JB Life January 2017

JeonbukLife

Volume 5 (January 2017) of JB Life, a publication of the Jeollabuk-do Center for International Affairs. Enjoy!

Jeollabuk-do’s International Magazine

January 2017, Issue #5

Registration No. ISSN: 2508-1284

JB LIFE is published by the JBCIA

(Jeonbuk Center for International Affairs)

전라북도 국제교류센터

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

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

Jeonbuk Life Editorial Staff:

ANJEE DISANTO, U.S.A.,

M.A. Communication & Rhetoric

JB LIFE LAYOUT & DESIGN

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.

DOWON KIM, Korea,

BA Biological Science

JB LIFE JBCIA LIAISON

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.

YOUNG-WOO PARK, Korea,

Ph.D. TESOL

JB LIFE KOREAN CONSULTANT

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.

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INTERNATIONAL BEAT

- International Center News

HISTORY

- Who Moved These Rocks?

SPORTS

- Amazing Iksan Fencing

TOUR

- The Gochang Dolmens

DAVID VAN MINNEN, Canada,

B.A. Humanities/Classical Languages

JB LIFE CHIEF PROOFREADER

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.

Jeonbuk Life Writers & Artists:

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.

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!

FELIPE GOMES, originally from Sao Paulo, divides

his time between freelancing and figuring out how

to make 6 years of digital marketing and game

writing experience link to fun new projects. He has

been having a grand time visiting Jeonju, his Korean

home.

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?

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.

SARAH HODGKISS, one of our new illustrators, is a

24-year-old British artist who is currently working

as a Kindergarten teacher in Jeonju. If you want to

see more of her work, visit www.facebook.com/

artsydoodling.

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.

STUART SCOTT, a Jeonju resident since 2003,

teaches at JJU. One of his favorite hobbies is studying

history, folklore, and myths. Stuart grew up in

Canada, where he graduated with a degree in history

and political science.

Jeollabuk-do Global Living

January 2017 / Issue #5

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. As

of 2017, this magazine is bimonthly, publishing in January,

March, May, July, September, and November.

To get involved, email jeonbuklife@gmail.com

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LOCAL FOOD

- Fantastic [Winter] Foods & Where to Find Them

GLOBAL FOOD

- Finding Jeonju’s “Mexican Soul”

ARTS

- The Art of Building a Hanok

- Foreign Artists Showcase: Human Nature

GLOBAL JEONBUK

- Eurasia: Jeonju’s Multitalented Dance Troupe

- Bringing Brazil to Korea: The Lefundes Family

WORLDVIEW

- Buddhism in Jeonbuk

SOCIAL SCOPE

- Helping to Help Others: The JWAU

“BEING” IN JEONBUK

- Celebration: Keeping Indian Traditions Alive Abroad

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FICTION

- Cassa Daly & the Only Adventure She Ever Really

Had (or Wanted)

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.

VIKKI CHAN is British-born Chinese. She has been

living in Jeonju since 2013. Vikki loves to find out

more about different cultures residing in Korea.

This month’s COVER DESIGN is by artist

Bonnie Cunningham. Find more of her work within

JB Life or on her instagram via the username

@soybonnie.

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GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION

- “The Future is Dark”

JEOLLA DIALECT

Jeonbuk Life 3


INTERNATIONAL BEAT

Looking to Locals with the

Here’s a look at what the JBCIA (Jeollabuk-do Center

for International Affairs) did in the last quarter of

2016 and what they are planning for the start of the

new year. For further information, always keep an eye on their

website at jbcia.or.kr.

Korea-China Calligraphy Exchange

Korea held a calligraphy exchange at the Jeonju Citizens

Gallery this past Fall for one week. The Calligraphy gallery

was for the two countries to share their homogeneous cultural

areas in order to understand each other and enhance

friendship. It was organized by the JBCIA and supervised

by the Korea and China Culture Organization in Jeonbuk.

The gallery was open to everybody, so participants could

see and have fun comparing the artwork of each country. In

total, Korea contributed 100 pieces and China 50 pieces. A

similar gallery event will be held in China next year with

hopes of seeing diverse art work.

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“J.I.S.U. Sports Day

As a Fall activity, J.I.S.U. (Jeollabuk-do International

Supporters’ Unity) sponsored a sports day to foster camaraderie

between the supporter groups. Through sports,

body gesture games, association games, pair-based games,

zombie simulations, etc., the members from the different

groups had a chance to communicate and strengthen group

solidarity.

The 2nd Foreign Students P.R Team

Completion Ceremony & 1st and 2nd

Combined Workshop

The JBCIA’s 2nd Foreign Students Public Relations

Team, formed from September to November to promote

the province through photos and video, recently closed out

their business for the year and held an awards ceremony.

There were six photo teams and three video teams that

could find more vivid elements of the province through

their work. Even though their activity has finished, you can

watch their works over on Facebook (www.facebook.com/

jbcia20151001). To celebrate the successful duration and

participation from all of the 1st and the 2nd Foreign Students

P.R Teams, they went on a combined workshop trip.

The JBCIA gave a chance for them to go to Muju, which

is often too far to visit individually, and they experienced

taekwondo and saw the superb natural landscape of Jeollabuk-do.

The 3rd Foreign Students Public Relations Team

will be recruited starting in January, and we look forward

LEFT: Closing Ceremony of the 2nd Foreign Students Public Relations

Team. RIGHT: Korea-China Calligraphy Exchange.

A successful

day of sports.

to seeing more talented and passionate foreign students

in Jeonbuk.

Global Talk!Talk!Talk!: 2 Ambassadors

and the Stories of 2 Regions

On December 15th, the JBCIA invited two former ambassadors

who are well versed in their particular regions to

speak for the Global Talk!Talk!Talk! program. Ambassadors

Sin Sung Cheol and Jeon Dae Wan both stayed more than 10

years in their respective regions (Latin America and Eurasia),

so they were right for the students and general residents in

terms of sharing various information about cultural, historical,

political, and trending issues. Even though the lecture

lasted more than three hours, lots of students were still curious

about the countries or stories of the ambassadors when

they were conducting diplomacy. Reflecting the opinions

from the attendees, the JBCIA will hold more beneficial and

varied lectures for more people, so be sure to track their website

at jbcia.or.kr for future posters and advertisements.

Completion Ceremony and

Volunteer Activity

The first group of volunteers for the Jeollabuk-do International

Supporters Unity program had a completion

ceremony in December after a long journey of about 7

months. The representatives from each group reported

Participants at the

Outreach Counseling event.

what they had done and how they felt about having been

JISU representatives. The chief of the center distributed a

certificate to each person, making it a meaningful experience

for all. After the ceremony, all the members went to

the Paul Center Gym to do volunteer work for the local

elderly in need. They gave free haircuts and massages and

shared food. The second group of JISU representatives

are being recruited, so we hope to see more passionate

local residents doing diverse and interesting activities in

2017.

Outreach Counseling Service

To provide consultation for foreigners who are too busy

to visit the center, the JBCIA’s counseling service team

visited densely populated foreigner areas in November

and December. There were professional counsellors of

labor, immigration, psychology, and human rights with a

lawyer and labor attorney present, not only counseling but

also giving tips and useful information to live in Jeonbuk.

Volunteers also gave free Chinese medicinal service and

set up some sports (volleyball and basketball) to play with

about 200 foreign residents. Since most people welcomed

the outreach counseling service, the JBCIA is planning

to provide the service to more diverse locations and

more frequently. To suggest your city as the next place,

make a proposal to the person in charge, No Lebeon

(063.214.5604/nlb1234@jbcia.or.kr).

Jeonbuk Life 5


HISTORY

By STUART SCOTT

JB Life Contributing Writer

Man’s history on this planet has many different

stories about its beginning and

its development. Some cultures interacted

and the collision of cultures was unavoidable.

Food, clothing, music, government, and holidays

have spread by contact with other cultures. Some

traditions, however, seem to have been created independently

by many different cultures. The great

pyramids of Egypt and Mexico are separated by a

vast ocean and many centuries. There is no evidence

to support any contact between the two cultures, yet

the many similarities in their construction and purpose

would strongly suggest that there was contact.

However, to this day, that is only speculation. Alcohol

is another example of something that appears in

many cultures. A consistent theme around the world

is that when man gave up his nomadic ways, alcohol

in the form of wine, whiskey, or other spirits soon

started to appear. There is no evidence of this process

being culturally transferred to distant places. It

is believed that the process used to ferment Korean

drinks is over 5000 years old. It is unlikely travel

between Greece (site of the first European alcohol)

and Korea happened at that time.

One other practice that appears to have happened

independently instead of by cultural interference is

the building of dolmens. A dolmen is usually considered

to be a collection of upright stones with a

larger one laid across as a ceiling or roof. The oldest

ones are in Europe and would be around 7000

years old. Of course, the older ones have suffered

the most weathering over the years. We cannot be

sure who built these first Dolmens, so it impossible

to prove why they built them. It is generally

conceded that they were some sort of a burial

chamber, but this is only speculation. Burial items

found nearby may or may not have been placed at

the time of building. It is possible that they were

changed to burial plots sometime after their construction.

We don’t know. Russian dolmens, for

example, are believed to be vaults for storing their

gold and other precious metals. The people in this

area were miners and eventually the local population

was conquered and enslaved to steal their

treasures.

The size of these dolmens has led to many stories

about their creation. One of the largest ones

is in Spain and is 25 meters long and weighs over

180 metric tons. It is seriously doubted by some

that the engineering technology required to build

such a structure was available at the time. Perhaps

we had visitors from another planet to help build

them. Perhaps some Godlike creature built them.

Again, even though there were many human skeletons

found inside, there is no evidence to prove

that they were placed there at the time of construction

or that it was built earlier with this purpose in

mind.

Another large dolmen is in Ireland. If the construction

date of 4000 to 3000 BC is accurate, then

it would have been built by the earliest farmers to

move to Ireland. How could these early settlers

have moved the 100 metric tons that these stones

represent?

Of course, finally we will look at the dolmens in

Korea. If one includes North Korea, the peninsula

has the largest number of dolmens in the world (an

estimated 35,000). “Dolmen” in Korean is “goindol”

(고안돌). This means “supported stone.” Remarkably,

the building of these structures is mostly

limited to the Korean peninsula in East Asia.

Some are in China and a few much larger ones

also exist off the peninsula. As Korea, too, was

becoming an agricultural society at this time, it

is hard to imagine the people having the time or

ability to build them.

One of the three main locations of Korean dolmen

is right here in North Jeolla province. This

group of dolmen is the largest in Korea. They are

mostly in the village of Maesan, near Gochang.

Sixteen-hundred plus dolmens have been located

here, with over 400 of them designated as World

Heritage sites. The ones in Gochang county are the

largest and most diversified in Korea. Unlike dolmens

around the world, there is evidence to show

the dolmens in Korea were indeed grave sites of

the important or rich citizens. Some in South Jeolla

province actually show the year they were built

and the identity of those buried within.

Also, almost all Korean dolmen are covered.

This would be consistent with the theory of a

burial chamber. The absence of a roof on many

dolmen outside of Korea raises certain questions

about their use.

Burial chambers, early art, protection from wild

animals, or built by visitors from other planets are

possible explanations given for their construction.

You can decide which you feel is correct. Whichever

explanation you choose, a trip to Maesen to

see these ancient rocks is a must, before you leave

Korea.

For more information on the Gochang

Dolmens, check out the TOUR section on

Page 12!

LEFT: A line of dolmens in Gochang.

[Photo by Renee McMillan]

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Jeonbuk Life 7


SPORTS

By Anjee DiSanto

During and after the Rio Olympics, a video

circulated of Park Sang-young, a 20-yearold

Korean fencer who competed in the

Games. With 10 points to his opponent’s 14 in the

final match, Park could be seen visibly mouthing a

string of words (in Korean) again and again. “I can

do it. I can do it.” This scene in and of itself was

touching, but was made even more so by the fact that

Park could and did do it. Shortly after this self-pep

talk he came from behind in a burst. The end result?

A win, 15-14, and Korea’s first ever gold medal in

men’s individual épée.

