Tuesday, October 14, 2014


For my last day in Seoul before I head into the middle of nowhere (truly!), I had an errand- and meeting-ful day, in the best of ways. I started at Seoul Selection, to buy a first-edition copy of my book. I talked to the clerk about ordering more books (they started with 50 and are down to 7), left book award stickers for the remainder, and got freebies and directions to Jogyesa, the huge temple in the middle of town. There it is, across the street.
I heard from my dyeing teacher that my hanji teacher's shop had moved across from Jogyesa, but of course they were closed, which I knew from the old days, as my teacher's wife commutes from afar. It was so bright that I didn't notice my finger was in the shot.
This shop that I always send people to when they want Wonju Hanji is still open! That's good, because the area has gotten so expensive that a lot of people have been forced to move away. I didn't check prices, though, so maybe they've raised them to make up for rent hikes. On the way to my dyeing teacher, I got a call from the Korean Craft and Design Foundation, which is hosting a hanji symposium in December that I will be part of. When I arrived, my teacher was quietly chopping eggplants to dry, and ushered me upstairs for omija tea.
I bought one of those hats for mom after having been gifted one during my first visit. There was a class in session that I rudely interrupted, but the students were fascinated by my book and shared their mint tea, mini rolls, and chestnuts. I was going to leave, but then they all rushed into the dyeing studio to start onion skin dyeing, and pushed me into an apron and slippers.
I hung back because I knew I'd otherwise be late, but I HAD to listen to the story that my teacher's wife (the one without long chopsticks) was telling about the clothing business they used to have and how they lost it. She told some other amazing stories about why my teacher is so good at "women's work" and she teared up talking about him, which made one student remark that she must really love him. She concurred. She also explained to me why they dye differently from the way they did when I was there (on gas ranges and with constant stirring)—she took a two-year dyeing course and learned a lot of new things. They were using long thermometers, stored with the long metal chopsticks in the foreground.

I tore myself away to rush to the subway, mortified that I was late, but luckily no one else was. I was SO HAPPY to see my Korean language teacher, and she walked me over to the most wonderful traditional Korean restaurant. There were so many small plates that they covered the entire table (which was big enough to seat four); some plates on both sides were too far for each of us to reach with an arm + chopstick length. It was so gratifying to give her my book and point out her name in the acknowledgments. She had excellent advice about my future, which I am taking to heart. Then, I had a quick meeting with a childhood friend, now a radiologist with two children. I loved being able to catch up like our last meeting was yesterday, not five years ago.

My final errand: shopping. Thank goodness for my aunt, who produced a couple bags big enough for me to pack for Bisugumi. After a check-in call from family friends, I think I'm ready!

*I'll be traveling on the eve of my birthday, too!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

happy, happy birthday. safe travels. :)