Walking down the narrow streets of the hilly neighborhood, one can see brilliantly colored murals covering the walls and even staircases. One flight of stairs is covered in vibrant gold fish; another has become a floral mosaic. Several walls feature wings to encourage passersby to take a photo. These are just a few of the artworks in Seoul's famous Ihwa Mural Village.
Ihwa Mural Village began as an effort by 68 different artists to transform an older neighborhood (Korea Toursim). The village was actually part of a major trend in Korea to beautify slums, many of which sprang up in the 1950s to house refugees from the Korean War (Lonely Planet). These villages are all over Korea - even in small towns and farming villages. Ihwa Mural Village in Seoul, Jaman Village in Jeonju, and Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan are among the most famous. Today, these villages have become popular tourist sites, usually after appearing in TV dramas.
In art class, our middle school students have been working on a project to create a mural for the school. As part of their research, the art teacher arranged for a field trip to Ihwa Mural Village. I also chaperoned the trip. There, the students made observations about the different methods used in the murals. Then, in their writing class with me, they wrote about their favorite artwork in the village.
Fall has finally arrived in Korea! I've been enjoying the past week as the leaves have changed colors from green to red, yellow, and brown. This time of year, the parks and hiking trails around the country are full of people going out to see the fall leaves. So, naturally, I did the same -- only I stayed right around my neighborhood. Here are the gorgeous results!
Halloween: a night full of costumes and, often, wild parties - at least in America. Here in Korea, where Halloween is not a traditional holiday, things are different. Outside of major metropolitan areas, the night is like any other, but inside the big cities, and especially in Seoul, the parties abound and in several bar districts people clad in cat suits, Captain America costumes, and more, can easily be seen. This year was certainly no different. Though, I have no crazy stories to tell because I did not engage in such festivities. Instead, I joined a small group in performing at SwingPop's Halloween party.
Here in Seoul, there are many places for swing dancing. In fact, if you wanted, you could find a social dance on any night of the week! I chose SwingPop mostly because it's very close to my home. I've had a great time the past few months, but with the way things are progressing at school, I have a feeling it will be difficult for me to come consistently for a while.
Today was a special day at school. Given that tomorrow is Halloween and that GIS follows an American curriculum, our student council decided to have a candy gram fundraiser, trick-or-treating for the elementary students, and a costume contest. Thus, students were full of sugar-induced energy, and sporting all manners of costumes. Even the teachers were asked to wear costumes today. I didn't find out until too late that those teachers not wearing costumes would be forced to dance in front of the students.... How embarrassing!
Some highlights: one student's creative jellyfish costume, and a series of animal suits worn by some of our fellow teachers. Oh, and candy. Lots and lots of candy.
different types of kimchi, some of which do not have cabbage). Some form of kimchi appears at every meal, so its a very important side dish. In fact, kimchi is such a staple that pizza is served with pickles here. Every fall, families get together to make kimchi for the winter months, so today's volunteering was a reflection of this cultural tradition.
The kimchi making day was hosted by a particular company and was actually filmed by several different broadcasting companies, which was rather unfortunate. However, the students enjoyed the trip (and sneaking bites of fresh kimchi), and it seemed many students grew closer to each other, which is something that is needed at our school.
As a secondary English and foreign language educator, Katherine has spent the past 5 years teaching in South Korea. She is an enthusiastic educator who believes in the potential of every student, and strives to make an interactive, engaging learning environment to promote inquiry and learning.
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