While this was Korea’s first gold in that particular

event, the country is no stranger to Olympic or

international fencing wins. And yet… this is hardly

the sport that outsiders would naturally associate

with Korea if asked. In the minds of many, the sport

tends to be stereotypically linked to svelt Europeans

with long legs or arms. France. Italy. Hungary. Indeed,

these countries boast the most overall medals

throughout time in Olympic fencing and primarily

dominated the sport in the competitions of old. Over

time, though, the field of victors has spread.

At the Amazing Iksan Fencing Club, instructor

Lee Yeol admits between bouts that fencing wasn’t

always so popular amongst Koreans. In the past, he

says, people were mostly only recruited to competitive

fencing clubs in middle and high school, on the

condition that they had long legs or arms and had

already shown to be good at sports. This is no

longer the case. For one thing, as an analysis by

the Australian group Sydney Sabre noted, Koreans

do not generally excel at fencing through long

limbs. Rather, they thrive on their natural speed

and skilled footwork with elegant lunges. Coaches

further emphasize this through vigorous leg exercises

and techniques.

And then there’s the fact that this is no longer

just a competitive sport in Korea. Sponsors of the

Korean Fencing Federation have promoted the activity

as a way to get healthy in recent years, so

nowadays, it’s no surprise to find fencing practices

full of all ages, genders, and shapes.

Such is the case at Amazing Iksan Fencing. Here

we see clusters of young students (primarily female)

and a spattering of differently aged adults,

including Tamryn Zeeman, a South African public

school teacher who has lived in Iksan for four years.

Zeeman joined in April of 2015 on somewhat of a

whim and ended up sticking with it. Though she

admits that she and most others there have joined

the sport far too late to be professionally competitive,

she and others have still had the chance to

develop a love for the sport and its benefits and a

competitive spirit under their coaches, Kim Heewon,

Lee Yeol, and main coach Ju Dal-nim.

“Taking up fencing has benefited me mainly in

health, keeping my mind sharp, and becoming

more involved in the Korean community,” Zeeman

says. “It has also made me aware of the high

level that sports are carried out at in Korea,”

The section of the club in which Zeeman participates

does do some competitions around the peninsula,

but these are not in the same league as those

of Olympians and high-level competitors, some of

whom have trained and do train locally (mostly via

Iksan City Hall). For the hobbyists, they take the

training more mildly, though their progress is nodoubt

serious. Practices take place several times

per week, and while somewhat short and businesslike,

are still in good fun, with handshakes, chats,

and laughs. Zeeman notes that these practices do

get much longer and more intense prior to competitions,

though.

In terms of high-level competitions, the coaches

here explain that the types of fencing vary by

gender. Fencing typically splits into three areas:

foil, which uses the lightest weapon and has the

strictest rules; épée, which uses a sturdier blade

and moves the “slowest”; and sabre, the most offensive

and fastest (with blades sometimes moving

as fast as bullets!). In Korea, they explain, women

tend toward sabre on a competitive level, while

men prefer épée.

The coaches teaching here for the hobbyists and

lower-level competitors focus on épée. This, they

explain, may be a bit more approachable to the beginner.

Around 16 people train in this particular

club, while 30 train in the gym overall (including

the elite competitors). In this group, the ratio is

also 90 percent women.

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LEFT: Fencers Go Kyeong-hyeon and Tamryn

Zeeman. [All photos by ANJEE DISANTO]

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FEATURE STORY

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The Fencing Experience

In the Iksan gym, a night of fencing goes from zero

to full-on at a surprising rate of speed. Fencers arrive

with bulky bags of gear and assemble themselves rapidly,

from undergarment upon undergarment to chest

guard to glove to mask. The gym itself is lined with

garments, weapons, and masks of various kinds, but

most competitors here own their own. Many even

cheer themselves on by embellishing or decorating

their gear. One such competitor, Go Kyeong-hyeon,

has a dragon-like stencil emblazoned on the front of

his mask, making for a more daunting show of force,

as well as the phrase “All is Well” written in marker

atop one ear.

The equipment, Zeeman explains, can be an obstacle

to casual hobbyists. All told, her gear cost around

1.2 million won. Shoes alone might cost 400,000...

used. With this investment, though, you have a collection

of equipment that can endure for nearly as

long as you want to pursue the sport, and the monthly

fees are comparatively rather low.

“If you are on the fence, I would suggest that you go

down to your nearest club and join for a month before

committing to buying the equipment,” Zeeman recommends.

“The club should be able to loan you some

gear. When I started, practices involved learning

footwork, reconditioning your muscles, flexibility,

and fitness. If you are prepared to stick this out, then

you’re probably ready for the expensive commitment.

Thereafter, you can start by investing in the bare basics,

such as your shoes, glove, sword and mask.”

Once everyone is suited up, the practice progresses

at sabre-like speed. Some students, like Zeeman,

get a bit of one-on-one instruction before facing off,

while others plug straight in to the electric cords and

start sparring away with opponents. Cat-like lunges

are exchanged back and forth in front of score and

time boards adorned with the colorful Iksan logo.

The speed is intimidating, as are the occasional characteristic

fencing yells. But in the end, the helmets

come off, the hands shake, and everyone is all smiles

before doing it again.

Even clips of fencing competitions are impressive

to watch, but in person, it becomes clear what a sheer

workout this sport is. It’s unbelievably fast and repetitive

and stretches the body in ways that fall somewhere

between elegant and cruel. Zeeman, who was

already athletic and previously competed on rowing

crews, says she still found the sport challenging. She

also experienced noticeable weight loss and muscle

development over the course of her training, an effect

her coach was proud to affirm.

“Fencing is by far the most challenging sport I have

ever attempted, and I have done various sports my entire

life!” Zeeman explains. “It challenges the way your

body moves and the way you think. It’s quite a mental

workout! The biggest challenge I would have to say is

becoming more flexible and retraining my muscles and

mind to reformat old muscle memories from previous

sports, which required much bigger motions. Fencing

is all about keeping your body still, moving gracefully

and swiftly, yet attacking like a bee.”

All in all, for anyone willing to undertake the expenses

and consistent practice of such a demanding (yet rewarding)

sport, Zeeman and her coaches welcome them

to join in – whether Korean or foreigner, and whether

or not they’ve mastered the Korean language.

“Speaking Korean would benefit you far more during

practices but it’s not a major hindrance,” Zeeman,

who isn’t fluent, explains. “I have been very lucky

with the amazing coaches and fencing team at my club

who were open to accepting the challenge of teaching

me even though I could not speak Korean and they

could not speak English. The exercises and drills are

demonstrated to me to follow, and the names of fencing

moves are actually universal and in French.

“Fencing is a tight knit sport, and I have become

friends with everyone at my club. Even at fencing

competitions I have been welcomed by my competitors.

It really is a beautiful sport that you can continually

improve on throughout your life.“

For the time being, the Iksan club practices on the

bottom level of a stadium far outside the city center.

Soon, though, they will relocate to the much more accessible

Yeongdeung-dong, under the instruction of

Kim Hee-won, where they hope others will join in on

the competitive fun.

For more information and to track the progress of the

group, find them on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/iksanfencing

Jeonbuk Life 11


JEONBUK TOUR

By RENEE MCMILLAN

Jeonbuk Life Contributing Writer

The idea of strolling through a misty field

covered in giant stone monuments calls

to mind images of Stonehenge, druids,

possible ritual sacrifice, and portals into another

time. Perhaps that’s just me, and I may be guilty

of having read The Mists of Avalon and Outlander

far too many times. While Stonehenge may

be the most iconic symbol of stone monuments

in the world, an equally important site lies approximately

an hour and twenty minutes south

of Jeonju in the small, tranquil city of Gochang.

A day trip to Gochang offers several unique and

beautiful sites, including Gochang Fortress and

Seonunsa Temple. However, one of the most important

and often overlooked sites that Gochang

has to offer is the Gochang Dolmen Sites at Maesan

Village.

Dolmens are large stone constructions or megaliths,

and are generally considered to be grave

markers, although much mystery surrounds

them. While dolmen sites are found throughout

the world, Korea has the highest concentration

of dolmens, with an estimated 35,000. The staggering

number of dolmens found on the Korean

Peninsula accounts for 40% of the world’s

megaliths. Gochang has the most concentrated

number of megaliths found in Korea, with

an estimated sixteen hundred stone monuments

found to this day.

The significance of the dolmen sites of Gochang

to anthropological and archeological

research ensured its recognition and protection

from UNESCO. In 2000, together with

the Hwasan and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites of

Jeollanamdo and Gyeonggi Province, UNE-

SCO listed The Gochang Dolmen Site as a

World Heritage Site. With 447 dolmens officially

registered by UNESCO, Maesan Village

in Gochang is one of the largest and most

important megalithic sites on Earth. According

to UNESCO, “All of the constructions are

original, making the Gochang sites one of the

biggest centers of prehistoric megaliths.” The

dolmens serve as proof that the area has been

inhabited since the Bronze Age.

Research into the dolmen sites of Korea is

relatively new. Excavation of the Gochang

megaliths was carried out as a result of the

construction of the West Coast Highway in

the early 1990’s. Although a large number

of dolmens have been identified, only a few

have been excavated. Typically, dolmens are

single isolated monuments, however the clusters

of dolmens found in Gochang suggest the

individuals interred may have been family

burials for tribal leaders or the same dynasty

of rulers. Excavation of the dolmens has

produced bronze implements, which further

supports this theory.

The Korean word for dolmen is “goindol,”

which translates to “supported stone,” or

“propped stone.” There are four types of dolmen

found throughout Korea. The first type

of goindol is the Table Type, where one

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LEFT: A misty spread of dolmens in Gochang. RIGHT [from top]: A simulated scene inside the Gochang

Dolmen Museum; a scene By ANJEE constructed DISANTO, outside in the historical Jeonbuk dolmen Life village; Co-Editor a small dolmen at

the Gochang site. [Photos by RENEE [Shots MCMILLAN] courtesy of Gimje Public Relations]

Jeonbuk Life 13

Jeonbuk Life 13

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JEONBUK TOUR

LEFT:

Scenic view of a table-type

dolmen in the

Gochang Dolmen Park

last Fall.

RIGHT:

Simulated structure of

old at the historical

village in Gochang

Dolmen Park.

[Photos by

RENEE MCMILLAN]

digenous to the Korean Peninsula. Another widely

held academic theory is that there were migrations

of populations from Europe or North America

to the Korean Peninsula, and these migrations

brought the tradition of erecting stone monuments

with them.

A trip to Maesan Village offers several unique

experiences. The first stop is the Gochang Dolmen

Museum, which houses three floors of exhibitions

and galleries. The museum provides a great deal

of information on dolmens found in Gochang and

throughout the world, as well as many life-sized

representations and depictions of daily life during

the Neolithic Era. The third floor of the museum

includes an interactive area for children. Outside

the museum is a Bronze Age theme park, which

includes a life-sized prehistoric village replica.

Admission to the Gochang Dolmen Museum is

3,000 won for adults, and 1,000 for children. The

museum is open from 9:00am to 6:00pm, March

through October, and from 9:00am to 5:00pm November

through February. Final admission is one

hour before closing. Please note that the museum

is closed on Mondays.

The main attraction of the Maesan Village is the

dolmens. The site is spread across a series of hills,

and includes several different areas for viewing.

This area may be explored as thoroughly or leisurely

as one wishes. There are multiple paths and

guide markers allowing visitors to choose how

extensive their exploration becomes. Viewing the

largest dolmen in Maesan requires a two to three

hour hike. The Gochang Dolmen Site includes the

largest cluster of dolmens found in Korea, diverse

types of dolmens, and a quarry which demonstrates

the construction process of dolmens. Visiting

the site is a perfect way to spend the day

for hiking enthusiasts, nature lovers, and history

buffs.

A visit to the Gochang Dolmen Site at Maesan

Village makes for a perfect day trip from Jeonju.

The area offers a rare glimpse into the daily

lives and burial rites of an earlier civilization set

against an incredibly beautiful landscape. Although

no druids or evidence of ritual sacrifice

are on display, one cannot help but feel they may

have indeed found a portal into another time.

