Friday, May 24, 2019

소화기 and the Heat

Many of the valued visitors to my Patch of Seoul have noticed that the quantity of my blogs has decreased over the last few years, but of course, not the quality. My usual answer has been that I have said most everything I have to say about living in Korea. And that's kind of true--many posts these days share my various travels abroad, or the occasional new experience, like the opening of the new Seoul Botanic Garden as recorded below.

However, a look at the early days of this blog reveal that in addition to the big issues--sports, politics, Korean education, Konglish tee-shirt slogans, good stuff to eat--Tuttle would also delve into the minutiae: weather, the existence of God, even new shoes! It is often in such a granular way that the greatest of truths is revealed.

In that light, the delivery this evening to my apatuh of my own brand new(ish) 소화기 certainly deserves mention:


소화기 so hwa gi is obviously the Korean for fire extinguisher, and it suddenly strikes me I have lived here for two years plus without one, if one is needed. I have to say there are six overhead sprinklers, but a little hand tank can't hurt--even if it doesn't have the customary tag showing the last time it was serviced. On the plus side, just inside the front door, you can't miss it.

The weather so far this spring has been mild, or at least, it had been until today. The mercury topped 30 C for the first time: 31 C according to my app. So I guess the fire extinguisher serves as a metaphor for the heat. But the aircon does a better job at keeping the place cool.

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: https://seoulpatch.blogspot.com/2008/11/art-in-insa-dong.html. 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!

Okay.

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 allposters.com and art.com. On the minus side, his dates are 1941 to 1998, so he has passed. Mutualart.com 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 museumsportal-berlin.de):
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.