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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:58 pm
by EleanorT
I recommend you try the bibimbap rice dish (and many others - I love Korean food!), and look out for a tea house (or better, ask someone!) - they have an amazing array of teas like nowhere else I've ever been to and the settings of the tea houses are often very chilled. Not that you'll have much time to spare, I imagine, but you never know...

PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:40 am
by Charlie
EleanorT wrote:I recommend you try the bibimbap rice dish (and many others - I love Korean food. Not that you'll have much time to spare, I imagine, but you never know...

You are right about not much spare time, Eleanor, but I do have to eat, and yes the bibimbap rice snack is a brilliant alternative to any fast food I've had anywhere else, lots of freshly cooked vegetables served in a bowl that is then mixed with freshly cooked rice and, for the brave, some very hot tomato sauce.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:09 am
by judith
Did you ever find uiwangmike? I think it's amazing - traveling to Korea, connecting with people met on this forum/the internet. Even Garth's book has photos that manifested through the forum.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 7:19 pm
by Charlie
First, an explanation. I was invited to attend PAMS - Performing Arts Market, Seoul - along with other world music professionals who were all involved in presenitng live music, including Peter Hvalkof from Rosskilde Festival in Denmark (primarily a rock festival, but Peter's brief is world music), Maarten Rovers from Utrecht, Netherlands, Patrick De Grootefrom Antwerp, Mike Orlove from the City of Chicago for whom he organises free music events very year, and Olivier Delsalle and Charlotte Latigrat from L'ile de France Festival. Quite why I was chosen is a bit of a mystery but I suspect the influence of Mark Ringwood, who doubles as an agent for live musicians and as a DJ on local radio in Sussex.

At Seoul airport, a volunteer had been assigned to greet every visitor and show us where the bus queue was situated to catch the airport bus, a touch I have never encountered before. For the next four days, this kind of detail turned out to be typical, as were accompanied to a seemingly endless succession of live performances of Traditional Korean music. Having made no attempt to familiarise myself before leaving, I was in totally new territory but soon came to recognise a few recurring instrumental elements and one or two terms of reference.

Collectively, the music is Gugak, which I think literally translates as music of Korea.

Individually, one of the most distinctive forms is Pansori, a kind of musical in which a leading singer, usually a woman, plays two or three roles, sung in different voices so the audience knows who is who. For the most memorable performance (of an adapted Brecht play) we were helped by having the dialogue translated on a screen at the back of the stage. I must dig out the name of the singer who knocked us all out.

After each performance, we were greeted by a volunteer who made sure we were on the right bus or in the nearest taxi to get to the next show on time. I seemed to have one such helper all to myself, Bo Yeon Shin. and could not get over how conscientious she turned out to be.

I picked up or was handed CDs that I will work my way though in the hope of finding music that still carries power without the help of visuals and context. For the live promoters, they can bring the whole package to their audience, and it seemed likely that there will be a succession of Korean performers at festivals and theatres over the next year or so. As a propaganda/indoctrination campaign, it was irresistible. But I wonder how many countries have such a rich heritage to draw from.

We did not have much time to explore the city of Soul, and I cannot claim to be any kind of expert after such a short stay. It was not an obviously impressive place, most of it quite recently built, comprising functional rather than alluring buildings. But the theatres were very well designed, with great acoustics (London venues, please note).

Many thanks to forum correspondent uiwangmike for taking an afternoon off in order to lead me around the DVD shelves of one of the biggest bookshops in town, to pick out half a dozen of the best South Korean films which are widely recognised as being among the best of the current crop of films made throughout South East Asia. And also, for giving me his copy of the book A Corpse in the Koryo by James Church, the first of a series about Inspector O, a fictional North Korean detective inspector whose dry take on life is amusingly represented.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:06 am
by Charlie
Charlie wrote: I must dig out the name of the singer who knocked us all out.

Thanks to an email from Miok, a manager for the group Dulsori, I now have the name: Jaram Lee. So now I must look to see if I have anything by her on CD.