For further information on the Gochang Dolmen

Site and the Gochang Dolmen Museum, please

visit their site:

www.gochang.go.kr/gcdolmen

large stone rests horizontally on two or more

upright stones. Second, the Above-ground

Stone-lined Burial Chamber Type, a variation

of the Table Type, consists of an above-ground

burial chamber which was constructed using

several slabs of stone. As they are mostly

found in the Gochang area, they are often

referred to as “Gochang dolmens.” A third

style is the Capstone, which consists of an

underground burial chamber that was directly

covered by a large capstone. The final type is

the Go-board. This style of dolmen consists

of an underground burial chamber which was

flanked by supporting stones and covered with

a capstone. The Go-board dolmens of Gochang

are characterized by their very tall supporting

stones, and often do not have burial chambers.

The varying styles of dolmens demonstrate the

progression of burial rites over time. All four

types of megaliths are found in Gochang, and

may be viewed at the Maesan Village.

While the earliest known dolmens were set

in place nearly 7,000 years ago in Western Europe,

the dolmens of Korea have been examined

and dated to between 1000 and 700 B.C.

Because the Korean megaliths are far younger

than those found in other parts of the world,

much mystery is centered around the high

amount of dolmens found in Korea. The Gochang

Dolmen Museum at Maesan lists three

possible hypotheses regarding the origins of

dolmens on the Korean Peninsula: 1) that they

came from northern Asia, 2) that they came

from southern Asia, and 3) that they were in-

14

Jeonbuk Life 15


LOCAL FOOD

By ANJEE DISANTO

Jeonbuk Life Co-Editor

Winter has come, as they warned us it

would, but with it comes a new range of

foods that flourish in this chilly seasonal

environment. While the foods mentioned here are not

all exclusive to Jeollabuk-do, many do have a satisfying

North Jeolla flare. We’d like to share a few of the

best treats to try this winter, especially for visitors or

those new to the area.

Red Bean Delights

Expats in Korea have long joked that red bean has a

way of turning up when we’re expecting chocolate. It

can be a bit disconcerting in some contexts, but in the

following dishes, one knows exactly what to expect.

Red bean stews and porridges come to the forefront in

winter. In particular, patjuk, red bean porridge, is popular

for traditional reasons – mainly, it is to be eaten on the

Winter Solstice to drive away bad spirits. Why? Likely

because an old Chinese-based legend featured an evil

spirit who could only be driven away with his most hated

food – patjuk. Eating thick, sweet bowls of soupy red

bean were the solution to safety and health for ones family

in the months and year to come.

Legends aside, the porridge is quite healthy, made with

mashed, boiled red beans, and gives something of a respite

from the typically spicy Korean stews. It also tends

to come with honey to sweeten or quail eggs added in,

and in Jeonju’s traditional markets, you might find not

just a sprinkling of these but an overwhelming helping!

(If you want an egg-heavy version, look specifically for

saealpatjuk... “saeal” is “quail egg.”)

Patjuk and saealpatjuk are available all around North

Jeolla province and beyond, but in this area, red bean

also adopts a different role. Many parts of Korea have

their own characteristic noodle or guksu dishes, and one

of Jeollabuk-do’s main claims is patkalguksu, “knife-

LEFT: A stack of hotteok, a characteristic syrup-filled

pancake. RIGHT: Typical bungeoppang,

or fish bread. FOLLOWING PAGES: [Left] a

bowl of patkalguksu, or knife-cut noodles in red

bean, from Jeonju’s Nambu Market. [Right]

Five-colored tteokguk, or rice cake soup.

[Photos by ANJEE DISANTO]

cut” noodles in a thick red-bean broth. Depending on

the shop, noodles may come as the plain wheat flour

variety, or may take a flavored spin (such as through

added notes of green tea). In any case, in comparison

to plain patjuk, patkalguksu tends to be less bland.

Restaurants add their own seasonings, and in this case,

rather than just honey or sugar, you can also have the

choice to add salt. This added range of seasoning may

be more appealing to foreigners on some level than

with the typical red bean porridge.

If you’re hunting patkalguksu around North Jeolla,

there are plenty of options. In Gunsan, Jangteo

Patkalguksu in Naun-dong or Yetnal Patjuk in Jukseong-dong

are two shops that fit the bill. Iksan has

Yetmat Patkalguksu in Shin-dong, and Jeonju has several

options clustered inside its famed Nambu Market.

A Hot Time for Hot Cakes

While available here and there year-round, hotteok, a

honey-filled Korean pancake, has a certain soul-warming

power that just amplifies in the winter. There’s

nothing like receiving a tiny paper cup of fresh-fried

pancake from the old woman or man at the stand on the

street. Nothing like eating it as you stand there, huddled

in the cold, fanning your mouth from the lava-hot

first bite of syrup that pours out. Many of the wintery

stands that sell this fare also have spongy, fish-flavored

skewers of odeng, and they may give you a cup of the

broth for free to wash down your sweet snack.

These pancakes often have added fillings and flavorings

like pine nuts, peanuts, and cinnamon, and

depending on the shop or the region, it might go even

further. Some street stands around Korea have hotteok

with savory fillings like vegetables or noodles, green

tea flavoring, you name it!

If you just want a standard hotteok, you can look to

the street stands practically anywhere in the markets or

downtown areas. For something more special, there

are a few stand-out options here in North Jeolla.

First, in Gunsan, a shop called Jungdong Hotteok

has been serving up the hotcakes since 1943. So famous

are these pancakes, in fact, that at the original

store you may have to take a number – literally. This

shop actually has a bank-like system of waiting in line

with numbered slips to manage backups of dozens of

customers. But why so special? Other than the history,

this hotteok has a crispier quality that makes it slightly

akin to some Indian breads – an interesting con-

16 Jeonbuk Life 17

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LOCAL FOOD

And last but not least, with the Lunar New Year (Seolnal)

approaching, you have to remember to make or

eat a bowl of tteokguk, or rice cake soup, to bring yourself

good fortune. This food is linked to the idea that

Koreans count age differently, with everyone turning a

year older together on Lunar New Year’s Day. It is said

that one must eat tteokguk to officially age, and you can

even ask someone’s age in a traditional way by asking,

“How many bowls of tteokguk have you eaten?”

As for the dish itself, the normal version is rather simple.

Long strips of plain rice cake called garaetteok are

cut into thin ovals and used as a sort of pasta inside of

a thin broth. Bowls get topped with thin strips of egg,

seaweed, seasame, green onions, and sometimes meat.

Of course, since we’re advising on the more “fantastic”

foods of winter, there’s a unique spin you could put

on this dish, particularly if you’re willing to make it at

home. Regular, single-colored tteokguk can be found in

restaurants everywhere, though it usually only reaches

menus in the wintertime. There is, however, a variation

that uses five-colored, five-flavored garaettok slices,

called osaektteokguk (literally, “five-color rice cake

soup”). In this case you’re met with a soft rainbow of

ovals in your soup. There’s of course white (plain rice

cake), but also pink (often using sweet potato), golden

yellow (using pumpkin), brown/black (perhaps using

black sesame), and green (using seaweed or mugwort).

The ingredients and intensity of flavor may vary, but

in any case, this version of tteokguk is even more auspicious

than usual as it easily contains all the colors of

obangsaek, the five colors representing different elements

in Korean culture. (Typically, traditional Korean

meals try to include foods or side dishes covering all

five of these colors.)

If you’re in Jeonbuk, it’s easy to procure a bag of

five-colored garaetteok slices from local sources, such

as Achimuiddang in Iksan. Check on jbplaza.com for a

simple ordering option. Keep in mind that some local

rice cake shops might even sell gifts sets of this colorful

DIY tteok, which could make a great Seolnal gift for

someone whom you wish good fortune.

Sometimes the winter is so cold that warm food is

the only way forward. We hope you eat some of these

sweet and savory treats to warm up and feel the flavor

or North Jeolla this winter.

trast against the smooth, sticky texture of the syrup inside.

Jeonju and Iksan also have the history of some similar

highly traditional spots in their market areas, but if

you’re seeking something less traditional you can visit a

branch of Jeontong Hotteok in the famed Jeonju Hanok

Village. Here you are likely to find modern variations

on the theme, with options like garlic hotteok, cream

cheese hotteok, and beyond. You’re also likely to find

lines, so be prepared!

Fishy Friends

While it’s not a Jeolla specialty, we would be remiss if

we didn’t advise you to try bungeoppang, or fish bread,

in the cold winter months. These pastries are shaped

like a common kind of fish (bungeo) and cooked with a

crafty sort of waffle iron on the street. Traditionally, the

filling for these little fishies would be red bean (to the

dismay of some), but nowadays it’s not uncommon to

find custard fillings or even chocolate! These can often

18

be found at the same stands as the odeng fish skewers

or sometimes hotteok, and they are too affordable not to

try. In fact, they’ll often come in threes or fives for only

1,000 won locally, giving your enough to share (or just

to keep your hands warm on a long winter walk home).

Jeonbuk has many places to enjoy bungeoppang, but

in this case we’ll just recommend to enjoy any version

of this treat in the company of Jeonbuk’s people, huddled

around a winter food stand in camaraderie. If you

are seeking something special, Jeonju’s Hanok Village

and Nambu Market have been known to have stands

selling bibimbap bungeoppang. It has neither the traditional

fillings nor carp-like shape in this incarnation, but

the outer pastry is the same waffle-like heaven and this

form is undeniably Jeonju.

Eating Your Age

Jeonbuk Life 19


GLOBAL FOOD

left the country for about 12 years, and when

I came back, people are all about killing

“I your tongue with hotness! It’s all about crazy

spice. Crazy tteokbokki, crazy buldakbokkumyeon.

It’s a trend. Then they expect that from Mexican food.

Mexican food isn’t about that - it’s about flavor.”

This is one of the many opinions offered up by Julie

Chu, a former student of Johnson and Wales in Miami,

who spent the last 10 years living and working in World

Class resorts such as Fisher Island and The Mandarin

Oriental in Florida and Washington. Cooking for the

likes of Michelle Obama, Robert DeNiro, and Steven

Spielberg, Julie clearly loved her stay in the U.S but

knew it was time to return to her hometown of Jeonju.

20

By DEAN CRAWFORD

Jeonbuk Life Contributing Writer

In doing so, she brought with her a desire to produce not

only great food, but a change in the perception of who

cooks it.

“If you are a man, you are a yosengnam (sexy man

that cooks food), but if you’re a woman who cooks, you

are a jubang imo [kitchen aunt]. I’m pretty educated, I

have a professional background, I take pride in knowing

a lot about cuisine, but what happens is people think

“Oh, she’s female, maybe she just works and cleans in

the kitchen.” No I’m sorry, I’m the chef, I’m the owner,

I create my own recipes, and I want to change your mind

that a woman can be a great chef as well.”

She backs up this statement by painstakingly focusing

on her food. Popular dishes such as the carnitas and

enchiladas are braised for hours while the sauce is reduced,

the meat shredded and the process started again

to create dishes that are full of flavor with a lovely after

taste. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Julie says she

wants her food to hit you like “a punch in your face!”

She wants her flavors bold, but also authentic.

“The Koreans might say, ‘Hey it’s not spicy enough. I

thought this was Mexican food? I want it flaming hot!’

I’m thinking to myself, “Mexican food is not as spicy

as you think, it’s all about the flavor.” Hotness is not a

flavour. It’s the cumin, the oregano, cilantro, chili powder

- it’s not just jalapeños. Hot is a feeling, so you have

to be really careful because it will cover all the delicate

flavors of your food. My carnitas taco probably has 20-

30 ingredients that the majority of people wouldn’t be

able to tell - but I will know!”

But Julie doesn’t stop there. She is a perfectionist who

focuses on every aspect of her food, not just the flavor

profiles. “I wouldn’t say it’s a science, but I also put a lot

of thought into my textures. So I will put pickled onions

in my pork carnitas, which not only gives color and flavor,

but adds texture. The carnitas are soft and fall apart,

so what happens is I put pickled onions in there, which

is different from pico de gallo because tomato can be

mushy as well. That’s why I put corn salsa in there also,

because it pops. Then, with pickled onions on top, it’s

crunchy. So I put a lot a lot of thought into the balance

of the flavor and texture.”

