries.

And while fried frogs, snail patties, and clay-roasted

samgyeopsal might sound exciting, the modern local foods

and their accompanying market were just as worth a visit.

There also I tasted and sampled items in ways that were foreign

to me, from ingredients using every available bit of the

lotus plant to extra-strong alcohols brewed from fruits I’d

never seen in person. To any adventurous chef, the abundance

of lesser-known grains, spices, and locally grown

vegetables would be a great find, too.

We often see our local “wild” ingredients only in small

doses in local markets or at highway rest stops. The same

goes for traditional cooking methods, which pop up only at

specialty restaurants these days (if we’re lucky!). Any opportunity

to easily escape to the countryside, and in some

ways, to the past, ought to be an ultimate wish of any true

foodie. In Wanju, it turns out, there are plenty “wild” wishes

to be fulfilled.

While the Wanju Wild Food Festival only runs once per

year in the Fall, many of the mentioned ingredients and dishes

can be experienced through local markets and restaurants.

Visit www.wanju.go.kr/tour to browse the local foods and


PHOTOS: [FAR LEFT] A clay oven and prepared samgyeopsal strips. [NEAR LEFT] A brave

volunteer steps up to taste the body of a fried frog. [RIGHT, FROM TOP] Grasshopper skewers,

18 snail cutlet, and salmon roasting over a clay-pit fire. [Photos by ANJEE DISANTO]

Jeonbuk Life 19


Heosu Abi (허수아비) is the Korean word for scarecrow.

The component parts of the term literally translate

to “empty” and “man.” But to me, they are not empty

at all.

Scarecrows have been a fixture of farm-country since time

immemorial -- probably since the dawn of agriculture. Over

the years, in addition to fulfilling their bird-repelling duties,

they have wended their way into the fabric of the human psyche,

symbols of innocence or evil, in whatever form of media

they are being portrayed. But in this day and age, do you really

see them standing guard above crops anymore? Do you?

Where I come from, the old-school strawman-scarecrows

are all but gone, replaced by higher-tech solutions using

shiny synthetic ribbons, “noise-guns” and the like. Big farming

has taken all the art out of the endeavor.

In Korea though, it’s another story.

I have been living in Jeollabuk-do, South Korea’s most rural

province, for over eleven years. It’s a world apart from

the frenetic-paced, crowded streets of Seoul, with its sleek

buildings and 24-hour everything. Over the past few years,

I have taught at up to eight different schools a week for the

Iksan Board of Education, almost all of them servicing tiny

farming communities in the very outskirts of town.

The largest of these schools has 45 kids. And the smallest

of them has a student body of eight. Eight! There are more

cars parked on its soccer field (it has no parking lot) than

there are students (who are not numerous enough for a soccer

team). Outside its yard are a handful of old houses surrounded

by the crops this small community survives off of. Pretty

much all of my schools are set in similar surroundings, and

exploring these small hamlets while I make my way to and

from work has become something of a passion.

I’ve noticed that farming here seems to be on a much

smaller scale than in North America. Often enough, crops

are still sown and harvested by hand. Family and neighbors

work the fields together and lay the goods they have grown

on the sides of the roads to dry out in the sun.

One day, on a dusty road that was barely wide enough for

all four wheels of a mid-sized car, I stumbled upon a sight:

the torso of a ghostly white boy in a polo shirt hovering

above a muddy field, on a pole. It was an old mannequin

re-purposed to ward off birds, cool and creepy as hell, out

here in the middle of nowhere. So I took some pictures of it.

Over time, I found more of these cleverly crafted scarecrows

among the fields of these small farms, and started to

see them as the folk-art that they are. I would meet

Jeonbuk Life 21



some of their creators when they come over to see why a

Canadian dude was knee-deep in their crops, and could hear

them speak with pride of their creations.

Materials varied from scarecrow to scarecrow. Some had

on dress-shirts, winter jackets, or dresses, some used ramyeon

packaging, buckets, road cones, hats of all types, beer

cans, flags, shoes, teddy bears, and much, much more.

One thing became clear to me: some spoke of more than

the farmer’s simple need to ward away birds. Some were

telling a story perhaps, or were an outlet of creativity or

emotion for their creators. They were beautiful.

One of my favorite finds was taken on a gloomy day last

December. I was buzzing around the wee backroads, as I do,

when the sun unexpectedly penetrated the thick cloud-cover.

I thought I might get a nice shot of a well-known local

mountain, Mireuksan, in the awesome light that was then

developing. Boots ankle-deep in water and mud, I found a

vantage point I liked, looked through my view-finder, and

zoomed in. There, exactly where and when I would most

like a scarecrow to be, one was. A doozy! It was not one,

but two scarecrows - combined! And not just any old pair of

scarecrows, but clearly an “adult” and a “child.”

I asked myself, why? Why would someone do this? Was

this scarecrow couple scarier to birds than a solo one, or

somehow more effective? I’m pretty sure that’s not the

case. I tried to imagine scenarios that could explain their

existence: a grandparent and child made them as a bonding

experience? Or perhaps they were made by a parent in

mourning? Or by a proud parent-to-be? I felt someone had

a pressing desire to express something here, some emotion

or story. And I will never know it. A mystery.

And like some Rorschach test, I can’t help but wonder

what these farmland sentinels reveal about my own state of

mind as I see in them this persona or that facial expression.

All the same though, I just can’t stop myself from seeking

them out.

Where I used to speed through the curvaceous uncrowded

country roads on my motorcycle, I now troll them slowly,

camera on the ready, scanning the fields and horizon for my

new favorite subject.

For more images of scarecrows and the Korean countryside,

search for “greggusan” and his photostream on Flickr.

Jeonbuk Life 23


Focus on







On the edge of the friendly but quiet courtyard

of the Korean Traditional Culture Center in

Jeonju, the new and growing building just

northeast of downtown (you have probably seen it walking

from Art Box to HomePlus), there sits a glass-fronted

calligraphy studio and shop. Inside, a warm and down-toearth

man is crafting his passion, helping the young and

old to love Hangul.

Even the newest of foreign visitors to Korea will likely

have heard the basic history and superiority of the written

Korean language, Hangul. It is a remarkably straightforward

and logical language. (You’ll have heard some version

of how even a complete idiot can learn it in a week.)

It is as reliable in its logic as English is not.

Hangul was a genius invention, any proud Korean student

or linguistics scholar will tell you, especially on the national

holiday on October 8th, which is set aside to celebrate

the language. It happens to follow International Literacy

Day by exactly a month. Hangul is one of the proudest elements

of Korean culture, and with good reason. It is probably

at the core of Korea’s very impressive literacy rate (in

fact North Korea proclaims itself first in the world at 100%

literate). Hangul is a relatively young language, created by

the much-loved Joseon ruler King Sejong around the year

1446. It was designed to help the common people become

literate, and it was extremely successful. Beyond simply

being phonetically logical, the letters provide specific instructions

for placement of lips and teeth.

According to an article in the Economist on Hangul

Day of 2013 (October 8), in the fifteenth century, Hangul

wasn’t immediately embraced by the elite Joseon scholars,

but was mainly used by women and less educated

students. Its use was not encouraged until the 19th century

by the Japanese, in an effort to gain control over the

Korean peninsula from China. Later more control still

was gained by forcing the use of the Japanese language.

