Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Journey to The Far East - Shabu-shabu and The Korean Hall of Independance

Tom and I taught our first English lesson this week which wasn't really much of a lesson. We played hangman with our students and a few other games that we had fished from the internet. After spending an hour at Yeso Nursery on Thursday afternoon, Tom and I returned to our apartment at the top of the church and did a bit of preparation for the teaching on Sunday.

Dinner with Mrs Kim - Friday 21st
On Friday evening we were taken out to dinner by one of the church members; Mrs Kim. We met Mrs Kim and her daughter at five o'clock at a modern restaurant inside one of the shopping malls in Cheonan.
After being introduced and learning a little about each other, we were seated and served Shabu-shabu. Shabu-shabu is a type of meal that involves cooking very thinly sliced beef in boiling broth. The tables had electric stoves built into them that heated the broth in stainless-steel bowls/woks and once it reached boiling point we added a selection of vegetables including several types of mushrooms that I hadn't eaten before. Once all the veg had been boiling a while, we added the beef slices.
Along with the Shabu-shabu we were given rice paper and a selection of grated veg with three different sauces; I believe it's called Bulgogi. The idea is that you dip the rice paper into water to soften it, lay it on your plate and apply veg, add sauce, and then make it into a kind-of wrap. I documented the process that was initially demonstrated superbly by Jacob but didn't get a photo of the bright pink water that we were given to soak our rice paper in.

After this delicious dinner we went for ice-cream together. Mrs Kim told us that she'd been part of the church for several years and had known Jacob's wife (Beth) for some time and watched her grow up. Mrs Kim's daughter (I'm not great with names) enjoys performance art and is hoping to study singing (or music?) for the next few years. Her entry exam is in September and we're praying that she does well if it's God's will.
Mrs Kim shared a little about herself and her walk with God. She told us that she was prompted by the Spirit of God to bless the missionaries that are coming to serve in Cheonan and so in response to this she blessed us by taking Jacob, Tom and I out for a meal and ice-cream. Among the many other blessings from the wonderful people here, this is one that really touched me.

Jacob, myself, Tom, Mrs Kim and her daughter
The Korean Hall of Independence - Saturday 22nd
On Saturday we visited the Korean Hall of Independence together with Jacob & Beth, Mr Lee and the students from the Christian school. It was fun to hang out with the students outside of lesson time.
The approach to the Korean Hall of Independence is quite a sight and the Monument to the Nation stands in the centre of the promenade. The Monument to the Nation was designed to "evoke an image of the wings of a bird soaring in the sky, or the human hands in eager prayer", it "symbolizes the indomitable Korean spirit throughout history and the strong resolve of the Korean people for independence, liberty, unification and prosperity."
The Monument to the Nation
On the approach to the hall of independence there are a series of boards with information about the Dokdo islands and evidence that backs up Korea's claims that the islands are part of their nation. Korea certainly has no plans to release the islands to the Japanese: "Dokdo has long been the territory of Korea and is in full possession by the nation. Therefore, Dokdo will definitely remain in Korean hands". After we passed the Dokdo info boards and a large number of South Korean flags we reached a bridge that crossed a pond/river; I didn't make enough of an observation to decide which it was but that water appeared to be fairly still apart from in the areas with all the fish!
These fish were going crazy for the food we were throwing to them. After spending some time observing the fish we reached the Hall of Independence itself. It's a large structure mostly made out of some sort of stone or granite (I'm speculating here), inside is a large carved statue of group of people united together. I didn't get a photo of the statue but you can easily find it through Google.
The Korean hall of Independence
Jacob and Beth in-front of the hall :)

Before reaching the hall, Mr Lee had told me the name of the South Korea flag; Taegeukgi. I think 'Taegeuk' is the name for the yin-yang in the centre of the flag. Once we were inside the hall, Jacob explained the meaning of the Taegeukgi to us. White is a traditional colour of the Korean people and represents purity, the brightness and the peace-loving characteristic of the people. The red and blue Taegeuk in the centre of the flag stands for the perfect harmony between yin and yang and "symbolizes the truth of nature in which the universe was created and developed". The four Gwae that surround the yin-yang show the mutual change and progress of the yin and yang. Each Gwae represents a different element; sky, land, water, and fire. When Jacob described their additional meanings, it seemed to me like they represent seasons as well.

The Korean Hall of Independence has the largest museum in South Korea that consists of seven buildings that focuses on the independence movement of the Japanese colonial period. The first building, The Hall of National Heritage, covers from prehistoric times to the Joseon Dynasty but the rest of the buildings are dedicated to the independence movement.

We went through five of the seven halls because we were tight for time but what we saw in those five halls grew our love for the people of Korea and the nation. Korea's history is sad but also inspirational and we can see God's work here despite the hardship.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Benj, we are continuing to enjoy reading your informative blog. Korea sounds fascinating. Both Sue and Tanya are following with interest.