Monday, June 18, 2012

Settling Into the Fast-Paced Seoul Lifestyle

View from 삼성산  (Samseungsan)

Part of an ongoing series about my trip to and discovery of Seoul...

It's nearly been two weeks since I've arrived and I'm amazed at how much I've done despite my hectic schedule, I guess it just comes down to the city's notorious work hard/play hard culture. I only have a little over 20hrs of teaching hours from Monday to Friday but throw in my writing duties for MKC, Twitch and VCinema, as well as exercise and learning Korea and my day goes from 7am to 11pm, with meals kept very short. After 11 I can finally take some time for myself, which usually means watching a Korean film (or part of one), but that almost falls into the work category as well. Sleep comes over me at around 1am and after 6hrs rest it starts all over again.

Now I am certainly not complaining, I'm busy but I am also focussed and glad that I know exactly what I'm doing. For the first time in a while I feel like the master of my own destiny and the fact that most of my workload is voluntary is a testament to that fact. That said, while I did some work over the weekend, I also took the opportunity to discover Seoul some more, catch my first new Korean film in theaters and, best of all, to meet friends old and new!

More DVDs! Characters (2011), Bloodline (1963) and Unbowed (2012)

First though I visited immigration on Friday morning and got everything sorted out. I will be receiving my ARC (Alien Registration Card) on July 3rd and I will then be able to open my bank account and to get onto a new phone contract. When I was living in California I was an iPhone man but I think I'm going to make a switch and after seeing so many of them around I've decided that I will get the Samsung Galaxy Note, primarily because of its enormous screen, so that I can keep watching films on the go during those long subway rides. Granted I won't be using this platform to view important new films, rather I'll be watching those that appear further down my watch queue.

On Friday night, after mistakenly going the wrong way on Line 2, I met my friend Matt a little later than planned in Gangnam. I hadn't seen Matt in 4 years, since we worked on the Obama campaign in Southeastern Ohio, and it was great to see him again and I'm very glad to have a good friend like this in town. I was also thrilled to finally check out Gangnam, one the neighborhoods of Seoul that is most prominently featured in the movies. After a long chat I took a cab back to Gwangmyeong and I was pleasantly surprised to only have to part with w15,000 ($13) after a 35-minute fare, during which I fell asleep. However, I was extremely surprised to find that when I woke up, it was 5am and daylight!

Nightview of my neighborhood

Saturday I was ready to take in my first local release at a CGV, so I headed to Guro and bought my ticket for Hong Sang-soo's In Another Country, which only last month was vying in Cannes' main competition. There were no subtitles but I knew that a significant portion of the film was in English and true enough only about 30% was Korean but I was surprised at how much I actually understood. Later this month I plan to feature a review of the film but I can say that I found it to be marvelous though a little different from his previous work.

Afterwards I did some exploring around the Gasan Digital Complex, which was a bit of a modern ghost town. After taking a few pictures I walked over the 안양촌 (Anyangcheon) river and made my way back to Cheolsan (my local subway stop) where I met Rex Baylon for dinner. I had never met Rex before, who also teaches English East of Seoul, but we both write for VCinema. We grabbed some Korean BBQ in a place that is quickly becoming a favorite, particularly because of their excellent 반찬 (banchan), which includes stone bowls of scrambled egg and kimchi soup in addition to the usual dishes. Rex and I had a nice long discussion about Korea and Korean film and I look forward to more of the same in the near future!

Crossing the 안양촌 (Anyangcheon) river (also where I go running)

After dinner I went home and following a little more work I finished a film I'd started earlier in the week. Finally went to bed at 2:30am and was up by 7am, more work to do and then I went out to Seocho to walk around before meeting up with Matt and his girlfriend (but not before another subway mixup involving two stops with the same name) to go hike 삼성산 (Samseoungsan). It was a great day for a hike on a beautiful trail and I was amazed at how isolated from the city the area was.

Last but not least I forayed into the Cheolsan night for my first 노래방 (karaoke) with my co-teachers. Had a good time, sang the very few songs I knew the words to (Bohemian Rhapsody). Had a good time and after typing up the week's box office report, finally hit the hay at 4am.

Well that's it for this week, can't wait to see what the next has in store!


On the 삼성산  (Samseungsan) trail

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you've been busy. Hopefully we'll get a chance to meet up before I leave for vacation on July 5th. Glad you're enjoying your time here. Marc