Thursday, May 16, 2019

Some Art, and my 세탁

My building is called "B One" or sometimes B1 or sometimes in hangeul 비원. Biwon is also the "secret garden" of the emperor located in Changdeokgung, which I blogged about here, ages ago--and got the pinyin wrong: Anyway ...

My building does not have a professional cleaner, or 세탁, so I have to go to the large apatuh across the street, BoBo County (where Helen used to live), since they don't do delivery--a bit odd, frankly, considering as a colleague told me in Teachers English Club recently that Korea is internationally admired for the delivery service culture. This is all straight up true, but not really the point of my story.

But before I come to that … the conversation about delivery service came about because another teacher in the group kindly ordered everyone a drink from a local coffee shop--I got a blueberry smoothie--and it all arrived about fifteen minutes later, with no delivery fee. Our English Club is small but awesome!


After school, I took some clothes to be cleaned at the aforementioned 세탁 today in BoBo County (no association with Korea's palaces that I know of), and while waiting for the elevator, I observed, as I have many times before, two minimalist art works in what passes for the BoBo lobby. In fact, my first few times, I thought they were bulletin boards that just didn't have any bulletins on them. That's how minimalist they are. As you can see below:

Over the past year or so, I have started to wonder about them, how they came to be there, is Jürgen Wegner a well-known artist I should have known about, etc. So, today, I snapped these shots, and then spent a solid twenty minutes to a half-hour applying my google-fu to the question. And came away with minimal information. For example, the yellow one above is "untitled (yellow)".

On the plus side, you can purchase some of his works, mostly as serigraphs, from sites like and On the minus side, his dates are 1941 to 1998, so he has passed. had the following brief bio:
Jürgen Wegner is a German Postwar & Contemporary artist. Their work was featured in an exhibition at the Daimler Contemporary. Jürgen Wegner's work has been offered at auction multiple times. Only one artwork sold; this was Tonnara, which realized $159 USD at Henry's Auction House in 2015.

And from that I learned that he at least was shown at the Daimler Contemporary, in Berlin (from
The Daimler art collection came into being in 1977. Since then, the collection has expanded to include 1,500 works by roughly 400 national and international artists. The works were initially on display exclusively within the company, but in 1999 they acquired a new 600 square-metre exhibition space in the renovated Haus Huth at Potsdamer Platz. A series of thematically structured exhibitions focusing on the collection as well as on new acquisitions are shown four times a year. There are also artists' discussions, theme tours and concerts.
In terms of its overall theme, the collection represents important developments in the art and pictorial ideas of the 20th century right up to the present, with a special focus on the abstract tendencies of this era. The collection contains important works from the Bauhaus movement, constructive and concrete art, informal painting, Zero and Minimalism as well as multimedia concepts and video art.

I'd like to have more information, or at least a good tagline for this post, but I don't. If you can help with either, please comment below.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Seoul Botanic Garden

I saw this advert on the subway a few days ago, and noticing it was quite near me--four or five stops away on line 9 here in Gangseo-gu--I wondered why I had never heard of it before.

Now, I know, it just opened. Today was a glorious day for hitting a botanic(al) garden, so hit it I did. I only went as far as the conservatory, but there is a huge expanse beyond that. I'll go back later this year, as quite a lot of it has hardly grown in. You approach through a mezzanine from the subway and explode into a wide vista unusual for the overgrown city of Seoul:

Some views approaching the conservatory:

The inside is pretty well organized by habitats, and has a cool overhead walkway.

There are several stall scattered around with some educational info about various topics, including coffee and poppies:

And, of course, the flowers:

Finally, a couple of shots from the gift shop, and a view across the lake as I made my way back to the subway. Bring your own water, as the prices are ridiculous--and now that the place is officially open, adult admission is 5,000 W.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Sports Day 2019

Today was characterized by perfect early May weather, mild with clear blue skies, just right for Sports Day. At this school, grades only compete against themselves, and the sixth grade has five classes. There were three events: sprints, in heats; an interminable relay race wherein everyone ran about twenty times; and Korean dodgeball, where catching a thrown ball doesn't put the thrower out!

I complimented this one girl on her top-knot and she said it was 똥, ddong, a Korean word meaning, um, dung. Naturally, I pulled up my camera to get a picture, and within about eight seconds, this happened:

Sports Day usually involves a special festive meal, and the menu promised "Washington hot dog"--no, I've never heard of it either. Turns out, chili dog, and not as bad as it looks. And the cream broccoli soup was particularly good, if incongruous.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Heroes vs Tigers, Baseball in Seoul

I've been to a half-dozen FC Seoul games this spring, and finally made it a baseball game on Friday night, along with friend Adam and new friend Ian. This is the Heroes third season in Gocheok Sky Dome and their first season under the corporate sponsorship of Kiwoom, a financial services company. Most Korean baseball teams are outright owned by company, such as Hanhwa Eagles or Samsung Lions, but the heroes are owned by a syndicate which sells the naming rights (though they remain Heroes). This game was against the KIA Tigers, from Gwangju, who are the most successful franchise with 11 titles.

The closest subway stop is Guil station on line 1, exit 2, but the pre- and post-game action is on the other side of the stadium, which in the last year has started to lay claim to the baseball fans:

This is where you'll find the hofs and restaurants.

The game was a barn-burner, with a final score putting the Heroes up 8 to 4, with an epic fifth inning of five runs capped by that most exciting of things in baseball, a slider at home called safe!

But not all the action is on the field at a Korean baseball game! The fans truly deserve the moniker "fanatics" and they are led by actual cheerleaders.

The Heroes mascot is 턱돌이, Mr. Stone Jaw, who is by turns funny and formidable. Here is a picture from last night, and below it one from around 2015 when they were still in Mok-dong stadium. I am wearing a rare Heroes "h" cap, only available back when they were between sponsors and known as the "Seoul Heroes". The only other head you ever see one on is 턱돌이's.

Heroes win!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Tuttle Roundup

Life here in the Land of the Morning Calm continues apace.

A couple Fridays ago I was roped into being a judge for the Annual Fifth Grade K-Pop Dance Battle. I tried to beg off, but the teacher in charge (my first coT when I came to this school, so I felt I kind of owed her) assured me it was not big deal. This, it turned out, was a bald-faced lie, as the winning teams got a fried chicken party! Not a big deal, my shiny white butt! Anyway, I know what you want--pictures:

I'm not going to complain too much, though, as the judges got to have a fried chicken party, too.

On the chilly, drizzly Sunday following, I went to the Seoul Museum of Art, which is behind Deoksugung in the city center, and popped 15K for the David Hockney exhibition, which is the first major installation of his work in Asia.

That was the best shot I could get; they had a great photo-op replicating a life-size portrait he did of his parents, where guests would sit in chairs on opposite side of the table, but because of the weather, it--or at least the chairs--was unavailable:

EDIT: I found this ad in a subway station:

This Sunday (Easter) I went to the FC Seoul match at Sangam World Cup Stadium vs Incheon United. The less said about the scoreless game, the better, but they've added a couple of nice fan inducements: this terrific poster, and this cardboard hat which replicates the 도깨비 (goblin) mascot. At bottom is a new subway graphic of the stadium.

More subway shots:

Flowers I took in the last week: