nedelja, 24. junij 2012

kung kung tong

One year ago I had an argument with a Korean guy who was praising Korean's working habits. I just laughed at him because he was implying that abnormally  long working hours are equal to hard working hours. He was just pissed off when I told him that Korea is really at the top of the OECD's list by working hours, but it' also ranked number 20 (or somewhere like that) by productivity - being surpassed by countries where workers spend almost half of the time at work compared to Koreans. So don't tell me about hard working people. He just flipped. Then how do you explain our economical success? The so-called Korean miracle that happened in the 90's? That we have many leading industries and the largest corporations in the world? Here he had a point. How? I have no idea how that is possible. I can only guess that this is the reason why it was called "miracle" - definition by dictionary: noun 1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
This is a sort of an answer to the comment on my last post. And it's not only about cars. Think about all the electronics. I really really wonder how do they make all such stuff.
I had lots of funny things to write about the house we're building... but take a look now, I bet you'll find it quite nice...

Just.. just don't try to find a square angle in it. Mission impossible. But it looks good, doesn't it? Oh yes, I really don't know where I found that there was eight of us carrying that large bastard of a bookshelf because all the time there was only six of us working... My bad. But, anyway, here's a picture of it, made from 8cm boards.

And Friday we were off. A nice long weekend. So on Friday I went to my first class of 장고, the slim waist drum, in an unused school. I played this one:

 Some of my classmates:
To play it you use two different beating sticks, one for the high pitch (right hand) and for the low pitch in the left. And we started. Ta (high pitch, kung (low pitch) and tong (both simultaneously) then tong tong kung ta-tong kung kung tong kung-ta and so on. I was out of rhythm almost all of the time but nobody yelled at me or called me stupid because mostly everyone was there for fun. And at times it really was fun, when all 16 of us managed to catch the rhythm and the teacher started to speed it up it felt really great. Here's our teacher, on the left:
  On his right is the hapkido master. When we finished our beating session h asked me if I would like to join the next class, his class. Um well I'm not really sure... Don't worry, we'll go easy on you. I survived. The only thing that still troubles me is a big wooden board in his dojo (actually another classroom in the same school), full of small holes. Near it a box of chopsticks. First thing, like a monkey on an IQ test, I checked if the size and shape of the holes match the chopsticks. Perfectly. I told you I wouldn't mess with that guy. But I love drinking with him. After lessons we had along drive somewhere in the middle of Mt. Jiri, where people try to live in the traditional way, but it seems that the place is now quite popular with tourists.
But if you just turn your back to the bus parking and the neon signs, the place is amazingly beautiful.
In this same place we had dinner and lots of homemade makkoli, later lots of mulberry wine. They served us a pile of meat to roast, crap, I stopped complaining about that long ago, be it, I'm their guest and they are doing their best. It took me two bottles of makkoli to remember that the hapkido master is a vegetarian. Hey, how come you eat it?It's dog, I can eat that. Urgh. OK, at least they weren't silkworms. Now I know, I can eat dogs, but not silkworms.