In a country with as much national pride as Korea, even

without such a special language, it would seem to follow

almost naturally that there would be a strong tradition of

calligraphy. In many festivals around the country, a street

performance of clacking drums and anachronistic drama

can be seen; a man in flowing white robes wields a massive

paint brush against a large white sheet on the ground.

With speed and drama he drips and sloshes, scrapes and

drags out a massive message. (If it wasn’t already a tradition

it would make an amazing graphic novel - a frustrated

protagonist fights an unseen dragon with an unrealistically

large ink paint brush). The final product is large and

loud black ink in thick, juicy slabs.

I have to admit that I don’t entirely get it. These tend

to be the displays that I’m left wondering why other

tourists are so closely filming. It is certainly culturally

interesting, but not exactly aesthetically breathtaking. I

do consider myself a fan of calligraphy in general (and

not just because I’ve found that my elementary students

much prefer a swirly and loopy “Great Job!” on their

workbook pages to any giraffe or Pororo sticker). I waste

a great deal of time with handwritten letters and compilations

of Pinterest and YouTube calligraphy videos. Still,

I struggle to see the beauty in these calligraphic displays.

Perhaps it is just that ornateness is not a strong suit of

Hangul. In fact it is its simplicity and utilitarian purity

that make it so special.

I suspect that the artist in the KTCC calligraphy center

might agree, as he sits down for a JB Life interview. Seo

Jae Jook, a native of Jeonju, started his career in graphic

design. As he describes the beauty and precision with

which letters are arranged on a page, I can’t help but be

reminded of Steve Jobs giving his inspirational “Stay

Hungry” speech to Stanford and his revolutionary interest

in the very same thing.

When I ask about the calligraphy performances he

gives once or twice a year, for the New Year and other

holidays, he seems as lukewarm towards the idea as

I am. He prefers to discuss the words themselves, how

they make people feel. He offers classes to students

Jeonbuk Life 25



with enough of a command of Korean to explore dual

meanings and word play. (Sadly, mine won’t do, as

I demonstrate an inability to recognize the words for

“smile” and “road” that have been cleverly displayed

on the wall of the studio.)

His cedar-scented studio is pleasantly arranged with

examples of his work, curving and circling into one appealing,

if hard to decipher, shape. The characters turn

out to be a kind of visual onomatopoeia, with words

playfully and poetically arranged to extend their meaning.

The shapes are fat and friendly and unpretentious.

A line of brightly colored clocks point toward his small

office. He explains that the cultural center requested

that he design clocks for the young building complex.

When I inquire about what I assume to be a deeper

meaning about time or life, he just says all the rooms

needed new clocks.

This is not the painfully precise lesson in perfect

penmanship that I was expecting. Nor was it a deeply

spiritual look into the beauties of imperfections I vaguely

remembered from the Asian art history class I took

fifteen years ago. In an effort to better understand, I

watched a clip of a presentation given to the Korea Society

by Korean calligrapher Park Byoung Chul. He calls

himself a letter farmer, planting the seeds and letting

the words bloom. He explains that what was a tradition

named for “fashionable elegance” has taken on an entirely

new life without restrictions or standards, which

leaves immense space for expression and play. In fact,

he claims that the only shared elements between traditional

and modern calligraphy are the paper, the brush,

and the ink stone and slab.

Due to the youth and simplicity of the language, Mr.

Seo explains, plenty of room for expression is left. He

quickly draws a word I’ve seen surreptitiously appear

on my classroom white boards many times: ddong!

똥! He illustrates how the D sound can be slightly stylized

to make a butt, the long line of the “oh” sound can

represent the intestines, and the final velar nasal stop

(-ng sound), usually a simple circle, can illustrate in

various shapes the very word it is indicating!

I ask about his favorite brush, gesturing to the hanging

circles of perfectly clean but aged traditional paint

and ink brushes prominently placed on the photogenic

walls of his studio. I suppose I was expecting him to

display his favorite teacher’s ancient tool, but I share

his delight when, after waving his hand over shelves

full of pens of different colors and tip sizes, he pulls

from a secretive spot in his office a shining blue box,

and with a grin opens it to reveal the complete rainbow

set of, you guessed it, gel pens.

This is the beauty of Korean culture, I think. The

ancient and the modern can intertwine in a way that

is both clashing and seamless. A seventy-five-year-old

woman selling homemade tofu on a sidewalk in front

of a loud cell phone store, an elegant hanok gracing

the entrance to the most modern IMAX theater, both

moving forward and honoring history. Feelings about

the smell of rice in autumn in ancient ink and gel pen

highlights. And how better to truly celebrate the Korean

people’s history than with the honesty and unpretentious

accessibility with which Hangul was created.

For the New Year’s Day holiday, Seo Jae Jook can

be found in the courtyard performing a calligraphic

ceremony, painting encouraging and inspirational

words for the new year. Around the studio there

are many examples of positive and poetic messages,

some his own and some quotations, on mugs and fans

and even a dodecahedronal calendar. He says he often

works with people to find the right message or word

to have inscribed on a gift for a particular occasion.

Gifts of calendars and coffee mugs are available for

very reasonable prices, and you can even have your

own name chop made, complete with the minute

notches that will make your signature stamp uncopiable.

He is quite proud to explain how he made a signature

chop for a recent Norwegian visitor, and can do

the same for you in twenty or thirty minutes.

The shop at KTCC is open to visitors from Monday

to Saturday from 10am until 7pm with additional

Sunday hours during the holiday and festival seasons.

PHOTOS: [PREVIOUS PAGES] Fans and scrolls

decorated by the artist in his studio. [RIGHT] Two

of the artist’s works on display in his workshop,

and Mr. Seo himself explaining how to bend words.


Jeonbuk Life 27


Inside the World of Mohamed Fawzy


Jeonbuk Life Contributing Writer

What does “Motopia” mean? Well, it is derived

from the word “utopia,” which means

an idyllic world. It is also the nickname of

an Egyptian artist, Mohamed, living in the vicinity of

Gimje. Read on and learn more about Motopia!


workshops at the Jesuit Culture Center in Alexandria.

This work eventually led him to Siwa Oasis. The Siwa

Oasis is an Egyptian desert oasis found in Africa’s northeast,

near the Libyan border.

In Siwa, Mohamed built his own house. All he rented

was a shelter. He used many recycled materials, salt

stones, and whatever natural resources he could find to

make a home for himself for about ten years. He also built

a cultural center and library for the children. The families

and children he worked with in Siwa were relatively


Mohamed was born in Alexandria and moved to the

UAE as a young boy. The eldest of four children, he grew

up with a loving father, an engineer, who taught him many

things about art. They spent many hours making things by

hand. This eventually sparked Mohamed’s interest in pursuing

art as a career. But from the time he started elementary

school, Mohamed was “forbidden” from doing any

more art work. His art supplies and materials were hidden

away from him, though secretly, he continued.

In 1995, Motopia returned to Egypt, to Alexandria,

where he at first pursued biology but later changed his

academic focus to anthropology and art. Two years later,

in 1997, he began working full-time in art and teaching

art to children. He started offering private and children’s

LEFT: A work that occupies a full wall in Fawzy’s

Gimje studio. RIGHT: One of the many wire animal

sculptures that are characteristic of Fawzy’s style.


Jeonbuk Life 29


LEFT: A copy of a children’s book designed by

Fawzy before coming to Korea.