Briefing her designers to provide a “modern vintage”

feel, the restaurant is chic, yet the long bar is adorned

with traditional Mexican colors in the form of peppers

and bottles. I particularly liked that the bar looks onto

the kitchen, so I could watch the chefs at work whilst enjoying

a cocktail. And judging by her sumptuous food,

I have no doubt Tacocina will have the culinary impact

on the city that Julie desires. I urge you to give her place

a try. It’s not only Julie’s food that will make a big impression,

but also the venue itself, which she sees as an

extension of her own personality.

“What I’m trying to do is make good old Mexican

food that I used to eat all the time, but with good ingredients

with a lot of touches from a real chef. I want

people to think it’s a fun place to be. Come over and feel

at home. Come and hang out. Koreans and foreigners - I

just want people to mingle. Mi casa es su casa!”

Julie’s new home is open 7 days a week from 12pm

to 1am.

BOTTOM LEFT: Julie (right) and her staff perfect

flavors in the Tacocina kitchen. ABOVE: Tacocina’s

enchilada. BELOW: Tacos, an essential order.

[Photos by DEAN CRAWFORD]

Jeonbuk Life 21


ARTS

22

By Miriam Lee

You haven’t woken up, maybe not at all,

until the morning you wake up to a cold,

piney breeze that quenches your thirst

before you have even moved from the soft heat of

the floor. It’s Christmas morning without the stress,

camping without the dirt, a deep drunken sleep without

the hangover. Heaven. Along with the stationery

shops and the food, what I miss most in Korea

when I’m home are the brilliantly heated floors. You

can get a gentle linoleum hug from your one-room

or rented ondol floor any time, but don’t miss the

chance to sleep amongst the raw wood and feather

comforters of a traditional hanok.

For a weekend to retreat from the world, just far

enough away from Jeonju, lies Dube (doo-bey). Conceived

in antiquity but built very recently (it feels

like the sawdust is still in the air!), the complex of

hanoks is named Dube, which is the name of a constellation

of sisters. Waking up at Dube, Heaven, we

let the rainy morning last as long as possible, lifting

and clipping the puzzle-like wings of the room to

open our view to the plié of the entry gate, framing

the valley below. Humans and nature in harmony, I

was told, was the purpose of the design. It took a

while, but I finally realized my mistake in looking

for the shape of nature through my Western lens,

which we use to see cathedrals and temples climbing

to the sky like holy mountains. Hanoks paint the

mountain shape as well, but rather from peak to peak.

Dating back to the Iron Age, Korean hanoks have

been giving the peaceful rests between the endless

working hours that have stitched Korea into a world

power. The current form of hanoks started in the

fourteenth century, but the earlier forms go back ten

more centuries, to the time (from some perspectives)

of the Roman catacombs.

Hanoks are remarkable for their ability to work

with the flow of the weather, even in the sometimes

harshly cold and unspeakably hot and humid conditions

on the peninsula. The lifting of the floor leaves

space not only for the ondol heating (the same that I

have already raved about, but would be happy to carry

on for days if allowed) but also for the movement

of cool air during the summer months. The shape of

the hanok also serves to work with the weather to

keep the dry air of ideal temperature in. The paper

walls, which have always seemed miraculous to me

just for being able to exist at all, serve the function of

not only being easily repairable, but also serving as

such excellent filters that they are known to provide

health benefits from just one night of rest in their

care.

Architects the world over have long grappled with

how to bring the outside in and the inside out -- the

freshness of running water into a Roman dining court,

the curve of a concert hall’s wall, almost as perfect

acoustics as a dripping cave. Though it often feels as

though our modern shelter is just conceived through

the cheapest possible materials held together by new

layers of wallpaper, there is always something rather

profound about how a home is constructed. Building

a house is a labor of love, full of intentional meaning.

Putting a roof over your family. Carving out the

space for your babies to play and crawl and grow up.

I pull up a chair to the table of one of our favorite

spots in Jeonju -- Poco Poco, a pizza café with a

breezy balcony overlooking the Ajungli Reservoir.

All around, the hills are fat with trees. My friend

Byoung Kwon Lee goes to collect our drinks while I

awkwardly introduce myself to his co-worker,

Jeonbuk Life 23

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Lee Min Hyeok (we’re Lees all around the table, but

not related), who has come along for an interview

about their work, the construction of traditional Korean

hanoks.

We sip our tea on the balcony, watching and waiting

patiently for the specks of white in the trees

around the reservoir to spread their heron wings and

dive into the water. You can’t help but wonder if it

looks as beautiful and graceful from the perspective

of the fish, who are about to become a side dish.

But perhaps the fish have accepted the flow of nature

better than us.

Their work sounds grueling as much as fascinating.

I am enchanted by the description of removing

an ancient rooftop for repairs, but maybe less

so by the choking dust resulting from twenty tons

of mud that has been drying for five hundred years.

This is no exaggeration, it turns out. Forty thousand

pounds of mud is quite standard for the construction

of a hanok roof. I ask more about old materials, expecting,

I think, a similar strain of what I’ve heard

from home of carpenters digging carefully for old,

hand-fashioned colonial nails at destruction sites,

24

much higher in quality and durability than our modern,

machine-produced versions. It takes a while

and a few drawings and phone translations for me to

understand what they are trying to explain about ancient

Korean “nails,” though, which turn out to often

be tight collections of dried reeds. Massive beams

of hard wood that take five strong men to move into

place are held there, for hundreds of years, by tough

little twigs.

BK gestures to the hills sloping all around us and

reminds me that during the war the country was

stripped of trees. I had heard that the Arbor Day tradition

of replanting was waning, as there are about

as many trees as there is room for between the growing

skeletal, ever-taller apartment building invasion

of the landscape. What I hadn’t thought of was what

this means for the age of the overall Korean forest.

There are plenty of forty or fifty-year-old trees,

which is fairly young in tree years. So for hanoks,

stronger, old-growth wood is imported from North

America.

I ask BK if it seems sad to him that the trees aren’t

actually Korean trees. Somehow, I had the impres-

sion that, after a cold waterfall shower in the morning,

the hanok builders would turn around and hug

the nearest tree, patriotically. Not exactly. Traditionalism,

and even Korean pride, aren’t always exactly

what you would expect.

It seems a shame to me, at first, considering the

patriotism the trees might feel. But then I remember

my first flight across the States to the Pacific Northwest,

the ugly brown squares cut out of the beautiful

deep green mountains of old-growth forest. “Kimberly

Clark,” said the woman next to me in disgust.

“It all gets chopped down for toilet paper.” If the

majestic, kind, and furry Douglas firs must come

down, I am much more heartened to see them loved

into a beautiful, harmonious hanok far away than

to become local toilet paper. Globalization can be

bittersweet.

“Too-strict rules make us lose culture,” says BK,

poignantly. He tells me about the struggles of building

projects with hard and fast rules about the tools

that can be used. It does seem to make sense that

the original tools would need to be used to create

an authentic structure. He shows me a picture in his

phone of a terrifically old beam revealed in a recent

restoration project. In front is a fresh, light, probably

North American beam, glided into place next to

an older one that is still strong, but dark with age.

Instead of the pettable, smooth furriness of newly

cut wood, the old beam bears proudly the shine of

thousands of painstaking grooves that were left by

someone who must have spent days shaping it by

hand hundreds of years ago.

It’s hard to say if all Korean traditional builders

would feel the same. Patriotism is strong in Korea,

of course. BK has lived and worked in other

countries, embraced other cultures warmly. Perhaps

he can see from the perspective of the bird and the

fish, and perhaps knows exactly how they can build

their nest.

PHOTOS: [Previous and current pages]

Hanok projects by Byoungkyoung

Lee and his crew. [Photos courtesy of

BYOUNGKYOUNG LEE]

Jeonbuk Life 25


ARTS ESSAY

By VIKKI CHAN

JB Life Contributing Writer

26

Early this November, I had the opportunity to check

out a pretty cool coffee shop in Iksan called Misulgwan

Café, known to be the place where you can enjoy

coffee (or other beverages) as well as observe intriguing

pieces of art. Whilst I was there, Misulgwan Café was hosting

a multidisciplinary art exhibition focusing on “Human

Nature”.

The owner, Sang-Rin Park, is an art enthusiast as well as

a professional fashion designer. He loves to use his coffee

shop’s space voluntarily as a great canvas to promote events

and artwork. Currently, he has a strong interest in displaying

a mix of expat and Korean artists’ work, demonstrating

a “new culture” in the Korean art gallery industry. This perspective

seems rare.

The exhibit presented ten artists’ artwork. Seven artists

were expats, three of them Korean. As mentioned before,

this was a multidisciplinary exhibition: each artist had a very

different approach in terms of style and perspective towards

the theme, “Human Nature.”

The first things I saw once I entered were four clear plastic

boxes, and in each box there was a different set of red flowers.

For example, one box contained roses; another one contained

red poppies. I found out later that the title of this display is

called “Plant Abuse (I’m Flower Murder),” created by Yun

Jin, a Wonkwang University student majoring in Philosophy.

She expressed that all living things should be treated equally,

and keeping the flowers in boxes was degrading their value

as living objects. In addition to this, Yun Jin contributed two

paintings related to the relationships between people. After

viewing her work, I found that she liked to use bold colours

to express her concept.

Later on, I saw a painting consisting of different-colored

dots illustrating a number of dream-catchers on a black background.

The artist behind this was Mi-Yeon Jin, a graduate

from Wonkwang University. The artist aimed to make viewers

feel at ease when looking at the artwork. Similarly, Jin’s

“Leave Your Nightmare to Me” expressed that everyone

sleeps and dreams.

Another Korean artist, Tae-Gwan Lee, created five pieces

that I believe presented strong masculinity. He defined that

each piece expressed a different atmosphere of how humans

behave with their movements and gestures. He didn’t really

go into detail about each work; however, the interesting part

of his work was that we as viewers could make various interpretations

about them. Lee used different materials for each

piece, displaying his capability to use a variety of media.

Next there were the foreign artists, whom we see more

rarely.

First, Sarah Hodgkiss, a British street artist and illustrator,

created a series of four portraits. In Korea, she specializes in

drawing portraits, and in regards to the exhibit’s theme, Human

Nature, she chose to focus on the inner strength of women.

She believes that in Korean society there seems to be a set

g

ARTWORK: [ABOVE] Original Human Nature

logo designed by Jason Vlasak.

[TOP RIGHT] A multimedia piece by Sarah Vetter.

[BOTTOM RIGHT] Hanji craft works

by Natalie Thibault (left) and part of

an installation by Bonnie Cunningham (right).

[Photos by ANJEE DISANTO]

Jeonbuk Life 27

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ARTS

of standards women should follow to become the “perfect”

woman, such as domestic goddess, stay-at-home mom, and

so on. In this series, you can clearly see her style of art. Just

like in her non-exhibited works she draws her subjects with

rough lines, then paints colourful splodges and strokes to

highlight their features. She chose four female acquaintances

as her subjects to deliver her concept. The reason behind

this was the idea that each woman consistently faces challenges,

whether racial discrimination, being stereotyped,

or things they have to overcome to achieve their goals.

Nevertheless, to illustrate the strength these women have,

Hodgkiss drew predatory animals (each woman chose one)

aligned with their faces.

Next up, Sabrina Pinksen is a Canadian artist and writer.

She specialises in drawing vibrant portraits, and for this exhibit,

she drew eight portraits emphasizing the diversity of

humans. In other words, Pinksen wants to show that everyone

is culturally and physically different but can influence

each other. Hence, Pinksen linked each drawing with purple

tape to present the “influence” or connection. She drew

a few famous faces among them: for example, the lead singer

of the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl. The reason why she decided

to choose “diversity” as her concept is because, since

being in Korea, she has met so many people with different

ethnic or cultural backgrounds.

Tara Beck, the next exhibitor, is an American art enthusiast

and hobbyist. She has a keen interest in the art revolving

around fantasy and Korean animation known as “illust.”

Thus, in this exhibition, with the influence of “illust,” Beck

chose to demonstrate the five senses: sight, hearing, taste,

smell, and touch. She made two displays. The first one I

saw was an interactive display, where there were items representing

each sense. The jars stated “taste me” and “smell

me,” which reminded of Alice in Wonderland.

In her second display, she produced a series of four paintings

of animals. She chose these animals as they are known

to rely on a particular sense. It’s very interesting how she

played on these identities with words, color, and zentangle

patterns (structured black and white patterns). She used

these patterns to create the animals, as well as using watercolors

and colored pencils to highlight the objects in the

background.