četrtek, 14. junij 2012

From The Mountains of Madness to the Mountains of 강원도... And Back

According to Giobbe Covatta (and I fully agree with him), fairy tales are populated with idiots. Like Little Red Riding Hood, for example. Not enough that her loving mother let her go in the wood alone, no, there she meets a wolf so stupid that even the WWF would be pleased to exterminate him and not to talk about her granny. Do you have a dog? Put him on your granny's nightgown and a pair of glasses. Does he resemble your granny? Well, do her a favor... shoot her.
The Fairy Tale of a Roof
I bet you thought that my construction comedy was over... so did I. But it was just the beginning, the woodwork. Then came the roof. And two trucks of tiles. Luckily with a crane, so we had to unload the pallets on the roof, which took us one afternoon. The next morning.. comedy again. Two days earlier we made - I lack the correct words - something like a wooden frame on which to lay the tiles so that they will have the correct curvature, as in the Korean tradition. Well, when all the roof was covered with piles of tiles the trade masters found out that they made it wrong. Great. You were two days on that roof and you didn't notice that before? Now what? Yep, remove the tiles (3kg each). Luckily the scaffolding around the house was still there so we managed to remove the tiles and repair the frames in one day and in another two days the roof was completed. But without me. The last day of that job I was awoke at 5 am as usual and was drinking coffee when Ssang Pyeong came to pick me up, but I had no more nerves. I told him that I was taking a few days of, going to Gangwon do to visit my princess.
Gangwon do And Seoul
It's a long way to Gangwon do by bus. I managed to have a long conversation with text messages with my princess and only once I had to forward one sentence to my teacher (yes, it was all in Korean and I'm proud of it).  And, oh bliss, she was happy as me when we met again, she didn't care about the cake, the chocolate and the gifts, she just hugged me and smiled. 
She was a bit upset when I told her that I came for a really short visit and that I don't know when I'm coming back, but she promised she will come to visit me during the summer vacation. I hope she will. Then it was time for her skin care with a hwangto facial mask...
And I got my share too... 
And it was time to go. I stopped in Seoul for some shopping - big size shoes, got me a nice pair of trekking shoes and  a pair of AllStars. And a hard disk of 250GB, the smallest they had, for 40 000won. And, the most important, to have lunch with a good friend.
And We're Back After A Short Break
The roof on the house was done, but not yet the walls. I had a day to work on my field, cleaned maybe 10% of the weeds and was back at the construction site. For the walls.  Now I have to warn you again. I know this will look all made up. The Theatre of the Absurd. But I know one guy who worked there with me and he will believe every single word. Pudding (aka The Little Budda) was not there and God knows how I missed him. That says it all.
When I see building a room without windows I have no troubles with that. Maybe the guy is an amateur photographer and wants to have a darkroom. Cool! But.. why does he need three (3) darkrooms? Oh crap, we forgot the windows!Oh well, if it's nothing worse, we'll just pull these three walls down and make them again. Yes, and order another truck of bricks. 
If you think that's all you're dead wrong.
One of the masons must be a true fan of E. A. Poe, especially of his Cask of Amontillado. Because one of the above mentioned rooms without windows almost ended also without a door. Almost. Nevertheless we had to pull down a part of the wall to remove a huge piece of scaffolding from that room. At least the guy was not a complete moron, he was playing the part of Montresor, not Fortunato.
It's all chaos. We move every brick at least three times. There's another guy that works there with me like unqualified labor force, we move the bricks (three times at least), mix and carry the mortar, clean up and so on. He is actually a hapkido master and even if I can carry more than twice as he can I would never dream to start a fight with him. But I still can bet with him. Yesterday the brick laying boss showed us a place where to move 600 bricks. I looked around and just nodded, saying, just to myself, cool, the most stupid place in the house, I wonder when we will have to move them again. The hapkido guy heard me (he speaks a decent English) and asked me why do I think so. Because we're in Korea and this is the Korean way of doing things. He was puzzled by my negative attitude so we did bet. We were both lucky, me twice. We didn't move more than 100 bricks when the same boss came around and was shocked why we're putting the bricks there. No no, put them in the other room! Dag, how the hell did you know this would happen? Because we're in Korea and this is the Korean way of doing things and I'll be damned but I still think in a foreign way and can see stuff like this and... you lost, the beer is on you today!
No, I'm not over. 
There was a huge (really huge) bookshelf we had to move in the house before the front wall was made, so big it is. It took eight people to lift it and carry it, a massive bastard of handcraft carpentry art. We all had to change our gloves for a pair of new ones because it was so beautifully made. And mind on the corners, don't scratch it! After a lot of sweat (and swear) it was in the house... and now where do we put it? Just here, we're going to wall it up in the bedroom. What do you mean by "wall it up"? That we're going to wall it up in the bedroom wall. Christ on a cracker, why were we so freaking careful then if it will end walled up? Because it's so new and beautiful! But it's gonna end walled up the same! So who cares if it's scratched, dirty or even broken? But it's new and so beautiful!
I gave up. I was too afraid I might eventually agree with a logic like that.
But it makes me happy. I might have realized every kid's dream - to live in a fairy tale. OK, I admit it, this was a low blow, but it makes my point.
There are moments when I miss Ramon and others when I'm really happy he's not here. Like last Saturday when we went out for an all-out drinking rampage. Never mind that I had the dinner ruined with somek - I love somek, but a shot of soju in a glass of beer, not a shot of beer in a huge glass of soju. It tastes awful. It also didn't matter that I had to endure hours in a freezing nore bang (singing room). My moment was when in the bar the waitress (a pretty one, mind me) brought us a round of beers on the house - just because I'm so damn handsome. Her words! Finally it was NOT Ramon the handsome one. Take this!