RIGHT: The artist himself in front of one of his

large-scale works. [Photos by ANJEE DISANTO]

poor and couldn’t afford much. For this reason, Mohamed’s

art workshops were free. He used whatever he

had earned or saved from Alexandria to make this contribution

to the Berber-speaking people of Siwa. Why?

One of Motopoia’s goals was to instill, release, creative

expression in children. However, many in that

Muslim culture consider art expression forbidden

because of their religion. Through his workshops,

though, girls and boys were allowed to do art together,

where they normally wouldn’t have been allowed

to, as gender segregation is common in Islam. His

years in Siwa were good to him and he was grateful

to have had the opportunity to live among that community.

From Siwa, Motopia returned for a while to Alexandria,

before moving to South Korea in 2013. His

decision to move was a big one. His wife was Korean

and they decided to make their life together in South

Korea. When he left Egypt, Mohamad “threw away,”

disposed of thousands of pieces of artwork he had

collected in order to open up a children’s discovery

museum. Unfortunately, that project was not realized,

but coming to Korea was really a new beginning for

Mohamad. It was not really his choice, but he is accepting

his fate and is making the most of his situation.

Major and Minor


Over the course of his art career, Mohamad has

had 40 solo exhibitions, seven of which took place in

Korea. He has also participated in five non-solo exhibitions,

mostly in Seoul, the most recent one having

been in Busan. His exhibits consist mostly of paintings,

drawings, sculpture, photography, and video art.

In Egypt, in fact, he was featured several times in design,

architecture, and art magazines, as well as on


He has also gained much experience working with

street children. He discovered that some organizations

encourage work with street children and then take

advantage of the earnings the children make. This

brought him to work directly with the children to empower

them more.

In Alexandria, Motopia had a brief experience with

modern dance and “live” painting. What is this, you

may be wondering? It is a performance in which the

back wall of the stage is covered in cardboard paper

while paint and brushes front the wall. As the artists

dance, they also pick up the brushes and paint. This

was part of a one-month workshop during which the

story and music were created. The modern dance with

live painting performance was the culmination of this


Another touching experience Motopia encountered,

was in Kathmandu, Nepal. We learned that Motopia’s

passion is working and helping children develop a

more scientific and cultured side from within through

art. In Nepal, for just a short time of about three

months, he worked with blind children, teaching them

sculpture and drawing. It may seem impossible, but

the challenge certainly paid off. He was very pleased

to see that the results of the blind children “were similar

to those of seeing children of the same ages.” Truly


Life in Korea

Motopia’s life in Korea has not exactly been a utopia.

During his time in Gimje, he has been harassed

and targeted as a terrorist, simply because of his name

and where he comes from. Mohamed does not even

practice Islam. He was born into that religion, but

being away from his family, with his lifestyle as an

artist, he is content the way he is. Islam is a religion

the same way Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism

are religions. Terrorism exists in many,


Jeonbuk Life 31


not necessarily all, societies. It is an act of extremism.

There seems to be a strong misperception or misunderstanding

about exactly who terrorists are. Just because

he is Muslim, he stresses, it does NOT mean he

is a terrorist. Mohamed is an artist, and a very gifted

one at that.

Still, one of his neighbor’s whom he was helping

with something reported him to the police. Mohamad

is living in a foreign country, an unfamiliar culture,

and has had to tolerate this kind of racism in his new

home. Is this fair? No. Do his activities as an artist,

participating in exhibitions around Korea, and taking

part in artist in residence programs, reflect those of an

extremist, a terrorist? No. To this day, his activities

have been observed by police, though he is no longer

being harassed. Despite this negative experience, he

will pursue a life in Gimje. The language barrier, as

for many of us expats, limits his ability to integrate

into the community, though somehow he has managed

for the past two years since moving to this rural area

from Seoul.

During his time in Korea, Mohamed has discovered

new interests and new art mediums. He is fond of Korean

paper, hanji, and would like to use it to make

clothes at some point. In addition, he likes the Korean

transparent fabric called boshi. He would like to use

this to experiment making sculptures with wire. Calligraphy

is another one of Mohamed’s interests. He

has worked a little in combining Japanese calligraphy

with Arabic calligraphy, and would be interested in

doing something similar with Korean and Arabic calligraphy.

Fairly recently, Mohamad also started drawing

old Korean houses, from around the 1920’s. He

lives in such a house himself (maybe a little younger

than from the 1920’s) and enjoys the architectural


Since 1996, Mohamad’s inspiration for working

with children has been somewhat personal. He said,

“I feel alive when I

work with children.”

The past two years, however, he has had few opportunities

to teach or work with children. He said

he doesn’t teach so much as help children “discover”

what they can do. He added that working with children,

he has the opportunity to get so many new ideas

from them. Mohamed shared that in Egypt, children

are generally deprived of experimenting with art. So

he felt they needed someone to motivate them, to find

a way to bring out their creativity as individuals. This

may be similar in Korea, where parents’ focus on education

is paramount and any sort of creative discovery

is secondary.

His hope is to stay in Gimje, to learn more Korean in

order to be able to communicate with people around

him, and to open workshops for children again. Eventually,

he’d like to buy some land and build a big art

school and library for children. His real, true passion

is working with children to help them understand

themselves; to help them discover certain social and

cultural hobbies; and to develop scientific thinking,

creativity, and imagination.

If you’re interested in learning more about Motopia,

seeing some art work, or coloring some of his

pictures, it’s very possible. He has written several

children’s books, including one in Korea that was

published in 2014. It’s title is 해복 바다에 무슨 일

이 일어났을까 by 모하메드 파우지 이브라힘 칼

레드. He is also currently working on compiling a

coloring book, for adults. You may view more of his

works on his web site at http://www.motopia-art.net/

or contact him by searching for “Mohamed Fawzy”

on Facebook. He welcomes contact with anyone:

artists, art fans, parents with children, and more.

LEFT: Detail of an illustration from Fawzy’s

Korean-language children’s book. ABOVE and

RIGHT: Two large-scale cloth-based works on

the walls of Fawzy’s studio..


Jeonbuk Life 33


A Taste of Vietnam’s North



Jeonbuk Life Contributing Writer

Jeonju’s inclusion into the Lonely Planet’s Top 10

Places to Visit in 2016 primarily came down to

two factors. The country’s largest Hanok Village

is a sight to behold, particularly at night, when lanterns

bathe the area in traditional lights, transporting you back

through 1000 years of Korean history. And for those that

reside in area, you’d be hard pressed to hear anyone deny

that Jeonju is undoubtedly the culinary capital of Korea.

Despite the city continuing to develop and the newest

hotspot for food and drink, Shinshigaji, offering a wealth

of bars and restaurants, the one slight complaint that Jeonju

expats may bemoan is the foreign food choices, in particular,

the options for authentic South East Asian cuisine.

And when it comes to Vietnamese food, Ashley Bui, the

owner and head chef at Pho Hanoi, would certainly agree.

As a result, she took it upon herself to open a restaurant

with one simple remit: to provide the authentic flavors

of Vietnam to Korean diners via a genuine Vietnamese


“I want people to come

here and feel like they are

coming to my home.”

“Vietnamese, Korean, foreigners…they can find a family

here,” she says with a beaming smile.