Another foreign participant, Damien Sullivan, is an American

visual artist. He loves travelling with his motorcycle

to view Korea’s countryside, and because of his hobby, he

is able to capture great scenery which is later used as the

reference for his paintings. Damien mentioned to me once

that Korea’s weather suits his style of painting. Considering

that, the weather in Korea is quite humid, and Sullivan is

very competent in painting misty landscapes.

For this exhibit, he contributed six landscape paintings

that showed the natural beauty Korea has to offer. Each

painting was named after the place he took his reference

from. In my opinion, Sullivan’s paintings looked like photos

from afar; but when you looked closer you could see his

admirable brushwork. My favorite painting was the one of

Ungpo, because the clouds looked so pretty and it took me

back to those times when I was travelling.

Bonnie Cunningham, another exhibitor, is an American

painter and illustrator. Sometimes you can see her work in

JB Life in both article illustrations and her regular

art page titled “The Future is Dark.” Her style is

g

PHOTOS:

[ABOVE LEFT] A photorealistic drawing

by Sabrina Pinksen. [BOTTOM LEFT] A painting

by Tara Beck (left) and a piece titled “Beauty in

Strength“ by Sarah Hodgkiss. [RIGHT] A set of

hanji drawers by Natalie Thibault.

[Photos by ANJEE DISANTO]

Jeonbuk Life 29


ARTS

quite distinct and she uses a range of brushwork (painting

dots and a combination of different strokes).

In this exhibit, her concept was “getting lost in a world,”

which she portrayed incredibly as she was able to create

three miniature worlds for the viewers to see. She made

a unique display where her paintings were surrounded by

handmade vines of paper leaves and flowers. One of the

worlds that got me thinking was a series of six paintings,

which showed an evolution of a human becoming a fish. In

addition, she made a mask to hang on the right hand corner

of her display, a “creature of nature.”

Quite different from the others, Natalie Thibault is a hanji

artist. “Hanji” itself is a traditional handmade paper in Korea,

and Thibault uses it to make beautiful decorative objects.

This was her first time to display her work in an exhibition,

as she usually displays her goods in hanji festivals

or at arts and craft festivals. She makes practical items for

everyday use, such as jewelry and small furniture.

For the exhibit, Thibault created several objects that were

aesthetically related to “human nature.” She used earthly

coloured hanji paper and animal patterns to decorate her

pieces. One of the items that I liked the most was the yellow

table lamp, because when the lights were on, you could see

a beautiful phoenix.

Lastly, Sarah Vetter is a Canadian conceptual artist, with

work leaning toward the abstract. She enjoys drawing

trunoble-esque (think nuclear-warped) insects. For the exhibition,

she wanted to show “how humanity imposes itself

on nature and how society offers itself as a portrait of human

nature.”

Whilst I was looking at her work I realised that she used

Korean food takeout advertisement leaflets (the ones we get

on our doors) to create part of her artwork. It seemed to me

that she wanted to highlight how capitalism or our rubbish

was affecting nature, which I believe was a very intelligent

approach to “human nature.”

On the whole, it’s rare to find such a relaxing yet awesome

place where you can chat and admire such ingenious work.

While I was visiting the café I brought my friend with me

and we talked about life in general, but once in a while we

would glance at the art and comment how cool it was.

Although the exhibition is now over, there will be new

artwork to see and talk about at Misulgwan. When you visit,

you might also get a chance to play with the café’s mascot,

Munjee, the owner’s very sassy, beautiful grey cat.

In addition, if you are interested in looking at some of the

artists’ work, use the contact details below. As one should

understand, their artwork for the exhibit was just a little

piece of the talent they can offer.

Bonnie Cunningham

Instagram: soybonnie

Website: www.soybonnie.com

Sarah Vetter

Email: addverse@outlook.com

Website: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.

vetter.10

Sarah Hodgkiss

Website: www.facebook.com/artsydoodling

Damien Sullivan

Website: https://www.facebook.com/

damien.sullivan.104

Sabrina Pinksen

Instagram: @smpinksy

Natalie Thibault

Website: www.hanjiaty.com

Tara Beck

Email: tbbadger06@gmail.com

PHOTOS: [LEFT] A Painting by Damien

Sullivan. [RIGHT] One painting out of a

series by Bonnie Cunningham.

30

Jeonbuk Life 31


GLOBAL JEONBUK

Inside Jeonju’s

Multinational, Multicutural, Multicultural, Multitalented

Dance Troupe

By SILAYAN CASINO

JB Life Contributing Writer

Dancing has many benefits. It’s healthy. It’s

an excellent stress-reliever. It’s enjoyable.

Sometimes it helps with weight loss. It’s one

type of performance art, too. The added bonus of ethnic

or folk dancing is sharing one’s own culture with others

around us. As Korean society evolves to be more inclusive

of everyone living here, the impetus for welcoming

cultural exchange in such an expressive mode brings

multiculturalism to a new level.

In our perfect city, Jeonju, we have an expanding diaspora

of cultures represented in multi-cultural families,

including a group of Russian-speaking women from several

Eurasian nations. The group is still in its infancy but

seems to be advancing quickly, with growing popularity

nationwide.

Humble Beginnings

The Jeonju Eurasia Dance Troupe first started meeting

in March 2016. Some members of the group have been

dancing for many years, while others just like dancing.

Their common goal is to share the culture of their motherland.

The ladies come from Europe and Central Asia:

Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and the Republic of

Buryatia, a member of the Federated States of Russia.

Most of the ladies are married to Koreans, have children,

and lead very busy lives, working or teaching.

Aida Ulakbekova, the troupe’s publicity person, really

loves her “ladies.” “Dancing is second nature to me,”

she says, talking about her passion and drive to dance.

Vilena, the group’s choreographer, is a freshman student

of Korean history and literature at Chonbuk

g

[All photos by ANJEE DISANTO]

Jeonbuk Life 33


GLOBAL JEONBUK

National University. She has been dancing since childhood

and is a passionate and dedicated dance instructor

for the group. When asked how she creates the dances,

she replies, through a translator, “On the spot. I listen

to the music and the steps come to me.” She likes listening

to American songs, and looks to artists such as

Ariana Grande and Rihanna as role models.

Performing

To date, the group has learned two dances, a traditional

Uzbek dance and an original dance fusion choreographed

by Vilena. They aim to add dances from their

representative countries to their repertoire as their visibility

in the ethnic dance performance arena increases.

Next in line to be learned is a Russian dance, followed

by a Kyrgyz dance.

Since May last year, the Eurasia Dance Troupe has

performed three times on the big stage. Their very first

performance as a dance group was at a local high school

in Jeonju. Having gained much confidence from their

initial performance, and recognizing that their audience

really enjoyed and appreciated their dances, they applied

to participate in a larger dance competition.

Their next performance was on a much grander scale,

on the stage of the Arirang Multicultural Music Festival

at Everland in May of 2016. At this very public, national

event they met many other festival participants from

their motherland. As one of the dance members, Gulmira

Kulbaeva, shared when interviewed by Arirang,

“We made new friends here. It’s just really cool.” The

group’s spokesperson, Aida, shared that in this particular

event, the group represented four countries in one

dance, as dolls of each country. The dance involved

different songs, melodies, and steps for each of the four

countries represented: Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia

and the Republic of Buryatia.

The ladies were overjoyed with the results of their

first competition, coming in 1st place at the Arirang

festival. They received a monetary prize which now

helps cover the group’s expenses – travel and accommodations,

costumes, etc.

Following their national debut, the ladies were gungho,

excited to move forward and do more. They next performed

at the Multicultural Traditional Dance Festival

in Yonggwan. There they met two more dance groups

from the same region. They placed second after one of

those groups, and found out that the winning group had

entered that particular competition four times prior to

winning. It was an inspiration to see how well they were

progressing at doing something they truly loved.

In addition to these big-stage appearances, Eurasia

participated in one parade in Seoul, and has done a

number of smaller performances on-demand, such as

for a UNESCO event and a more local appearance at

Jeonju’s City Hall. Most recently, on November 3rd,

the Jeonju Eurasian Dance Troupe competed at a dance

competition of the 4th Korean Local Autonomy Exposition,

where they landed first prize. Since then, Eurasia’s

main project has been producing and promoting

a video for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics “Arariyo”

competition, which they hope to hear a good result

from after judging is complete in mid-January.

Connections

When it came to costumes for the stage, the ladies

had to find someone reliable and with whom they could

communicate efficiently and effectively. One group

member, Tamara, suggested Olga, from Uzbekistan,

who lives and works in Jeonju as a highly reputable

costume designer and seamstress. She makes costumes

for a variety of audiences, including belly dancers, ice

skaters, theater casts, dance groups and other performers.

She has created the troupe’s dance attire since the

beginning, and will likely continue doing so.

Tamara also volunteers as a teacher of Uzbek language

and culture at the Jeonju Multicultural Center for

mixed families. She is joined every second and fourth

Saturday at the Tamunah Center by fellow group member

Liana, who does the same for Russian. Their pupils

are the children of Russian or Uzbek-speaking parents

(mothers). In this way, their culture, language and history

are being perpetuated in their children.

Sacrifices

As wives and mothers, these women are making great

sacrifices to dance and share their culture. They spend

1-2 evenings per week practicing. During the week prior

to a performance, they practice every night for three

hours. It truly is a commitment and takes much dedication

to learn the steps, practicing at home as well as at

their rented studio space, located across from the Korean

Traditional Cultural Center near Hanok Village. It

reminds me of the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s

a way.”

Eurasia receives many requests to perform around

Jeonju and takes up each as an opportunity to reach a

larger audience. As their popularity increases and places

demand their time more, the ladies are continually

looking to invite new members to join their troupe. As

the group is still expanding and adjusting, their social

media presence has not yet developed, but a Facebook

page is forthcoming. Until then, keep an eye out for

these multitalented ladies and their performances in

Jeonju and around the peninsula.

Watch Eurasia’s recent entry in

the Pyeongchang Olympics

“Arariyo” video competition!

Search for “Pyeongchang

Arariyo Eurasia MV”

on YouTube.

Jeonbuk Life 35


GLOBAL JEONBUK

By FELIPE FIRMINO GOMES

JB Life Contributing Writer

The Lefundes Family might have been a typical

family in Rio – the place where they all

came from – but they are far from typical in

Jeonju. Fábio, the father, is the official physical trainer

for the Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors football club, a frequent

champion in the K-League (the official football league

for Korean teams) and current champion of the AFC

Champions League, having won the recent tourney with

other prominent teams in Asia. Patricia, the mother of the

family and Fábio’s wife, gives physical training advice to

other foreigners in the Jeonju area and has a successful

YouTube channel with almost 23,000 subscribers, mainly

from Brazil. In said channel, Patricia talks about many

aspects of the Korean lifestyle, usually comparing it to

how life works in Brazil, especially in Rio, while she replies

personally to each comment from a subscriber that

comes in touch with her. “Mãe da Marina,” the channel’s

FABIO - Physical Trainer for

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC

PATRICIA

Power

YouTuber,

SuperMom

MARINA

Trilingual,

H.S.

student

name (which translates to “Marina’s mom”), is also a

shared venue of communication with the world for Marina,

a young teenager who lives a life than can be easily

described as “close to a Korean teenager’s life without

actually being born in Korea.” All in all, the Lefundes

family is a perfect example of Jeonbuk’s ordinary yet

extraordinary expat families.

Club Culture and

Culture Clash

The whole family, it seems, is familiar to risks. Fábio

was working in Saudi Arabia when he received an offer

from Jeonbuk Hyundai. After some consideration and

two short contracts, Fábio came to Jeonju again with the

whole family – a five-year story of sacrifice and happiness.

“It doesn’t make sense to come here and expect the

same experience as there,” says Fábio, when referring

to some of the blatant cultural and social differences

between Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil. “You have to

adapt and get used to what you can locally.”

