In June I saw two high quality dance performances. First, I went to the National Theatre of Korea (국립극장) to see the National Dance Company of Korea (국립무용단) perform their awesome staging of "Altar" <단(壇)>. It is among the top three dance performances I've ever seen.
The choreographer Professor Sungsoo Ahn 안성수 교수님 is truly brilliant. I hope to see something by him again.
I also recently went to see the Kim Young-Hee's Mutdance's (김영희 무트댄스) 20th Anniversary performance. It was very good. The dancers were extremely expressive (and very beautiful), and the music was haunting, adding to the emotive choreography. http://www.mutdance.com/
I got to see Edge of Tomorrow and Maleficent which were both quite fun. I also watched the Korean film "No Tears for the Dead" <우는남자>. It's by Lee Jeong-beom (이전범), the same director of "The Man from Nowhere" <아저씨>, so I was obviously excited to see it. Sadly, it was quite disappointing. The best part of the movie is the poster!
Apart from my regular Taekwon-Do training I also organized a Systema workshop at the beginning of the month.
Two or three Sundays back I went to a Brazil festival in Seoul where they had Capoeira practitioners performing. The leader of the group recognized me. We are "friends" on a social network. It's nice to meet people in real life.
And over the last weekend of the month I co-organized another Taichi session, this time focussing on the Five Animals Qigong Exercises. I'm thinking of joining the Taichi gym once a week over the next month or so, over most of my vacation. There is a class in English on Mondays that teaches Chen Style, which is the style I'm most interested in as it resonates well with ITF Taekwon-Do.
After quite some planning I got a long awaited book on Taekwon-Do history that I need for my research. The book costs $99, but getting it posted from the USA to South Korea costs about as much as the book. Finally I heard that one of my friends were coming to visit Korea so I begged her to carry the heavy article with her. Luckily she obliged.
Speaking of things arriving... I finally got my 5th Dan certificate, which means that I can now officially call myself a fifth degree black belt.
Something that visitors to Seoul often do is go up Mt. Nam (Namsan) and visit the Seoul Tower. After my attendance at the National Theatre of Korea for a dance performance, my friend and I decided to hike up the mountain, seeing as the theatre is already a third up the mountain already. I haven't gone there in probably two or three years, so it was nice just to do the leisurely walk. Mountain climbing is more appropriately called mountain hiking, as there are very nice trails to get to the top. Seoul Tower is probably one of Seoul's two most prominent landmarks, and provide an exceptional vantage point from which to look at the city.
The other most prominent landmark in Seoul is the Han River which I also visited about a week ago, and went on a ferry cruise/buffet with some friends. At the moment there are the most beautiful flower patches all along the river, and some parks to relax in the late afternoon breeze.
In celebration of my semester finally coming to an end I went with a friend to Ocean World this past Friday. Although the lines were quite long, I still got to enjoy many water rides. One of the best things about it was that I got to enjoy student's discount of over 50%!
This month I really experienced a variety of tasty food. There were some of the old classics, like the awesome Thai food restaurant in Noksapyeong called Taste of Thailand, or the superb Italian restaurant in Hongdae, Kitchen 485 (서울시 마포구 서교동 399-24), or Sushi Den between Konkuk University Station and Ttukseom Resort Station. But I also tried some new things.
The first wasn't exceptional, but it was nice tasting this old Seoul classic: an ice cream sandwich known as a "Monica ice cream"(모니카 아이스크림) from the famous Taegeuk-Dang bakery (태극당), one of the oldest bakeries and dessert spots in Seoul.
Speaking of ice cream, a friend took me to a new connoisseur ice cream parlor that got me all giddy. Fell + Cole Gastronomic Ice Creams is phenomenal. There are three branches, one on Hongdae, another in Gangnam, and a third in Jongro. We went to the one in Hongdae and I had a "Roasted Caramel with Smoked Sea Salt" ice cream cone.
Another dessert place that will blow your socks of is Eclairs by Garuharu. When they gave me a small peace of their vanilla éclair it was so unexpectedly good, that I something akin to an orgasm. Seriously, this place makes the best éclairs I've ever had in my whole life. And these beautiful éclairs are definitely food for the eyes as well. That rose one is absolutely brilliant. (서울시 용산구 이태원동 247-9)
As you may know, I'm always searching for good hot chocolate. A few evenings ago a friend took me to a place that serves Spanish dark hot chocolate with churros. It is deficult to find good hot chocolate in Korea, so Chocolate Con Churros is definitely a great place to try if you are in the Seongbukdong area, about a 10 minute walk from Hansung University Station. (서울시 성북구 성북동 124-5)
I've also tried Gangnam Croquette for the first time a week ago. Apparently it is quite famous. I had the vegetable curry one. It reminded me a bit of South African curry vetkoet.
Work and Studies
The end of the semester meant, of course, a lot of work and study stress with making out exams, grading heaps of assignments and exam papers, managing problematic students, and regarding my own PhD studies, giving presentations and writing reports and essays. Luckily, after quite a number of sleepless nights I'm finished. I'm still waiting for the grade results of my PhD classes, but was happy to see this morning that at least the results of one of the classes are open, and I got an A+.
I've been working with another professor where I work on searching for and reviewing textbooks that we may want to use for classes next semester. I've also received the last of classes that I would be teaching. I'm teaching two new classes and we may be changing the syllabi for other classes, so I'll probably have to spend a number of my vacation just doing prepping for next semester. But that's okay. At least I can sleep late every morning.
My friend Chonghee came to visit her family from the States, so we also made two appointments to catch up. It was great seeing her again. On a sad note, someone I've become rather close to, Ps Clif Maberly and his wife Karen left Korea and moved to Egypt. I've enjoyed numerous moments with Clif that is very unique to the type of person he is, and the type of person I am. For instance, how many Christians do you know that would attend a Buddhist temples on Buddha's birthday, or visit a Shaman museum. Because we worked in different departments (I'm teaching English Literature, and he is a missionologist) we didn't have that many opportunities to hang out; however, the time we did spend together was always of value. I also spend good times with other friends--realizing that if there is meaning to life, then it must be something to do with relationships, with connection.
Of course there are more relational things that happened in June, but not everything need to be posted online. ^_^
Motorhead earphones, which has an exceptional bass and mid-range was on sale. So I promptly got me a pair. Have been happy so far.
Well, these are some of the highlights from June. My orchid also started blooming and smells wonderfully sweet. I'm not exactly sure what type of orchid it is, though. I got it as a gift a year ago.