The latest in a family of culinary artists hailing from

Hanoi, it took over 10 years of living in Jeonju for Ashley

to finally take the plunge to open Pho Hanoi in April. Using

recipes passed down from generation to generation,

Bui simply decided it was time to bring the true taste of

Vietnam to Jeonju.

“There any many restaurants around that don’t feel like

they are real Vietnamese and more fusion. Here we serve

authentic Vietnamese food. People who have been to Vietnam

can definitely find the taste that they like.”

So dedicated is she to creating that authentic taste, she

has weekly shipments of herbs and spices sent straight

from Vietnam, as anything other than the best simply

won’t do. Restaurants from Hanoi to Ho Chi


Jeonbuk Life 35


Minh have their distinct flavours, so she refuses to

make her food generic.

Having travelled much of Vietnam, I cant attest that

Pho Hanoi certainly offers an authentic feel. Lotus

flowers handcrafted by Ashley herself hang from the

the ceiling, while soothing Vietnamese music plays

over the PA. The aromatic smell of Cà phê đá (traditional

Vietnamese coffee) makes this place feel unlike

any other Vietnamese restaurant I’ve tried in the city.

But Pho Hanoi is more than it’s handicrafts and coffee.

Ashley exerts a painstaking effort to make sure

that the food is the star of the show. Not only are the

majority of her ingredients straight from Vietnam, but

her mother also works in the kitchen, ensuring that

the family recipes are being adhered to. To some,

this might seem extreme, but Ashely has been cooking

since she was 11. To her, this dedication isn’t an

extravagance, but a necessity. When I asked why she

doesn’t buy her ingredients locally, she simply replied,

“I can’t find what I need in Jeonju, so that’s the

only way to keep the flavor and traditional taste.”

Consider the nation’s most recognizable dish, pho.

What some may simply see as as a dish of steamed

water and a few herbs is a dish for which her family

has been perfecting the recipe for years.

“The main flavor is the bone, but it takes a lot of

work. We cook it for 12 hours, but for the first 2

hours, I always have to check it. The heat rises, so I

have to make sure the broth is always pure and clean.

Unlike Korean food, which is cooked with a strong

heat, I have to cook our broth on a low heat for a long

time, putting in more water. We use brisket and muscle

from the cow, which has a great flavour.”

It is only then that she can add more traditional seasonings

such as cinnamon, dry shrimp, onions, and

ginger. It seems like a real labor of love in a quest

for perfection, especially when she tells me that her

brother makes a point of travelling all over her home

country looking for the best pho combinations. While

this may seem extreme, it is definitely worth the effort.

Ashley informed me that one should be able to tell

from the first sip if the broth is fresh, and fresh it is.

It’s fragrant, flavorful and downright delicious. Without

sounding too melancholic, the first taste took me

back to eating pho on the streets of Ho Chi Minh. The

Pho Bo was not too sweet and definitely not too salty.

The fresh, aromatic taste left no desire to add the Vietnamese

chili sauce provided. I can honestly say it’s

the best pho I’ve had in Jeonju, if not Korea.

While a food critic has no option but to try pho bo

whilst visiting a Vietnamese restaurant, another dish

that comes highly recommended from local expats is

the Xoi Ga, fried chicken with a sticky rice. Cooked

in coconut juice, cinnamon, star anise, and, as I was

told, “a special seasoning from the forest in Vietnam”

(which no doubt arrives in the aforementioned weekly

package from her sister), the chicken is fried to perfection

and pairs perfectly with the sticky rice. I also tried

the spring rolls and a Vietnamese coffee. A fitting start

and end to a delicious meal. Despite my best efforts to

try everything on the menu, as I got a bit full on the

delicious food, Ashley informed me of the other more

popular dishes.

“Foreigners love the Bun Cha (vermicelli with BBQ

pork, meatballs and spring rolls) because President

Obama came to Vietnam and tried it with a bottle of

Hanoi beer. We place a topping with stir fried beef on

top. So it’s really good for a hot summer day!”

But what about the locals? What does the Korean

population ask for?

“For the Koreans, they really love the Pho Tap Cam

Cay (satay rice noodle with seafood and beef) - it’s

spicy! But we can reduce the spice made to order. They

also love the fried rice (Com Bo Xao) with stir fried

beef that is seasoned with lemon grass and many kinds

of herbs. One bowl of pho and this is a very popular


As she said this, I overheard a young Korean couple

walk through the door saying “맛있는 냄새” and order

exactly that. It is obvious that she knows her food and

her clientele extremely well.

“Koreans enjoy our

restaurant because they

have a feeling like they

are in Vietnam.”

She proclaims this with a shy smile. “My customers

say this is the real taste (of Vietnam) and they come

back again.”

I know I certainly will.

I felt nothing but welcome during my time in Pho Hanoi

and left feeling more than satisfied. With opening

hours of 10am - 10pm and no breaks taken even during

national holidays, I suggest that you, too, take a trip off

the main strip of Shinshikaji and give Pho Hanoi a try.

PHOTOS: Previous pages -- A bowl of bun cha

with the backdrop of Pho Hanoi’s bright dining

room; a xio ga plate with fragrant sticky rice.

[Photos by ANJEE DISANTO] These pages --

classic pho [photo by ANJEE DISANTO] and cha

gio [photo by DEAN CRAWFORD].

Jeonbuk Life 37


with “Bubble Ball”


Jeonbuk Life Contributing Writer

Over the past few years, Bubble Ball has quickly

gained popularity worldwide. Now played

in over 200 countries, it is a smashing way for

groups of people to combine their love of fun, sport, and all

things, well, bouncy. If you’ve ever had the urge to knock

your friends down at full speed without any sense of regret,

Bubble Ball is the sport for you.

Think it’s a good time to score? Bubble Ball is available

year round in the Jeollabuk-do area, as it can be played

both inside and out. Nathan Weatherholt, a Florida native

currently residing in Jeonju and Co-Founder of Bubble

Ball Korea, found himself “desperately wanting to play,”

as it was apparent that the sport’s popularity was gaining in

the U.S. After numerous searches left them realizing that

Korea lacked a certain elasticity, Weatherholt and his business

partner had the idea to purchase some bubble balls for

their group of friends to enjoy. Once they recognized the

legitimate success the game had achieved across the globe,

the two decided to assist others in getting in on the action.

Operating for a little over a year, Bubble Ball Korea has

received some outstanding feedback with an abundance of

repeat customers.

Those who have experienced Bubble Ball Korea firsthand

only offer rave reviews. Referring to it as “so much

more intense and exciting” than expected, and that they

“have never played sports like this before but really

want to play again,” veterans of the game say positive

things. Dean from England declared his favorite part

to be “hurling [his] mate across the pitch!” Bubble

Ball isn’t just a game, it’s also “a great way to exercise,”

and blow off some steam. If you’re concerned

about the sport being too high impact, Lynn from the

U.S. said that, “she’s a small girl, but can play like [the]

Hulk!” Rest assured, Bubble Ball Korea is made to suit

players of any age and stature.

So what should participants expect? Weatherholt described

it as “a very odd sensation when you first get into one. You

take on a sense of invincibility, while running full steam at

your friends, smashing into them, and watching them roll like

a tumbleweed!”

The typical Bubble Ball game is a very inflated take on the

game of soccer, with two teams of five trying to get the ball

into their opponent’s goal. Reality springs into action in the

form of 5-foot-wide,10-kg inflatable bubbles adorned by each

player. While these may sound difficult for some to tackle, the

only restriction is that players must be 145 cm tall.

