I would like to say that I get along with my British friends because I am able to contain my enthusiasm for certain in the way that British people express themselves. Americans are quite known for being passionate, enthusiastic, etc. I like to think I’m not easily impressed or enthused by things. I do get excited, though much of the time I feign it to get reactions. I remember growing up, my mother would cook a meal and ask the family how it was. My brother and sister would always say “Oh, it’s great, Mom!”, though later confiding that Mom really can’t cook well. But they were very encouraging. I, on the other hand, would be the less enthusiastic one and remark, “Eh, it’s not bad~”, much to my mother’s dismay. Understandably so.
Performances in Insa-dong
When I went to see my favorite Korean band in concert, while everyone was screaming and chanting, dancing along, I merely stood there and bobbed my head lightly, singing along as well. I’m not much of the fan girl type. I would think my British friends would approve. They always jest that their wedding vows would be along the lines of, “Dear wife, you’re not that bad. I guess I can live with you for a bit. Just make sure the tea is warm when we get home.” I know they are just joking but that’s the English personality. Scottish, a little bit different. But English is quite like this.
So today I was on my way back home after getting a few things for the house and then lunch/dinner. I bought it for take-out so I could come home and watch TV while eating it. I was out until about 5:30 this morning with my British friends so I just felt like relaxing today. Nothing too crazy. I even cancelled my plans to go visit a friend and his fiancé as a result. I really cannot stay up all night. I get grouchy, tired, my stomach hurts, I get nausea, etc. I am just a pain in the ass. I give them a lot of credit for sticking it out with me.
Anyway, that’s beside the point. So, I was on my home and I noticed a performance going on right in front of my apartment building. That always happens because it’s Insadong, the commercially traditional part of Seoul. They always have these performances on the weekends for the foreigners here. I always say that I dislike Insadong because it feels so fake. It’s like a giant, living museum of old Korea with way too many souvenir shops. The name Insa-dong, means “Greeting Area”. It’s a bit obnoxious as a foreigner who lives here because I’m automatically assumed to be a tourist or a Russian Karaoke Room worker. Yeehaw.
So I decided to stop by and see what it was. To my luck, it wasn’t just the normal Sameulnori group (traditional farm music celebration group) that usually plays, it was another drumming group. Many people are familiar with Taiko (Daiko) drumming from Japan. This was similar. They play the drums frequently used in Sameulnori and they set it up on a stage on the floor. You have to sit and play it. I really love Percussion-based performances, such as Nanta or Taiko, due to the energy they bring. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed being apart of my high school’s drumlins group and did front line percussion. You cannot believe the rush it gives you to play in one of those groups.
So, I thought it would just be another boring group. But they were amazing! I don’t know how to explain it. They were just so into it. I can’t even describe it. It was so amazing, I found myself crying. Just tearing up and running down my cheek. It was odd. It was like, tears of happiness. I’ve never really experienced that before. What made it more lovely was looking at the crowd. Most people weren’t really foreigners. They were Koreans. Especially older Koreans. This area is filled with older Koreans. And I saw these two men dancing to the music. Yes, they were a bit off, mentally. But they were dancing to the music in that old, traditional style you might see at a Pansori (Korean traditional folk storytelling music) that accompanies it. And I realized that the music isn’t just for the foreigners, but it’s for the Koreans too, primarily the older generation. It gives them a way to remember they old days, their youth. Back in the 50s or 60s when Korea was still a poorer country and these were more common place. It gives me a release that you just don’t see everyday. I just loved the atmosphere. I loved the performance for so many things.
It made me appreciate the area and the performances they do there. Sure, it’s artificial in nature, but I think it does some good. I think I can lessen my hate of this are for it. I just wish it wasn’t so commercial, with all the souvenir stores and makeup stores polluting the area. I like the local artists, the painters there. I just don’t like these stores.
I’m glad I got to see this performance today. I have this energy in me to restart music and restart mallets again. I just wish it was easier to do so.