That said, adaptability works both ways and has involved

the Jeonbuk Hyundai staff as well. “We have

three Brazilian players on the team, and the Koreans

have learned that sometimes we just talk way too much,”

Fábio says. “They make fun of it, but they never ever

disrespect us for it. Also, they borrowed our habit of

playing music in the dressing room in the last moments

before a match – that in a place where some months before

there was only silence and total concentration.” But

he assures that it’s not all fun and games. About the roster

and athletes, Fábio pinpoints that he likes to make the

players work so hard after an injury that they won’t need

to see him again for a long time.

In terms of work environment, it’s commonly known

that Koreans follow a rigid structure of respect for their

elders, so a clash of culture would be imminent. Fábio

took that to heart in the lightest way possible, despite

the established structure. “Many times I opted for giving

my most honest opinion about certain techniques and

strategies, and they learned to recognize me for it,” Fábio

says. Truly, he doesn’t seem to have problem settling

down in a place where being hardworking is the rule and

stress can sometimes be common sense, because that has

always been his motto, ever since Brazil.

“That’s one of the main reasons why he succeeds here,

for sure. He can be even more stressed out and focused

than some Koreans,” explains Patricia.

Keeping that in mind, there are some big differences

of football philosophy between Korea and Brazil as well.

“The Korean philosophy is all about discipline and sacrificing

every little time for a better performance,” Fábio

notes. “They are used to that in many ways, and Brazilians

have to work harder than they usually do in Brazil,

to achieve the same.”

Like many expats, tranquility and quality of life are the

main factors that keep the Lefundes family here. Living

like a common Korean family makes a big difference in

their perception of the city.

“It’s funny because [my husband] eats more Korean

food than many of our Korean friends”, says Patricia

about Fábio’s adaptability. “It’s a lot about respect. It’s

how it is here, in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else.” The

family does say that the local food is a big part of the

draw here in the province, in terms of quality of life.

“They have the best food in Korea,” Patricia affirms.

“Even when you go to other places and taste their own

version of said food, the best version of it is here in Jeonju.”

g

36

Jeonbuk Life 37


Bridging Brazil and Korea

For expats of certain backgrounds, it’s quite easy to

find a base in Korea – English teachers have natural connections,

and Chinese and Vietnamese nationals have

large pools of their countrymen to contact here, for instance.

As for the Lefundes, the whole family agrees

it’s really hard to connect with an actual similar group

of expats in Jeonju, partially because of the nature of

football’s contracts (it’s common for players to stay for

a while and soon find new destinations to work). Croatians,

Spaniards, Koreans and just a few Brazilians end

up finding similar activities to do together in their circles,

but it’s tough to find free time together with people

outside of work, even between members of the family.

Each member has their own small group of people that

is formed by multiple nationalities.

Despite the distance from their country and countrymen

in general, it’s noticeable how the family works to

improve their experience here and live well. They are all

very digitally driven, with their own digital presence and

high influence on thousands of people, but, more than

anything, they are always connected to everything happening

back in Brazil.

“There is so much I wanted to share about Korea, so

I had to have a vlog, a channel about it,” Patricia notes

of the vlog she shares with her daughter. “Family and

everyone were always asking me about life here, so it

38

was just easier to put it all in the same place.” Fábio also

has a channel featuring a series of videos with progress

of training of some of Jeonbuk Hyundai’s big stars like

Leonardo, one of the team’s strikers.

About these YouTube channels, the family all agrees

that there are a lot of responsibilities in conveying any

kind of message through the internet and that there are

some misconceptions about Korea in general, especially

when it comes to education. “Some people want to

supposedly come here to study, thinking that they will

listen to K-pop and watch dramas all day long. But people

who already have a previous knowledge of the excellence

of education come here as an alternative to the

U.S., Canada, or the U.K.,” say Fábio and Patricia. The

family sees it as very important to check all the information

they disseminate to so many people, and Patricia

takes that very seriously: “I am always worried about

checking everything and about being the channel I wanted

to watch before I came to Korea. It’s really important

to show the reality, not reverberating illusions about the

country in people’s minds.”

Believe it or not, Korea and Korean culture are highly

present in Brazil these days. Even verbs like “SHIP UH”

(part of the grammar structure for “to want,” in Korean)

are often used in internet communication in sentences

in plain Brazilian Portuguese, like it is the most natural

thing in the world. About the growing perception of

Korea in Brazil, the family thinks Korean dramas and

K-pop are largely responsible for it, besides the grow-

ing Korean population, especially in Sao Paulo, where

there’s a whole neighborhood composed of Korean expats.

The same phenomenon also happens in Rio. “I was

shocked to know that there was a K-pop concert in Copacabana

during the Rio Olympics this year, with really

high attendance,” comments Patricia.

When asked what they missed the most about Brazil,

it was clear how the family is indeed settled and doesn’t

have too many difficulties in town right now. “I don’t

miss anything from there, because we can talk to family

all the time,” Fábio explained. “I wish I could bring my

whole Brazilian house here, but that is just wishful thinking.”

Marina, meanwhile, does miss something: “French

bread!” she is quick to answer. A very specific kind of

bread with a similar taste to a baguette, but much smaller,

very common practically everywhere in Brazil. These

are the sort of small details that one cannot help but miss,

no matter how easy to adapt to a country or city.

On a person to person level, the daughter, Marina,

notes that the very fact of living abroad can actually have

a good effect on many relationships in the country of origin.

“Sometimes I notice that people say ‘I miss you so

much,’ but I know they only say that because I am far. I

am not sure that they would miss me if I was too close,”

says Marina.

Marina is indeed a thoughtful and gifted girl. After

Find Patricia and Marina’s

channel by searching “Mãe da

Marina” on YouTube.

leaving Brazil, she learned to speak English fluently and

is getting close to fluency in Korean as well. She interacts

everyday with Korean teenagers and borrows a lot

of their realities and stories (splitting life between multiple

academies, championships, and accolades) but never

forgets her past.

“We always make her understand all aspects of her

multiple lives to not be deluded by the day-to-day here

and not feel superior to anyone else,” says Fábio. They

foster her to respect others on all levels, while respecting

her as well. “I like the Korean sense of respect to parents

and teachers,” says Marina, while Fábio adds, “but

that was already part of her personality before she came.

She was always respectful, so it wasn’t that hard to adapt

here. We treat her the same way Korean parents would

treat their kids.”

It’s easy to sense that the Lefundes are made from a

special stock. Chock that up to a charismatic chemistry

and a great sense of adaptability, along with their impossible

roster of unique stories, whether from football, the

local community, or internet exploits. With the nature of

the football lifestyle, it’s of course unknown how long

they will stay with the club and here in Jeonju, but, for

the time being, they are surely a family that represents

the multiplicity and multiculturalism of Jeonju.

Find Fabio’s

channel by searching “Fabio

Lefundes” on YouTube.

Jeonbuk Life 39


WORLDVIEW

by David van Minnen

Jeonbuk Life Co-Editor

NOTE: This article is part of a multi-issue series investigating

the religious roots of North Jeolla and

Korea throughout history until the present. It is the

aim of this series to sketch out the way Jeolla natives

think. This is for the purpose of greater understanding,

multicultural sensitivity, and to tear down the

walls of misunderstanding. Jeonbuk civilization has

its own unique, complex blend of history and mindset.

The picture in this series is admittedly painted with

a broad brush; but it may be a helpful backdrop to

your interactions and appreciation of our beautiful

host culture.

In previous articles, we looked at the Jeonbuk

worldview as a kind of layer cake. The bottom

layer is rather pristine, an animistic and colorful

Shamanism. The next layer on the ‘cake’ is Confucianism.

This layer is by far the thickest, with the strongest

taste, and it really ‘takes the cake.’ It is this layer that

distinguishes Korea apart most from all other cultures,

even nearby Asian cultures. There is no group on the

planet more rigorously Confucian than Koreans. It is

this that makes multicultural interaction most challenging.

It is not really a language barrier so much

as it is a worldview barrier that triggers a plethora of

baffling dramas for people from other cultures living

in Korea.

But this installment is about Buddhism in Korea,

and specifically in Jeollabukdo -- the

next layer of the cake.

Buddhism

Life is “dukka”: suffering (Sanskrit).

Young, old, rich, poor, physically,

emotionally, financially, we

all suffer. We all don’t want to. Sex,

drugs, and rock’n’roll are escapes. Religions

offer hope and meaning, but too often,

they just keep us busy. Like our other

escapes, religions actually more often just

give us more suffering.

Siddhartha Gautama left his affluent

home in India to live an ascetic life and

seek the answer to the problem of pain. If you have not

yet read Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, it is a small, easyto-read

volume, and one of the simplest, most endearing

accounts of the beginning of Buddhism ever written.

What follows is a very crude summary, not meant to be

disrespectful, but brief and easy to understand.

Raised in the Hindu worldview, Siddhartha saw that

we all suffer, and whether we are reincarnated as a higher

being or even an insect, our new self still suffers and

dies. Good karma brings you back as a higher form,

but with the same fate anyway. Nobody is free from

the ‘meat-wheel’ of reincarnation (samsara), karma, or

caste. Suffering is the doom of us all, and must somehow

be denied, or transcended.

Siddhartha found a way to overcome suffering.

Through rigorous meditation and self-denial, he denied

everything and achieved enlightenment, or Nirvana. It

turns out, the problem of pain isn’t pain, but wanting to

be comfortable. Comfort is just an illusion. By intense

mental training, he blew out the flame of desire, thus

quenching the sufferings of unmet desires. Thereby his

self, now denied, was flung free of the ‘meat-wheel’ of

endless reincarnation. He was enlightened: no longer

doomed to an endless rerun of a life of pain.

This enlightenment is the basic goal of

Buddhists. Monks shave their heads

and live in poverty to stop feeding

the desires of vanity and greed. To

feed a desire is to give it a stronger

appetite. To starve it is to—hopefully—cause

it to wither. The less

you are hindered by desires—and

their subsequent disappointments—

the more you are free to revel in the

miracle of the now; to lose yourself in

the nothingness. If you lose yourself

fully enough, you have achieved enlightenment,

and Nirvana. But at that

moment you don’t just vanish; you have

to continue to live out that life. So you

serve out your last roll on the ‘meat-wheel’

by sharing and guiding other seekers.

Living well as a Buddhist is where the

two main branches of Buddhism are distinguished:

Theravada and Mahayana.

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40

Jeonbuk Life 41


WORLDVIEW

Theravada Buddhism adheres to fewer scriptures: just

older ones (Pali language, from India, where Siddhartha

was from). This way is much more esoteric; silence

is golden, and the spiritual journey (or eightfold path)

is typically more inner, personal, and aloof from the

pursuits of regular daily life. Theravada Buddhists are

pretty serious about meditation and the personal quest

for Nirvana. This branch is dominant in Southeast Asia

(India, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand), and

is more ‘authentic’ to the quest of the first Buddha in

India. In Theravada thinking, you can’t help anyone

reach Nirvana until you have done so yourself. But

you will likely die trying.

Mahayana Buddhism adheres to many more scriptures

(sutras), which have much more to say about

practical living and celebrating and communing with

nature. The desires are denied, but not the whole world.

The monks tend to be a bit chubbier, jollier, and more

pastoral. The goals of enlightenment are applied more

practically, to improve and better enjoy this life, not eschew

it. You may not have achieved Nirvana, and may

even find it unattainable, but you are here to help others

on the quest. It’s kind of like taking down-payments

on Nirvana now, as long as you share the installments.

Mahayana adherents are more accessible, involved in

teaching laypeople and reaching out to the needy. This

branch of Buddhism is dominant in the colder parts of

Asia (Tibet, Mongolia, China, Korea, Taiwan).

Won Buddhism

Worthy of special attention is a branch of Mahayana

Buddhism called Won Buddism. The birthplace of

this particular movement is right here in North Jeolla

province! Very reformed and modernized, this could

be called ‘neo-Buddhism.’ The departures from traditional

Buddhism are radical enough that some argue

that it is an entirely new religion. In 1916, in Iksan, a

seeker named ChinSeop Park achieved enlightenment.

He later took the name Sotaesan.

Shortly after his enlightenment, he had a prescient

vision of a new age of materialism in which humanity

would be enslaved by their own creations. The only

way to save the world from this is to spread a double

remedy: spiritual mindset and compassionate living. He

wrote a new canon of Buddhist scriptures called “The

Correct Canon of Buddhism” that made enlightened

living simple, accessible, and practical to uneducated

common people.