Bubble Ball soccer may be the most popular version of the

sport, but Bubble Ball Korea also offers games called “Bubble

Blast,” “Team Bubble Blast,” and “Capture the Flag.” Although

players are required to sign a waiver, all of the games

are extremely safe. Referees are always present to ensure that

water breaks and fair play are strictly enforced.

Bubble Ball Korea wants their customers to know that

“Safety and FUN are [the] two most important factors with

this company.” On top of that, they guarantee an amazing


If you think you’re ready to kick off, organizing a Bubble

Ball event is easy. Games can be played with as few as six

people, but the company suggests having a group of nine or

more. Larger groups can take turns playing against one another.

The customer is only required to find the playing surface

and Bubble Ball Korea will take care of the rest. An ideal

playing field is the size of a basketball court, but larger areas

can be utilized as well. Bubble Ball Korea will accommodate

customers anywhere within the North Jeolla area, but are willing

to travel further at an additional charge. If you’re in a bit

of a bind, Weatherholt said that they are “happy to help find

fields or schools to fit the customer’s needs within Jeonju” for

no extra cost. He noted that most venues will require a reservation

fee to use their facilities, which will not be included in

the Bubble Ball Korea prices.

Bubble Ball events are priced at 300,000 KRW for the first

hour, including: 10 inflatable bubbles, referees/facilitators,

soccer balls, markers, scoreboards, goal nets, and liability

waivers. Prices significantly decrease for added rounds. Special

discounts are awarded to students and corporate/school

events. The activity is suited for schools, businesses, churches,

organizations, and groups of friends.

For more information or to schedule events, visit bubbleballkorea.com.

Further inquiries can be addressed to bubbleballkorea@gmail.com.

Photos courtesy of Bubble Ball and


Jeonbuk Life 39


some regard Confucianism as suppression by cultural ideals

some regard Confucianism as the ideal expression of culture

it’s all about how we regard each other

by David van Minnen

Jeonbuk Life Co-Editor

What is the most prominent feature of Korea?

A variety of people will give you a

variety of answers to that question, such

as K-Pop, LG phones, complete domination of womens’

golf, and... mmmm the FOOD! These are noteworthy,

but they do not explain what makes Koreans stand out

from all other nations. In practical living, Korea is by

far the most strictly practicing Confucian culture on the


“The Korean way” is basically Confucian principles

rigorously practiced in daily life.

Looking at acedemia’s offering of Confucius is informative

and formative, but looking at Korea’s real-time, fleshand-blood

living offering of Confucianism sees it lived out

with gusto. Living in Korean society is to breathe in Confucian

ways. Even if you don’t live here, it’s easy to see

the Korean presence on the international stage, in business,

tech, animation, gaming, and music, just to name a few. It

is the Korean worldview and work ethic that bear the load

of the nation’s skyrocketing success.

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there are many

Koreans who are extremely proud of their heritage and

see it ebbing away under the sway of modernism. Every

developing nation can relate, in its own way.

In Korea, people think and behave very strictly

along a certain code. Living to that code

gives belonging and tells you where you

stand. Relentlessly. Korea is unique from

all other cultures mostly because of its

strict ‘lived out’ Confucianism. There is

no competition, by far, anywhere, according

to rooms full of seasoned travelers.

What is


Confucianism is an ethical

system. It is a societal

ranking system. It

is a philosophy. A way of living. The principle component:

honor thy father and mother. This is one of the

Ten Commandments, too, right? “Yes, but the fourth

commandment . . . it’s turned up way higher in Korea,”

explained a precocious teenaged girl. The entire Confucian

system is about how to properly honor and obey

your superiors. And pleasing them is how you do well in

life. Simple, right?

Confucius Himself

Confucius had a difficult life. As did we all in 500 B.C.

It may come as a surprise that he did not believe in classes

or a caste system, and his disciples were both rich and

poor together, depending on their abilty; not their birthright.

But he lived in an environment very different than

his vision. It was a time full of armed conflicts. He spent

most of his life just trying to stay alive.

He was Chinese. He had a great mind. At one point, he

was actually given a fiefdom and he had a chance to prove

that his society would work. It did, and he drew a great

following, and of course, enemies.

Especially able amongst his enemies were lords who

wanted him to stop decrying birthright. Confucius lived

much of his later years in hiding and he died in failure,

lamenting he had nobody whom he might

mentor. If the honorable wise man were alive

right now, he would be amazed at what massive

influence he’d had, and the shapes it

took in various regions.

Confucius was about equal opportunity.

He certainly did embrace an aristocracy,

but not of birth. The better people were

people of upright character. He

said all people should be educated,

without favorites. Elevation

depends on merit. He

had a great social welfare

program. He believed in

equality, in a way.



Jeonbuk Life 41


If all people are basically good, and won’t use it wrongly,

it’s a great system. Filial piety is great when theose in authority

over you are good, and nice; but not if they’re not.

His system works, and he knew it; but still, he died in

failure, thinking nobody cared.

Korea, the Epicenter’

of Confucian Principles

All of Asia knows Confucius now, to some degree.

It varies from culture to culture how strictly it is in

effect. When it comes to actual daily living, Korea

is by far the most energetically Confucian society

on the planet. One anthropologist claims all of Asia

was much more Confucian, just Korea modernized

late, and is an undried puddle of a former system.

So Korea has the most residual Confucianism because

it was so isolated and it was a late bloomer.

This way of viewing it assumes modernity is the

goal and Confucianism is a skin to be shed. However,

another way of looking at it is that Confucianism

works. All you need for it to blossom is freedom

from tyranny. The Korean way has been a way interrupted.

70 years ago, Korea was a little preoccupied

with having Shinto principles drilled into them by

occupation-installed Japanese schoolteachers. Officially,

the Korean way was on pause. It needed a

chance to grow. Then there was the war. This place

was devastated, and not so long ago. But finally,

the Korean way was free to bloom and grow. With a

little help from friends, South Korea has skyrocketed

to a great height on the world stage. Confucianism

is not a skin to be shed, but an Iron-Man suit of

successful principled harmony.

Korea has risen like a Pheonix on the wings of

Confucian principles. Buddhists and Christians may

be eager to chime in about their influence, and these

will be discussed in upcoming articles. Economists

have a great deal to say to explain Korea’s growth,

and that’s coming in the last installment of this series

as well.

The objective of this article is to assert that, of the

several layers that make up the Korean worldview,

the Confucian principles of piety wield the strongest

influence on the culture, and to celebrate some

of the good things, while identifying current trends.

Current Trends

The importance Koreans place on education leads

to great competition, from which emerges great skill.

Korea claims a 98% literacy rate. There is also the

strong family bond that other cultures seem to have

lost a generation ago. Korea has a very low street

crime presence, without a menacing police force.

Are some races just more well-behaved by nature?

Doubtful. Not DNA, but intangible cultural heritage.

It is the positive, unifying, ordering, and dominant

worldview that is to take the credit--or the blame, in

many conversations.

“Confucianism isn’t a religion; it’s, like, an operating

system,” illustrated a teenaged Korean guy,

who had lived in several cultures.

Like everywhere else, there are Koreans who celebrate

the old way with ferocious pride, as a sage

grandmother lamented, “The joy of ceremony, and

of honor, in relations . . . it’s all disappearing and we

are in danger of losing who we are.”

