Friday, May 29, 2009

Intense

Yesterday was weaving, ALL day. I never left home and now my hands are numb, but I got all my homework done, plus a bunch of extra things I had had on my mind. I was sad about this little cup b/c I had inadvertently added ONE extra cord, which threw the whole thing off. A shame.

Today I left early for dyeing in case traffic would be bad b/c of funeral day for former prez Roh Moo-Hyun. It was actually quite light, but the scene on the way to class was stunning. HUGE crowds, and then about 3-4x that amount of police. That quantity of men in uniform is nothing short of beautiful, no matter the meanings and connotations. We didn't do anything in class but watch TV and cry. This single event and its repercussions have taught me again how different this culture and the one I am going back to are. I had the same reaction as my parents, who have shifted to a very American viewpoint after living there for so long. But it's been incredible and enlightening to see how reactions here have unfolded here. Granted, there is a history that I am well unaware of. But attitudes towards suicide, dignity, responsibility of heads of state, gender roles, and mourning are obvious. And compelling.

One thing I love about Korea, which sometimes can seem over the top or incomprehensible to outsiders, is collective, public suffering. The grieving today, and prior, has been impressive not just in its intensity, but in its shared size - seas of people standing in the heat and sun, weeping and wailing and singing and yelling. The funeral today involved rites of three religions and afterwards continued in more traditional and shamanistic rites. Traditional funeral culture here has nearly died, but isn't entirely gone b/c it serves such an important role in the grieving process. I love that it's perfectly okay to sit in a room watching TV with people, at one moment cracking jokes and at the next crying audibly with tears running down our faces. No judgment, no weirdness about true expression of the immediate emotion. I love that grieving has not been completely contained here.

Everyone else ran off to Seoul Station to join the crowds, but I just couldn't do it. I stayed and dyed a couple of onion skin scarves, wove until I couldn't keep my eyes open or hands moving, and then headed home on quieter-than-usual roads.

1 comment:

thanks for visiting!