Seotaesan called his school the Society of the Study

of the Buddhadharma, founding what we now know as

Wonkwang University. His successor renamed the faith

Won Buddhism and added another tome called The

Scriptures of Won Buddhism in 1962.

“Won,” in this sense, means “circle,” or “round.”

The idea is that this evolved form of Buddhism is

well-rounded and all-encompassing. Whereas one Buddhist

discipline may emphasize meditation, or another

emphasizes more on study or chanting, and yet another

on virtues or following the original Buddha’s quest,

Won Buddhism embraces all of the elements of Buddhism

in a balanced way, bringing all the approaches to

truth full circle.

Conceived and born in Jeonbuk, Korea, it should

not come as a surprise that Won Buddhism has a very

noticeable Confucian flavor. In fact, an astute evaluation

of the faith is that it is a syncretism of Buddhism,

Confucianism, and Daoism, boiled down for the uneducated.

Won Buddhism is now practiced all around the

world, including Argentina, Canada, and Germany, with

53 non-Korean locations listed on their official website.

Won Buddhism is rather unique in its history as well.

According to Daniel J. Adams, professor emeritus at

Hanil Seminary here in Wanju, “Won Buddhism has

emerged to outlive its founder, remain free from accusations

of scandal, avoid splitting into different sects,

and, while being seen as somewhat unorthodox by traditional

Buddhists, has never been accused of heresy.

Unlike other new religious movements in Korea whose

influence has waxed and waned with the times, Won

Buddhism has experienced a slow but steady growth

and its overall influence in Korean society has grown

considerably.” (Won Buddhism in Korea: A New Religious

Movement Comes of Age, D.J. Adams)

Won Buddhism wielded considerable influence during

the modernization of Korea. A number of studies

have been done on Sotaesan’s influence on Korea at a

time when the nation was disillusioned with the Donghak

Revolution and was being introduced to electricity,

railroads, and Western medicine. At this time, Jeolla

province was the most destitute part of a hurting Korea,

and the life of Sotaesan is, in the words of Kelvin Barrett’s

“Won Buddhism: A Modern Way,” “a fascinating

story of a man with little formal education, who moulded

a group of dispossessed people to be masters of their

lives and valuable members of society.”

Buddhism: reformed; updated; done right; the Korean

way; accessible to all... a success story. Won Buddhism’s

contribution to the Korean worldview is not to

be underestimated; it’s got quite a ring to it.

PHOTOS :

PREVIOUS PAGES -- Buddha statue at a

Korean temple in the countryside (Page 40);

monk graphic on a sign at a Buddhist temple in

Korea (Page 41). LEFT (top) -- Monk chanting

at Korean temple; (bottom) -- Buddha statue at

the bottom of Maisan, Jinan County.

ABOVE -- The characteristic “fish bell”

found on the corners of Korean Buddhist

temple roofs.

[Photos by ANJEE DISANTO]

42 Jeonbuk Life 43


SOCIAL SCOPE

Aiding the Community through the JWAU

By HEATHER ALLMAN

JB Life Contributing Writer

The oppression of minority groups knows no

boundaries, whether cultural or international,

physical or mental. Around the globe,

people of every age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality,

and ethnic background are victims of injustice.

Over the past few decades, the recognition

and necessity for a fight against the maltreatment of

minority groups has profoundly strengthened. Every

day, in the news, on social media, and in our own

communities, social and political groups righteously

defend those who may not be strong enough to defend

themselves.

One of the largest minority groups, (although ironically

a majority of the world’s population) is women.

Historically speaking, women in every culture and

society have been forced to combat persecution and

suffering, and have had to fight to gain equal opportunity

in their homes, workplaces, and communities.

The fight has not weakened, and neither has the hardship,

but due to the noble efforts of advocates for

equality across the world, significant progress continues

to be achieved.

It is essential for community

members, including expats, to get

involved with existing organizations

throughout Korea in order

to promote strength and

sociological progress.

44

Upon moving to a new country, foreigners decide

to become part of an already existent and thriving

community. It is their responsibility to offer generosity

to their new home, while working side by side

with its citizens to better the society they have now

become a part of. The Jeollabuk-do area has seen a

multitude of assistance through organizations like the

Jeonbuk Women’s Association United, Neighborly

Neighborly, Stepping Stones, and various other institutions

run by both Korean nationals and foreigners.

By donating time and/or money, it is not only possible

to improve the area that one lives in, but also to

demonstrate a positive representation of one’s own

nation.

The JWAU, or Jeonbuk Women’s Association United,

began in 1988 under the name Chonbuk Democratic

Women’s Association. The organization’s

mission is to uphold peace and human rights as they

should be valued, aiming to globalize and advance

the women of Jeonbuk. Regardless of their sociological

or national background, the JWAU works to help

women become part of a truly democratic society.

Since the introduction of the JWAU, the organization

has fought to ensure the safety and fair treatment of

women and children, barring them from the ever apparent

discrimination and violence in their own community

and across Korea.

In the past, foreigners in Jeonju have worked with

the JWAU to raise money and awareness for their

honorable cause. In 2009 and 2010, Jessica Hovey

served as the community organizer and director for the Jeonju

V-Day production of The Vagina Monologues, a performance

event that has continued over the years in Jeonju. V-Day is a

worldwide movement to end violence against women and girls.

For over 20 years, The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve

Ensler, has been a catalyst for women across the world in the

fight against violence. Based upon interviews that Ensler conducted

with over 200 women about their experiences as victims

of violence, the play addresses the sexual stigma and violent oppression

of those who “were assigned and/or identify as female.”

Unlike any work before it’s time, The Vagina Monologues found

immense success by taking an aggressive approach against a customarily

suppressed topic. After four years of successful touring

and countless testimonies of relatability from patrons of the play,

Ensler and a group of women from New York City established

V-Day on February 14, 1998.

Of the production, Hovey said, “The Vagina Monologues is

produced for two reasons – the first is to raise awareness of violence

towards women and girls (as well as to demystify the vagina)

and the second is to raise money for a charity that is specifically

working [for this cause].” Since it’s inauguration, V-Day

has become recognized as a global movement. In less than two

decades, the V-Day campaign has raised over $100 million which

has been distributed worldwide. The V-Day campaign asks volunteers

around the world to stage a presentation of The Vagina

Monologues anytime in February. With production costs kept

low and admission fees charged, each V-Day program chooses a

local beneficiary working toward ending violence against women

and girls.

Hovey chose to get involved because, “At the time, I was

acutely aware of the physical and sexual violence still plaguing

women and girls; I was also surrounded by good men (and some

women) who were unable to see how violence and sexism still

persist.

THIS PAGE:

Posters from

past expat-run

V-Day productions

in Jeonju,

all to benefit

the JWAU.

g

g


SOCIAL SCOPE

“I wanted and needed to bring these issues up for

serious discussion and I wanted to be able to help the

community I was living in, in a tangible way,” Hovey

said.

“Establishing a relationship with

the JWAU and making the

organization the beneficiary of

the V-Day campaigns allowed me

and all of us involved, to help

without creating cultural conflicts.

“The Jeonju V-Day Campaign and The Vagina

Monologues performances would not have happened

without the JWAU,” Hovey explained.

Over three years, V-Day productions of The Vagina

Monologues in Jeonju were able to raise over 10

million won to donate to the JWAU. No Hyun Jeong

of the JWAU said, “[Because of The Vagina Monologues,

the JWAU] could spend the useful money for

their work.” She continued with how impressed she

was by the support of so many foreigners, and continues

to be thankful to this day. With the money raised

by the Jeonju V-Day Campaign, the JWAU was able

to win a massive victory for women’s rights in South

Korea. As a result, Hovey was awarded the “Stepping

Stone Prize,” which was created in response to the

assistance given to the organization for “the development

of feminist movement and the improvement of

women’s rights in Jeonbuk.”

Women in even the most powerful and affluential

countries in the world continue to face domestic violence

and abuse today. In 2016, the World Health Organization

concluded that about one third of women

worldwide had been victims of physical and/or sexual

violence in their lifetime. In South Korea alone, 22%

of adult women have reported being raped. Without

community outreach and involvement, organizations

like the JWAU would be unable to find such substantial

success. In a world where, at times, the idea of

discussing domestic abuse and violence can be considered

“taboo,” it is imperative for community members,

both foreign and national, to intervene and raise

awareness.

The JWAU does not solely focus on combating violence

and abuse against women. Ms. No stated, “It

focuses on all kinds of women’s rights. There are 10

groups that have activated in Jeollabuk-do. Temporary

workers, sexual abuse, violence, the fair treatment of

handicapped women, labor [issues], political [issues]

and welfare are all [focused] on.” The organization

promotes activities for women’s policies, the achievement

of female-oriented laws, the encouragement of

women’s political power, networking activities to

strengthen solidarity with other Non-Governmental

Organizations, and the maintenance of a Center for

the Rights of Sex Workers.

Joni Page also directed and produced The Vagina

Monologues during it’s Jeonju V-Day productions.

She speaks highly of the work of the JWAU, stating

that their work far surpasses raising awareness

of the violent treatment of women and children. “I

was amazed at how much they do,” Page stated,

“And how much they do with their sister organizations

throughout the country. They [bring a lot

of] awareness towards females in general. The fact

that Korea has a female president with the gender

disparity [that existed] in this country [at the time]

was amazing…The stuff that the JWAU does is not

just [providing] a shelter, it’s trying to bring more

gender equality to women.”

The JWAU has not yet planned their events for

2017. No said that they are always grateful for any

donations that can be used to support their various

causes. Each month, the JWAU distributes a brochure

throughout Jeonbuk called “Bora Bora” (보

라 보라), which means “Look and Care for Women’s

Rights.” They are always accepting assistance

to fold and distribute the brochures. Additionally,

the JWAU plans to hold one “meaningful performance”

each year, like The Vagina Monologues, a

fashion show, or a concert with singers, where proceeds

will go to benefit the organization.

If you or any woman that you know is looking

for any sort of assistance, the JWAU helps women

of any nationality. Whether in need of support for

employment, domestic, political, or legal reasons,

regardless of their nature, they are willing to help.

The JWAU can be contacted by telephone at 063-

287-3459, or by email at jwau21@hanmail.net.

For more information, visit the Jeonbuk Women’s

Association United website at: http://jbwomen.

tistory.com/. The JWAU is not affiliated with the

government; therefore, the organization reserves

the right to the complete control of it’s affairs.

V-Day continues to thrive and grow. In 2017, the

V-Day organization will launch their campaign,

“One Billion Rising Revolution,” for “Solidarity

Against Exploitation of Women.” To find more information

about how to hold a V-Day production

of The Vagina Monologues, to donate to the campaign,

or to learn more, visit www.vday.org.

The original Jeonju

V-Day cast, directed

by Jessica Hovey

(second from left), adhering

to the common

red theme of V-Day

productions.

[Photo by Anjee

DiSanto]

Events run by the JWAU themselves.

[Photos courtesy of JWAU]

46 Jeonbuk Life 47 47


“BEING” IN JEONBUK

48

By SWARNALEE DUTTA

JB Life Contributing Writer

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the first

in a new section for 2017 titled “‘Being’

in Jeonbuk.” The intention of this section

is to share how local expats maintain their

lifestyles and their sense of “being” while

living in our province. This might include

being from a certain nationality, whether Indian,

Mexican, or Ethiopian, or being part of

a certain lifestyle, such as being vegetarian,

gay, or Muslim. Keep an eye out for this section

to see how people from all walks of life

survive and thrive while abroad.

As an Indian staying abroad, festivals are

the times I really feel homesick and wish

to be at home enjoying the celebrations, food,

excitement, and enthusiasm. I miss the jubilant atmosphere

spreading an intoxicating and infectious

feeling around. Everybody comes together to rejoice

in the traditions, keeping aside their differences.

While some festivals are just close-knit family affairs,

some are arranged and celebrated all together

as a community. Whether deities are worshipped or

just traditional playfulness prevails, the décor and

Rangoli

made of

spices for

Diwali

in 2016.

[Photos

provided by

Swarnalee

Dutta]

food are a must in all. As a child, wearing new clothes

and savoring the delightful food unique to each festival

was the ultimate fun, more so because studies were a

forgotten affair during festivals.