And, like everywhere else, there are some in this

dominant worldview that will do anything they can to

get out, or get their kids out. This trend is alarming,

as it poses an emigration brain-drain: the very people

Confucius wanted to lead the country are leaving

the country! That’s tragic. If indeed such a trend is

afoot, this is worth talking about. What makes them

want to get out to a Western country? The pursuit of

knowledge. Can Confucianism flex and synchronize

with modernity? What does it have to offer the rest

world? And what to learn from them? Your input is

encouraged. Send to JeonbukLife@gmail.com.

Whatever your appraisal of Korea’s Confucian

culture, everyone can agree that it is the most distinguishing

feature of Korea. If you know any Koreans,

or are Korean, the persistant question throbs in

the air: ‘How Korean are you?’ To describe this as

nationalism is overly political, and doesn’t see the

bigger picture. This is about morality, and identity.

It’s not something you can easily examine, when it

is you. It’s not something you can reset or turn off.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth

living.” It is a very worthwhile pursuit to see how

people tick. Especially when you are rubbing shoulders

with each other. This topic is much too broad

to adequately treat in a single article. Glancing off

the tip of the iceberg, we will careen, in part 4, into

the arms of Buddha, who exerted a huge influence

upon Korea’s spendidly and tenaciously Confucian



PREVIOUS PAGES -- Jeonju Hanggyo,

a historic Confucian school in the Hanok

Village. LEFT (top and bottom) -- Versions

of the ‘sam-taeguk,’ a symbol that recurs

throughout Neo-Confuciansim and also

ties to shamanism, Daoism, etc. ABOVE --

A ‘gat,’ a Korean hat often associated with

Confucian scholars.


42 Jeonbuk Life 43


By Renee McMillan

“Making sure kids without a

family had a gift on Christmas

was not only something I could

control, it felt like something I

had to control.”

The foreigner community in Jeonju has a long tradition

of working closely with local charities to

provide services and to raise money for ongoing

projects. From the annual Murder Mystery that raises funds

for Esther Park and the Jeonju Three, to performances of The

Vagina Monologues that donate to Jeonbuk Women’s Association

United (JWAU), many foreigners and Koreans have

spent countless hours donating time and energy to make a

contribution to the city they call home. No group has worked

as tirelessly and continuously as Neighbourly, Neighborly.

Neighbourly, Neighborly is a group of local volunteers that

works closely with orphanages in Jeonju to provide monthly

visits, as well as annual Children’s Day and Christmas presents

to approximately two hundred children. The Neighbourly,

Neighborly Facebook group was established on January

1, 2010 by Christina Murphy. Christina’s journey in creating

Neighbourly, Neighborly was a long and deeply personal one.

In 2009, Christina found herself at somewhat of a crossroads,

and was uncertain in which direction to move. Feeling


Jeonju Expats Giving Back to the Community

stuck and dissatisfied, and also feeling she had little control

over her circumstances, Christina wasn’t sure where to turn.

It was at this time she saw a post by David Van Minnen on

the Jeonju Hub requesting help for the Christmas orphanage


“He needed volunteers and direction. It surprised me that he

needed volunteers. I always thought there were loads of people

helping out with that stuff. There always were, but such is

life in Korea: people move, schedules change, and things get

in the way. I was disappointed to realize that this whole time I

thought it was being taken care of by lots of people, and guessing

that there wasn’t a need for little old me, that actually, I

could have just been participating.”

Christina contacted Van Minnen, and when she asked him

what he needed, he replied, “Everything.” Christina told him

she would do everything. She is quick to add, “I wasn’t trying

to be a hero. I just thought that my life was crap and I couldn’t

do anything about that, but I could make other changes so other

people’s lives didn’t need to be so crappy.”

Christina and David went to work figuring out what they

needed to do. They had two hundred and nineteen kids, ranging

in age from zero to nineteen, that needed gifts. They also

needed to buy gifts by gender and different preferences. They

decided to fill gift bags with notebooks, pens, stickers, candies,

gloves, and fun 1,000-won toys. Once they had determined

exactly what they needed, Christina and one of her

friends went shopping and bought everything. Christina adds,

“In a weird way, it was the first time I’d felt good for a long

while. My living room was filled with boxes of things, and on

Christmas Eve, when David Van Minnen turned up to collect

everything in his Santa suit, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t


Santa had another request for Christina. He wanted her

to visit the orphanages when the gifts were delivered so she

could see the fruits of her labor. Christina was hesitant. “He

gave me the directions and schedule for visiting the orphanages

the next day, which was something I was completely

not up for doing. I didn’t want to feel bad, as selfish as that

sounds. I couldn’t take it.” Santa insisted she visit at least one

orphanage, and when her friend who had helped said she

wanted to go, Christina reluctantly agreed.

It was raining heavily on Christmas Day, and as her friends

prepared for a Christmas party, Christina walked through the

mud to Hosung Children’s Home. Sitting on a chapel pew

with her head down, surrounded by Christmas gifts, Christina

met a young boy who would change everything. “This kid,

about seventeen years old, came up to me and started talking.

He was barely drawing breath as he told me about school, his

football team, and what he wanted to be when he was older.

He didn’t even see me as a foreigner. He just wanted to talk.

That kid opened my eyes. That room full of ‘sad orphans who

would make me feel sad’ was actually a room full of kids

who were not in ideal situations. It embarrassed me to think

of how I’d been so defeated by my own problems, when here

were kids refusing to be defeated.” Christina helped Santa

give out the gifts, and they stayed to chat and play with the


Volunteers wrap gifts for the orphanages.

(Photos courtesy of Deep Into)

kids afterwards. When it was time to leave, Christina didn’t

want to say goodbye, and she knew she wanted to see the kids

again. On the way back to the car, Christina thanked Santa,

and mentioned how surprised she was by how much the kids

just wanted to be around people. David told her he wished

they could visit more often. Christina couldn’t stop thinking

about his words, or her experiences with the kids she had met.

That night, while attending a Christmas party, Christina

spoke with other members of the Jeonju community who

were actively involved in different charities. Her mind went

into overdrive, and she decided to start a Facebook group to

see if they could create an open, ongoing community of volunteers.

Christina named the group Neighbourly, Neighborly,

using both the British and American English spellings, as well

as Hangeul, on the website. She wanted to ensure that everyone

felt included and welcome to participate.

Although Christina did create the Facebook group for

Neighbourly, Neighborly, she is very quick to point out that

she was not the first person in Jeonju to volunteer at orphanages.

She feels that she has often been given undue credit in

that regard. “Koreans and foreigners of all walks of life had

been visiting and volunteering at the orphanages and other

places long before I turned up. Throughout the lifetime of

Neighbourly, I myself, with a few friends, volunteered as

English teachers for the Jeonbuk Women’s Association United

(JWAU). It is from a lot of those experiences, from those

people and my own, that I built the Neighbourly model.”

While Christina gives credit to those that came before her,

there is no doubt that her ideas and organization, as




well as her passion and determination, were contagious. By the

end of New Years Day, over one hundred volunteers had joined

the Neighbourly group. People were excited, and were offering

ideas. The first orphanage visit was arranged, and while not

perfect, it was well received by the kids and volunteers. The

group decided to give Children’s Day gifts, and began holding

fundraisers. Month by month, Neighbourly grew, and a fourth

orphanage was added. Christina worked with local businesses

and artists, and met a lot of great people. Everything was going

so well, she decided to stay in Jeonju and continue growing

Neighbourly, Neighborly.

