Gyenongbok Palace: Pictures don’t do justice to this massive building. The changing of the guard is a serious procession complete with whipping flag routine, air slicing curved knives on sticks and whopping drums.
As I stand watching this ancient, powerful routine I feel cheated that my education was so Euro-centric. Why weren’t these images ever in my social studies text? Why don’t I know more about the Korean culture? These are some pretty wicked looking swords on sticks and how about that drum that takes both arms of a very strong man to play?
This place whispers of palace intrigue that surely would have been equal to the knights of the round table. And I know there are plenty of Korean Americans (I don’t have numbers, but PLENTY). Why wasn’t this in my social studies text? I grab brochures as we walk along and study the guidebook at night feeling like there is so much catching up I need to do. I remember cutting out wooden shoes and making flags of all the countries in Europe, but Korea was just part of a giant pink blob called Asia on my classroom scroll down Denoyer Geppert map. Never we were taught any distinguishing characteristics of the different cultures of Asia.
And how about this guy. He is the stuff of fantastic fantasies — a made up creature who looks to be part cat and part reptile. He could have been lurking in the dark corners of the room protecting me from the dragons in the closet if I’d only known that he existed (fictionally speaking).
Thanks to Chris for carting us around town, trains and buses and coffee shops. Oh, and one knitting/fabric store. We only had time to visit 2 of the seven stories of this place that make Joanne Fabrics look like the Easy Bake Oven of yarn, fabric and sewing supplies. Thanks to all of the teachers at SIS for making us feel welcome.