30 september 2002

Korea September 2002

Monday, September 30, 2002: AKARAKA!
Last weekend was a great one! On Friday and Saturday, we went to the Yon-Ko Festival. During this festival, Yonsei University and its rival Koryo University compete against each other in basketball, ice-hockey, baseball, rugby and football (Yonsei usually wins). They do this every year and it is called the most important event for any student in either university. I went to the baseball and football game together with the Mentors Club here at Yonsei. This association has a so-called Buddy Program, where international and regular Yonsei students meet each other.

The football game was held in the Olympic Stadium in Jamshil, which was filled with students wearing blue (Yonsei) and red (Koryo) shirts. After the football match we went back to Sinchon (many Yonsei students go out in this area for dinner or a drink since it is right in front of the main gate) to do a some kind of traditional scavenger hunt. During the whole evening we went to many restaurants to shout (Akaraka!) in order to get free food and drinks (which we got).

Monday, September 23, 2002
Yesterday I came back from celebrating Chu-seok, Korea's most important holiday. It is also called Harvest Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival; it is more or less the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving. I stayed with my Korean family for the whole weekend. They made a lot of food - I ate too much that weekend - pam-meok-o! During Chuseok it is a custom to visit graves of ancestors; to show respect.

On Saturday I had the privilige to do the traditional rituals together with my grandfather. You could argue that these rituals are the proof that Confucianism actually is a religion? I think when one really wants to understand East Asian cultures, perhaps you will want to read about Confucianism and Daoism.

Last week I had my first presentation and wrote my first paper for East Asian Civilization, about Sun Tzu's Art of War.
Unlike its title may suggest, it really is about conflict resolution/prevention. Sun Tzu's work is related to Daoism, which I think is very interesting.

Do I speak Korean already? Well - good enough to order food. Here in the International House we speak English all the time. Language exchange is one way to try to practice what you learn in class - and that is exactly what I am doing. So far going to Korea has been an interesting and rich experience. I would like to do it again in the future - I might even go to the US next time?