One of the biggest concerns Christina had when she started

Neighbourly, Neighborly was sustainability. When she was initially

deciding how best to help the orphanages, and ideas for

the group were first forming, she talked to other people who

were raising money for the Jeonju Three. “I remember having

a good conversation about sustainability.”

“Whatever good we do,

we need to make it so it

can continue rather than

just raising expectations.”

This idea took on greater significance in the fall of 2013.

Christina made the decision to leave Jeonju, and handed the

group over to Michelle Aspden, Jasmin Shurgold, and Melissa

Joynt. “It makes me really happy to see that now in its seventh

year, and with different volunteers, that the Neighbourly group

is still working,” Christina said.

With new coordinators in place, Neighbourly, Neighborly

continued under Christina’s model. In the fall of 2014, Ashley

Mishell took over the group and Neighbourly really began

growing again. Jasmin Shurgold explains, “No one could really

fill Christina’s shoes until Ashley joined. She brings new

energy and is very organized. There is never a moment when

people don’t know what to do. She follows through and puts

in the leg work when no one else will.” Under the direction

of Ashley, the group expanded their fundraising efforts. They

have added regular Bingo nights and evenings of language exchange,

and are currently holding a photography contest.

Ashley also works very hard to establish and maintain relationships

with local business owners. She helped build a

relationship with Our Shop India, who hosted a Holi Hai

event in April. Ashley also works closely with the owners of

Deep In, Deep Into, and Radio Star, who allow Neighbourly,

Neighborly to hold regular fundraising events, special drink

sales, and Christmas wrapping events in preparation for the

Christmas orphanage visits. Ashley can’t stress enough how

grateful Neighbourly is, or the importance of the role that the

local business owners play, and states, “The business owners

in Jeonju are amazing!”

Neighbourly, Neighborly will be holding several events in

the upcoming months. They will be hosting the annual Halloween

party at Deep Into in October, as well as selling calendars

that feature the winners of the photography contest. In

December, there will be Christmas present wrapping in preparation

for Santa’s orphanage visit. There is also the possibility

of a potluck dinner being hosted in November. Please visit the

Neighbourly, Neighborly Facebook page, or keep an eye on

the “Jeonju Knowledge” Facebook group for further details.

Neighbourly, Neighborly always needs volunteers, and there

are many ways that people may get involved. There is still a

need for volunteers at the monthly orphanage visits. The group

provides visits to four orphanages on a rotating schedule, so

that each orphanage should receive three visits per year. There

will also be a need for people to help with the upcoming Halloween

party, both with decorating and helping run the event

the night of the party. And as always, people contribute greatly

by attending the events that are held.

If you would like to volunteer, you may do so by joining the

Neighbourly, Neighborly Facebook group, or you may send an

email to Jeonju.neighbourlyneighborly@gmail.com. You may

also contact one of the current coordinators: Ashley Mishell,

Hyuntae Kim, Elizabeth Vargas, or Sorcha Rattigan.

Volunteering with Neighbourly, Neighborly is a great way

to contribute to your community. Jasmin Shurgold explains,

“When you look back on your time in Jeonju and what you

did, you can always be proud of your volunteer work with

Neighbourly, Neighborly. Many volunteers feel it’s a good

way to give back, and to feel grounded. It gives perspective on

your time in Korea.”

PHOTOS: [TOP RIGHT] Two photos of costumed

attendees at Deep Into’s annual Halloween party,

an event whose proceeds go toward “Neighbourly.”

(Photos by Sunwoo Hwang)

[BOTTOM RIGHT] Two photos of the “Holi Hai”

celebration in March, also partially sponsored by

Neighbourly Neighborly.

(Photos by Jyotiranjan Bal)

Jeonbuk Life 47


A21’s Fight AGAINST




Jeonbuk Life Contributing Writer

On October 15, 2016, people around the world

will unite in the war against human trafficking.

A21’s Walk for Freedom is a global event that

strives to bring awareness to human trafficking while raising

money to rescue and restore lives from the clutches

of this form of modern day slavery. A21 is a non-profit

organization that was founded in 2007 in an attempt to

combat the injustice of human trafficking through rescuing

one life at a time. They opened their first shelter for survivors

of human trafficking at the end of 2008 in Thessaloniki,

Greece. Currently, they operate shelters, transitional

homes, and administrative bases in 10 countries. The 3rd

annual worldwide Walk for Freedom will include participants

from over 250 different locations around the globe,

including Jeollabuk-do. As Korea’s first host city, Jeonju

will welcome walkers from throughout South Korea who

desire to step out and walk for freedom.

Over the past two years, Freedom Walkers have hit the

streets of downtown Jeonju, distributing thousands of fli-

ers in hopes of raising awareness about human trafficking

here in South Korea. The event will be hosted by REACH

ministries (a Christian organization founded in 2014 in Jeonju)

with the hope of bringing awareness to the issue of human

trafficking, and to reach out to victims with the love of

their religion. Since its inception, REACH has been serving

the women and men in the red-light district through prayer

and outreach.

Those desiring to participate in the 3rd annual Walk for

Freedom can sign early or simply show up at the event. In

order to sign up, send your name and contact information to

reach.jeonju@gmail.com or Facebook.com/REACHjeonju.

There is no fee to sign up. Participants can order an A21

Walk for Freedom shirt before the event for 15,000 won, or

simply wear a plain black shirt. The goal is to appear uniform,

as a united front! Walkers will meet in the Jungbu

Church parking lot at 1:30 pm in downtown Jeonju. The

one-hour walk will begin promptly at 2:00 pm.

Following the walk, REACH ministries will host a screening

of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls. Nefarious is a hard-hitting

documentary uncovering the disturbing reality of human

trafficking, especially for the purposes of sexual slavery

and exploitation. The film gives an in-depth look at how and

where slaves are purchased and sold and includes footage

from 19 different countries. In addition, Nefarious features

expert interviews and analysis as well as moving survivor

testimonies, ultimately ending with a promise of hope. The

screening will begin at 3:30 in the second floor theatre, above

Café TOV. Viewing is free of charge and all are welcome to

attend, regardless of faith or religious association.

For more information about the Walk for Freedom please

contact reach.jeonju@gmail.com.

“All that is necessary for

evil to triumph is for good

men to do nothing.”

– Edmund Burke

[Photos from last year’s walk


Jeonbuk Life 49


Looking at Korean

Ethusiasm toward



Jeonbuk Life Co-Editor

Many people around ask me why my fellow Koreans

want to educate their children so enthusiastically.

I often answer their question, “Because they

want to build up their dreams through their children. Education

is the major key that opens the gate to the rich.”

This answer will be right in some sense, but it is wrong

in some others. Education cannot give us a successful

result at every turn. Though we are willing to educate

our children eagerly, they are not ready to get this education

without good motivation. This is why I want to talk

about the method of Korean education.

