suhnsangnim, chukha hamnida!
05/15/2009 - 05/15/2009
The reason why we were called back from Jeju Island was to accompany SJ's mother to various schools on Teacher's Day, a holiday on May 15th where current and former students pay their respects to their teachers by giving them flowers or cards. We learned how to say, "Teacher, congratulations!" --> "Suhnsangnim, chukha hamnida!" And thus armed, we were off to our first school of the day, the all-boys high school of SJ's younger brother HD. It was quite a drive through the city to the school, which was located at the top of the hill and supposedly was the setting for the filming of some famous Korean drama (Autumn Story maybe?). When we got there, with gifts in tow, they were having a morning audience on the vast field outside, schoolboys neatly lined up. How cute!
After they were dismissed, we were shown around the school by HD, which caused a minor stir since we were the only females on campus. It's a huge school complex, with an elementary school, middle school, high school, and university area as well. There was a rock-climbing wall, which I found fantastically incongruous. The presence of girl's bathrooms was nice - but they didn't have any toilet paper in them, which I suppose made a sad kind of sense. We got to meet some of the teachers when we asked for TP, and they even threw in some Lamisil cream for a scrape I got on the rock climbing wall. Nice thought, although I'm not sure how much good an anti-fungal cream will do for me...
We were guests at HD's class, where the class presented the teacher with a bouquet (how sweet!). After that, SJ and her mother took turns giving a speech at the front of the room (to motivate the students?). At one point T and I had to come up to the front to introduce ourselves in broken Korean. It was a little nerve-racking, but for the most part we sat on the side and watched the typical classroom dynamics - kids in the front were paying rapt attention, while those in the back drifted into oblivion. After visiting HD's school, we paid a visit to SJ's mother's old school, a Catholic university where she presented her teacher with a plant and introduced us. Tada~ the end of Teacher's Day!
After lunch at a terrific bibimbop place, SJ, T and I went through Insadong, an area with a lot of traditional crafts stores, and then headed towards the Myeongdong Migliore, a huge complex with floors and floors of fashion and accsesories. Each floor of the Migliore had multiple little stores peddling cute clothes, although certain styles were dominant - ruffly cute pastels, bright colored and sporty, ghetto-style, etc. I gravitate towards ruffly cute stuff, so it was fun to look at the clothes and see if there was anything we liked. Unfortunately, at most of the stores we weren't allowed to try on the clothing so it was a matter of eyeballing it. We learned a few key phrases while shopping at the Migliore - "Pissaa! Kaka chuseyo!" Which is probably terribly romanized, but basically means - "Too expensive! Make it cheaper!" But in general, a dubious look and a shaking of the head worked pretty well. T turned out to be a master at bargaining, with storekeepers giving up their lunch money for a sale. It was kinda hilarious - she would look appraisingly at a piece, tilt her head, shake it. And then they'd lower the price, inching down and down til the storekeeper was practically begging for mercy. And then bam! Sale.
Our crowning achievement was at one of the accessory stores. Korean accessories trend towards the sparkly and cute, and this was no exception. We were eyeing a few crystal adorned hairsticks, which were advertised as ~$20 USD each - but after some wheedling on our part (come on, we're buying three of them, etc etc) we managed to bring it down to ~$5 USD apiece. We walked fully satisfied, our sparkly prizes in our hair.
Tuckered out by shopping, we had dinner at Sinpo Woori Mandoo and ate our fill of dumplings. We walked around the area some more, and got accosted into Nature Republic by extremely aggressive salespeople on the street, who basically shoved us inside. Nature Republic is kind of like a Body Shop in the US - selling "natural" beauty products and cosmetics - except they have Rain (bi) as their spokesperson. Rain is a pretty big deal in Korea, and somewhat in the US as well... so we had to take a picture with the Rain cardboard cutout, and maybe buy a few facemasks... Sigh, I guess aggressive marketing really does work.
Onto more shopping tomorrow!