An agriculture-based country, most of India’s festivals

are season-oriented and surround the annual activities

of farming. Nature heralds every festival with

unique blossoms and a signature climate. We can just

feel the approach of a festival in the air without having

to look at the calendar. Staying away from home in a

far-off land, our biological system is so in tune with the

festivals that even if we do not find those welcoming

bouquets of nature here, our body and mind automatically

trigger the festive button sensing the vibes coming

from our native land.

So cherished are my childhood memories of festivals

that I want my child to have the same. But alas! I am

in a foreign land. It is not always possible to join some

of the Indian festivals celebrated by fellow expats here

due to constraints of time and distance. Back home,

the environment and people around make it easy for

the child to grasp the vibes and essence of celebration.

Here, me and my husband are on our own. So, on one

hand, we try to weave the origin, cause and concern,

social and psychological significance of each festival

into stories, narrating them for my toddler’s knowledge;

while on the other hand, we give our best to celebrate

and recreate the aura of a few festivals for him

to enjoy. Doing everything together and the tiny tales

that are created during those moments are actually the

joys we look forward to. The arrangement and preparation

of customary decorations as a family, wearing traditional

dresses, and food are our way of celebration.

Having said that, let me begin with the easiest one first.

Food

Every occasion has unique traditional dishes, and we

are fortunate to have an Indian grocery store at hand

with all the essential supplies. And thanks to globalization

and online markets, ingredients are available

worldwide to prepare the spicy Indian platter. Given

the hectic routine that we have between our respective

jobs, we prefer to make the easy-to-cook snacks like

Laddos made of coconuts,

chickpea flour, and sesame.

Eco-friendly Ganesh idol from

flour, turmeric, and kumkum.

Sweets made from chickpea

flour.

Jeonbuk Life 49


“BEING” IN JEONBUKS

the laddoos (ball-shaped sweets) of coconut, chickpea

flour, and sesame or kheer (porridge) made of rice,

semolina, etc. Of course, there are some hiccups, like

for the unique Ugadi pachadi (a special New Year recipe

of my husband’s place), which blends the six tastes

– sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and spicy – signifying

life as an amalgamation of happiness, grief, anger,

disgust, fear, and surprise. While jaggery, salt, pepper

powder, and tamarind are available, we do not get raw

mango and neem flowers for the pungent and bitter

tastes here. We substituted these two with dried Indian

gooseberry and fenugreek seeds. We also realized that

sticky Korean rice can substitute for borasaul (a rice

variety of Assam) to prepare pitha (a traditional snack).

So, overall, we can manage the food part of the festivals

and let the budding taste buds of our toddler relish

some of the native delicacies.

50

Dress and Decor

New (traditional) dresses are the foremost source of

joy for children, and mostly these are gifts from parents

and relatives. Although the online market is gearing

up with Indian brands to cater to the needs of fellow

citizens abroad, our dear ones back home kept it the

original way by sending us the dresses as gifts. Required

accessories are also available online. Or we can

make them with the sparkles and glitters available in

any stationery or gift store here, like for the occasion of

Janmashtami (birthday of Lord Krishna), when small

children are dressed up as little Krishna with a crown of

peacock feather and flute in hand, eating maakhan (butter).

For two consecutive years now, I have made the

crown, and this year I even made a dummy flute. Some

day, I hope my toddler feels happy to see his photos in

that attire munching the butter cubes from Costco.

The joy of decorating the house together has a different

charm, be it the alpona (rice-flour floor art) of

Lakshmi puja or rangoli (floor décor with colored powder

and lights) during Diwali. Since we do not get the

colors here, I developed my own rapid rangoli from the

kitchen with colorful lentils last year and spices this

year. Making an eco-friendly idol of the Elephant-God

for Ganesh Chaturthi also challenged my creativity.

Last year, I made a Ganesh idol of ground dates and

nuts, while this year I used flour dough with turmeric

and kumkum (a kind of vermillion) for colours. It was

fun to include my toddler this year in these activities

and the joyous outcome will be cherished forever.

Dressed as

“Little Krishna” in

2015/2016.

Celebrating Holi in Jeonju with

the Indian and foreign community.

[Photos by Jyotiranjan

Bal]

The Rituals and Essence

Having been brought up in a home where rituals during

festivals meant doing things which make us feel

closer to the omnipresent divine strength and finding

inner peace, I have always had my own way of celebrating

each festival apart from the prayers and hymns.

Engaging in decorations had always made me feel

happy, and now, preparing the food also brings a sense

of joy. Then, there are innumerable traditional festive

songs which depict the story behind these festivals. My

almost 2-year-old is grasping and learning these very

fast. I am sure God will not be able to ignore the little

one singing in broken words, repeating it over and over

again in a loop.

While festivals celebrated as community cannot be

duplicated here, we were fortunate to celebrate Holi

(the festival of colors) with fellow-expats in Jeonju. We

could feel the true essence of festival that day when people

irrespective of nationality came together and painted

a picture of happiness and friendship. We enjoyed

playing with home-made colors made of flour, turmeric,

and powders of strawberry and blueberry (courtesy of a

Korean friend in the tteok business) while relishing the

Indian snacks and traditional drinks. Co-hosted by the

local volunteer group “Neighborly Neighborly”

and supported by the Jeollabuk-do Center for International

Affairs, we were glad to be a part of such a

heart-warming celebration.

Blessed are we to be able to celebrate our festivals

here in our own way. The true spirit of any festival is

to celebrate life, and we are fortunate to be in Jeollabuk-do,

the hub of so many native festivals. Walking

on a tight rope balancing the awes and woes of life,

festivals remind us of the beauty and joy we deserve.

Signing off with this quote:

“What life expects of us is

that we celebrate.”

-José Eduardo Agualusa

Mother

and son

in holiday

clothing.

Jeonbuk Life 51


FICTION

Have you ever had those moments where you

think “I could do that.” And then you picture

yourself doing something outrageous and

impulsive, like kissing a stranger or jumping in a fountain.

But then you don’t do that thing because you are

an adult and you have common sense. I have these kinds

of thoughts often, at least once a day, though I’ve never

actually counted. I don’t know if this is more or less than

the average sane person because I don’t tend to talk about

what goes on in my head with many people. Frankly, I

am pretty certain that I’m about 20% more crazy than the

average female already, no need to add to that number.

Though, if you ask my ex, that number should be way

higher... but that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, so there I was, standing in the middle of the

airport, clutching my little carry-on suitcase, wondering

what the hell I was going to do. Logically, I knew I could

simply find a hotel and enjoy California by myself. I had

plenty of money saved up, and at 23 it’s not like I needed

a chaperone. But that’s when I had the idea. That awful,

reckless idea. I imagined myself going to the ticket counter

and buying a ticket to some random place. I had the

money, and my passport, and I had never traveled much

outside my home state of Minnesota.

And then I did it. I did the crazy impulsive thing. One

tram ride and several minutes of speed walking later (big

airport) I was staring at the ticket counter, watching the

departure flights and trying to pick somewhere to go.

I still don’t know how I chose Seoul. I just saw it and

decided that was the place I wanted to go. Luckily, San

Francisco is a major hub for flights going to South Korea,

so I was able to buy a same-day ticket. When I got off

the plane in Seoul, I had this crazy urge that my journey

wasn’t over yet. So I purchased a bus ticket to another

random destination, a town called Jeonju somewhere in

the country. And so here I am, sitting here in this bus in

the middle of a country I have only heard about briefly on

the news. And just now I am starting to wonder if I am

maybe a little bit more than 20 % crazy.

*****

There is still four minutes left until our departure time.

The bus is starting to fill up and I am fascinated with how

52

By

Betsey

Norman

many Asian people occupy the seats. It hits me that I really

am in another country. The airport was just another

airport, and the bus I boarded was nothing abnormal. But

watching all of the well-dressed Korean people settle into

the seats around me gets me. In America these is almost

always some diversity. Especially if you live in the city

like me, it’s very hard to be somewhere, like a bus, where

there is only one ethnicity present. And then here I am,

one lone yellow-haired Northerner amongst a sea of raven-haired

beauties. It’s a weird feeling; I’m not used to

standing out.

I cringe as that reminds me of the debacle that was Immigration;.

Apparently, it is not looked upon kindly if

your answer to “purpose of visit” is “I don’t know.” Add

to that the fact that I looked like I had just walked through

a tornado, and you get one very silent Immigration officer

checking my passport and documents eight different times

before letting me through. Luckily I didn’t need a visa, or

this little adventure would have been over before it started.

I glance up as I notice an old man putting his bag in the

overhead above our seat. He’s got that wise old grandpa

look about him, and I muse that the look translates pretty

easily through different cultures. He unbuttons his suit

jacket to sit down and I brace myself for the wink.

I have a face old men like to wink at. No, stop laughing,

it’s true. Something about my youthful innocence and

goldilocks-esque curls get the old men winking, not in a

sexual way, in a “you could be my granddaughter” way.

My sister told me once that it’s because I always look lost,

like I need one of those wise old wizards from every fantasy

movie ever to guide me.

This time, however, my seat partner doesn’t wink. I

don’t know why I am disappointed, but I am.

“Anyeonghaseyo,” he says with a smile. I feel my heart

speed up and I rack my brain for anything I could have

learned about the Korean language. Nothing. Nada. I hope

what he says means “hello” because I say it back to him.

Thankfully I am rewarded with a small bow and a bigger

smile; it is definitely some kind of greeting.

“Great.” I tell myself. “Just great Cassa. You are in a

foreign country and you’ve managed to figure out how to

say “hello.” That’s going to be so helpful when this bus

stops who-knows-where and you can’t even ask the bathroom.”

Korean grandpa is oblivious to my self-scolding,

and he holds out his hand.

“My name is James,” he volunteers in English. My relief

at hearing my native tongue must show, because he

chuckles a little before I can collect myself enough to

shake his hand.

“I’m Cassa.”

“Short for Cassandra?”

“No, just Cassa.”

When he raises his eyebrow I laugh.

“I know, my parents are weird. My sister is Angie, not

short for anything, just Angie.”

James gives a small laugh, and that’s all the encouragement

I need to ramble on.

“My theory is they wanted to give us something to

talk about with new people. A unique name is a great ice

breaker,” I say before realizing maybe grandpa James

hadn’t signed up to be seated next to chatty Cathy when

he introduced himself. Before I can catch myself going

on about my parents and my sister, I smile politely at him

turn to look at the back of the seat in front of me.

And there’s the panic again, I turn my attention back to

the clock. Two minutes now.

“What brings you to Korea?” It takes me a moment to

realize the question was directed at me.

“Huh?” I turn to face James again. The amusement is

out in full force now, and he finds me hilarious.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but you don’t seem like

an expat. What brings you to Korea?” He asks again as

illustration by

Sarah Hodgkiss

the driver starts the engine and we pull away onto the

highway.

There it is. The million-dollar question. Why am I here?

Why couldn’t I just have stayed in San Fran? Or gone

somewhere where I know the language? Even my high

school Spanish would have been better than nothing. But

I chose South Korea. The only thing I know about South

Korea is that it’s not North Korea, and there was that song

that was popular on YouTube a few years ago. “Kangnam

style” or was it “Gangnam style”? I don’t remember, I remember

the dance though, it was pretty catchy. But other

than that I know nothing. Until today I have had no desire

to visit South Korea. In fact, if I am being honest, I have

had little desire to visit anywhere really.

I am not the sort to go on adventures. I don’t thrive on

adrenaline and I don’t have an ounce of wanderlust in my

blood. Or so I thought. I like stability. I am an accountant

for goodness sake! Can’t get more boring and stable

than that. I don’t like to do anything out of the ordinary.

I don’t even like to change my order at McDonald’s if

I can help it. So how on Earth did I find myself here?

Halfway across the world with no idea where to go next.

I realize that I had been so lost in my thoughts that I

never answered James’s question. I turn to my seat partner,

whose thin face shows the deep laugh lines and

weathered skin of a man who has lived quite a bit of life.

I wish then that he really was some kind of wise old wizard

sent to guide me. At the very least he seems the sort

of man who would appreciate an honest answer, so I answer

the best I can as the bus speeds away towards our

destination.

“I really don’t know.”

Jeonbuk Life 53

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