Generally speaking, those who have had higher education

than others have better chances of becoming

successful men and women. Korea has had its own particular

social mood since the Joseon Dynasty through

concepts such as the 과거시험. People could achieve

their dreams through the exam only. If a man had passed

the exam, he could have had a great position as a high

public officer and he could have had power and money

at once. All people wanted elevate their status by passing

the exam, so they had to study very hard and needed to

get a good education. This led to the overall remarkable

enthusiasm toward education. Nobody can say this is too

much, because this desire to be successful is natural.

Some people say Koreans’ enthusiasm toward education

is a good motivation for Korean development, but

others are worried about its excess. Some parents cannot

even be satisfied with the state-provided education

for their children, so they are looking for some special

places for private lessons. This takes a lot of money, but

they are willing to pay for the lessons because they are

sure a better education can give their children a more

successful life.

This has been the common Korean attitude toward education

so far, but it has changed a little by little. The

change should take place with any reason, but especially

for personal happiness. We should remember, “So many

men, so many minds.” We recognize the differences of

people and respect the differences. Some people can be

happy by singing songs and some with playing soccer.

It’s good time to try to change some methods of education.

We had better provide a wider range of possibilities

for our children and give them some chances to choose

their own special ways. Of course we should provide

enough information about their choices to the children

and talk a lot with them. We especially need to develop

the right attitude toward college studies. Now, more than

80% of Korean students are trying to enter universities,

even some who are not interested in studying, but just

want to graduate. This is not good for this society or the

students themselves. Happiness cannot be attainedt from

studying only. Try to adapt your personal attitude and let

the children find their own happiness.

From City Life to

Small-town Korea



“What strange phenomena we find in a great city,

all we need to do is stroll about with our eyes open.

Life swarms with innocent monsters.” – Charles


spent the beginnings of my expat life in Busan, where

I the scenery was more familiar to me. I enjoyed the

smells of the sea, being able to sit on the beach all afternoon,

just watching life pass me by. It was a great way to

experience Korea for the first year. It got me acclimated to

all that is Korea. I survived the culture shock and lack of

personal space. There were plenty of places to see, museums

to visit, people to meet, and amazing foods to fill my

stomach. It was a great year, but after reassessing what

I wanted to accomplish while in Korea, I decided it was

time to move to a small city. So a new adventure began.

After spending a few weeks in the Philippines, it was

time to head to the mysterious new town I had chosen to

live in. I had never been before, and all my Korean friends

in Busan warned me that I was moving to the “country.”

Since I have always lived in a big city, I was a bit apprehensive,

but I was also looking for calm, peace, and

tranquility. These are the images I think of when I think

“country,” so I was excited for this new chapter to begin.

As the bus from Busan drove into the new town on the

interstate, I could see the welcome sign that read “Jeonju.”

It started to really hit home that I was starting life

over again, but this time is a very unfamiliar place. As

we drove further into town, my fears started to disappear

and I realized it wasn’t the “country” after all. In fact, it

looked like every other smaller town in Korea, with all

the apartment buildings, restaurants, cafes, parks, etc. My

nervousness was starting to disappear, and I became more

comfortable with the idea of moving from a city of 4 million

to a city of 600,000.

As we drove into the bus station, I was surprised at how

small and old it was, but I was looking forward to all the

possibilities. After I got all my bags and my dog off the

bus, I called my only contact in town, David. He came to

pick me up and drove me to my new apartment. He made

my first day in Jeonju completely comfortable as he gave

me a short 101 on Jeonju life and a tour of my area, even

driving me to my new workplace so I could walk there

with more confidence when I had to on Monday. All my

boxes that I had sent him earlier from Busan were already

in my new apartment, which was small, but clean. David

even introduced me to my first wine bar in town. This is

when I REALLY knew I would be able to survive.

All my fears of the unknown disappeared, and I knew I

would be fine. That was five years ago. I’m still living in

Jeonju. It’s a great small town. It is easy to get around, has

plenty of bars, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and even foreign

food. I’ve learned to really appreciate convenience

store drinking, taking late night walks through parks and

along rivers, and running into so many familiar faces as

you do walkabouts around town.

There is something about Jeonju that drowns out every

delicious taco and falafel a big city has to offer. There

is something about the sense of community one has in

terms of friendships versus the smorgasbord of acquaintances

a big city affords. Besides foreigners though, living

in Jeonju has led to friendships I could never have

guessed: the baker, who bombards me with hellos and

free pastries whenever I pass his bakery; the café owner,

who always provides freshly brewed free refills and

kindness; the banchan store owner, who knows exactly

what I want every time I go in. There are mountains and

rivers close by that help you escape the concrete buildings

and breathe in some fresher air. Jeonju is the town famous

in Korea for its gastronomy. The name Jeonju literally

means “Perfect Area.”

Don’t get me wrong, I do miss the beaches of Busan

and its fine, upscale restaurants, exciting nightlife, and

the myriad of cultural activities, but I’ve learned to slow

down and appreciate the important experiences of life,

living in a small town.

“A small town is a place where there’s no place

to go where you shouldn’t” –Burt Bacharach


Jeonbuk Life 51


“A Gogi Lovin’ Vegetarian”

by Amiya Moretta

For awhile I struggled,

I mean, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In this gogi lovin’ land

First word: Gogi.

“Ode to Jeonju”

by Swarnalee Dutta

O magpie! O magpie!

As you fly up in the sky,

Will you take me along with you

To see the wonderful city below?

This city, my friend, you should know

Is growing fast but aging slow.

Concrete buildings crowding in,

Yet old-world charm is safe within.

O magpie! O magpie!

There by the river, just nearby

Do you see the Hanok maeul?

Therein dwells the city’s soul.

Tradition intact amidst modern flow

Like the child within us, who refuses to grow.

Lined by trees of gingko and maple,

Ondol warming houses are strong and stable.

O magpie! O magpie!

It is hard to say ‘Goodbye!’

Sarangchae-Anchae and the courtyard,

The charismatic Hanok will hold your heart.

Hanbok, Hanji and Pansori music

Bibimbap, kimchi and cultural relic

The taste of Jeonju once you get

I bet, you will never forget.


Hanok –Korean traditional house

Maeul - Village

Ondol – Korean traditional floor-based heating

Sarangchae – Male quarters of Hanok house

Anchae – Female quarters of Hanok

Hanbok – Traditional Korean dress

Hanji – Korean paper

Pansori – Korean vocal music art form


by Betsey Norman

I am home. I am home.

Feet to the pavement. Head to the ground.

This tree is home. This stone is home.

This park where the students cook samgeupsal

though it’s not allowed

That, too, is home.

This door is home. These keys are home.

This room with the crazed cat, is home.

These shoes are home. These feet are home.

Somehow along the way, I have come home.

It seemed that I couldn’t

Get the meat out of the meal,

In the same way, you can’t get

The kimchi out of the kiss.

It just is.

“Gogi neh,”

I would say…

And then sit and wonder,

How a plate of pig flesh found

Its way to my table…

“Gogi neh,” louder and clearer,

I would pray. Crossing my fingers,

Until the meal was delivered.

Bigger and bolder the meat

Was displayed, a shining

Smile as it came my way.

Sighs of defeat.

Appetite sinking.

I nodded, confused.

Sure, I was doomed…

Until one day, I learned

Something that forever

Changed my Korean life:

“Neh” means “Yes”

“Anio” means “No”


Second word: Neh

Third word: Anio

Fourth word:


Needless to say,

I’m a happier vegetarian these days.

illustration by

Bonnie Cunningham


Jeonbuk Life 53

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