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Here the author shared a story about yodeling in Korea – Yodeling in Korea

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One Response to “Stories”
  1. doug stuber says:

    Goings On About Town: November

    There has been music and art aplenty this month, for me it started with La Bohème on Saturday November 6th. The main hall at the Culture and Arts Center (ACC) was more full than usual as six Korean opera stars, who have all seen plenty of stage time in Europe, filled the air with Puccini’s masterpiece. The story flows from a successful deceit of a landlord by impoverished bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1830s. They use the rent money to party, and, before he can get out the door, Rodolfo is descended upon by a neighboring woman, Mimi, who first needs a light for a candle, then loses her key. Rodolfo finds the key, pretends he hasn’t found it, in an attempt to spend more time with the neighbor whom he falls in love with quite quickly. He wants to stay in with her right away, but they are persuaded to go out, and the story develops with Mimi’s flirtatious ways always a bother to Rodolfo. He should have known she was a forward lady with the way they met eh?

    But their difficult relationship adds to Mimi’s health problems, and in the end, when she is dying the two reunite just in time to sing her into another life. The world première performance of La Bohème took place in Turin on 1 February 1896, and it was an instant success ( and is the most-performed international opera.

    The singers and orchestra were mostly in synch for the Gwangju performance, and, for those wondering if our fantastic conductor had singing talents, it sounded like conductor Ku Cha Boem was a deep baritone when he turned to give Mimi directions in Act Three. Keenly aware of the singers’ phrasing, and vocal strengths, Ku was at home in the opera setting.

    On the 17th The Kumho Art Hall in U-Square welcomed a piano recital by the young, talented and disarmingly pretty Son Yeol-Eum who also proved historically aware as she preformed pieces by Schumann and Chopin, both born 200 years ago. Also knowledgeable about late arriving patrons, Son took a bow and returned to the wings after a solid rendition of Schumann’s Arabesque (C Major, Opus 18) thus allowing people to flow into seats. She then turned the composer’s Fantasy in C Major, Opus 17, into a piece a touch more abstract than its score would suggest. It’s an unusual piece of music anyway, as the key changes into E Flat, B Flat, sometimes F Major and back to C, but I couldn’t find large periods of silence (hole note rests, or two measures worth of hole note rests) at which means that, even though in her good moments Son was excellent, when she got hung-up she wasn’t able to muster the poise to improvise her way back into the intended music. To be fair, not many could. Enter Korean culture to the rescue. Instead of sitting silent, (as might have happened in Berlin or Leipzig) the crowd gave her a rousing applause. Courageously, perhaps inspired by the cheers, she went straight into Chopin, rather than intermission, as the program suggested.

    She wasn’t taking his easy ones either, and Ballade Number 2 (F Major, Opus 38) turned out fine. After the intermission she stepped up to the most challenging Chopin Sonata number 3 (B Minor, Opus 58) and expressed both the subtlety of the third Largo movement surrounded by the frenetic pace in the Scherzo second and Presto fourth movements. The full-keyboard arpeggios that end the Sonata are a musical, mental and even physical challenge, but she conquered the hiccups earlier in the night, and offered up two encores to an awe-struck crowd that simply wouldn’t stop clapping.

    Last night, at Kunsthalle, the large art installation that is introducing the soon-to-be completed Asian Cultural Center area as an gallery area, not just a traffic circle anymore, and which looks like 10 or 12 hollowed-out long-distance shipping containers, introduced four young Gwangju artists for its second exhibit. Although ETOY was a hard act to follow, Lee Joheum, Hong Wonchul, Jang Wonseok and Kim Myoungwoo. Lee, who did double-duty as a plastic-masked DJ, made the most memorable work, continuing his series of how he relates to the world. Better put, how he doesn’t relate to the world. Often putting himself into scenes dominated by rows of well known or lesser comic characters, his photo realist head turned away from us, while happy repetitive cartoons seem to represent the face he gives the world. To me there is a lot of anguish in these works, not by what is visible, but by the distance between the real world and the cartoon, and from the artist to his audience. The mask, which had been adapted to Lee could see better, with an oval cut-out, added to the questions any of the 100 visitors may have had, since, by never taking it off, he remained at least one step further away from potential human contact. His song selection and DJ abilities were not hampered by aloofness, though the older members of the opening shindig filtered out after touring the art.

    Hong, on the other hand comes straight at us with contorted faces that are reacting to the telephone chord existence their minds are bent by. “Information stress” is caused, if I am getting his ideas correctly, by many different ways to communicate, OTHER than face-to-face. Thus humans have a load of information, plenty of people to share it with, and less time to hang out with each other, due to computers and other gadgets beckoning us away. Also in the information overkill category is a crafty installation by Kim Myoungwoo which is hidden at the shorter-wall at the end. The room has shiny silver walls with three “Ws” illuminated from below, and out-of-focus letters streaming by on the ceiling. The clear acrylic letters were lit in green as a projector hidden in the pedestal created the moving art above.

    Jang Wonseok also comes straight at the issue of “looks” and “lookism” in Korea, a place that is more concerned with how other people LOOK than Hollywood. This also becomes a narcissistic trap as people then become obsessed with their own looks. His round faces are distorted, like the mirror in the funny-hall at the carnival would do, to the point that we have no idea whether the original face being presented is pretty or not. It’s hard to believe a culture so rooted in Confucianism, Buddhism and now Christianity could be swamped by a wave of beauty obsession. University students believe they can not succeed unless they look perfect. They also have a tendency to create groups based on perceived sameness of “the level of looks,’ which can happen anywhere, but seems shallow, in a U.S. type of way that manages to ignore real human values, thus steps away from tradition and squarely into western culture.

    On the first trip around the art, I though Jang’s works were too “not pretty” to be interesting. Upon a second and third viewing I was drawn to how much they say about the world collapsing into a single-culture reality….and it’s not the culture of philosophy, spirituality, tenderness, kindness, compassion or even creativity, but the one of KPOP, Plastic Surgery, and 1,000 applicants for every one job, with a long line of interviewees, the winner of which is, (TADA!)
    often the prettiest candidate. Hence bouffant hairdos on the men, and high heals, make up and overspending on fashion on the girls….not just at job interviews, but even when they are hanging around campus.

    The net effect of the four artists is a warning that maybe we’ve spent too much time away form one another, and maybe the prurient interests have gotten in the way of all others, and maybe it’s time to sit around the table, pull up a beer and enjoy each other’s company more, and compute and attempt to out-dress each other a little less.

    A competition to find a creative way to reinvent the 218 meters of fencing that surrounds the ACC dig site was announced by Kunsthalle’s Thomas. It is open to any idea from a Gwangju resident, with details searchable at .

    Also the next four Fridays, starting November 24, at 7pm will be: A Movie Night, screening “Comrades in Dreams” about movie making and makers.

    On December 3, at 7pm and OPEN TALK with the four artists whose work will still be up and cultural leaders Byun Glhyun (curator, Gwangju Museum of Art), Cho Seungki (director, Artspace Mite) and Chang Sukwon (professor, Chonnam National University)

    On December 10, 8pm, “BYO” night, meaning bring food and drinks or anything else to liven up the party. The DJ is hosted by the Kunsthalle, the rest of the hosts are YOU. Bring out your whole neighborhood or class or workmates or studio building.

    On December 18th, (note that’s a Saturday not Friday) A FLEA MARKET at 5pm. The magazine BLING and Kunsthalle invite the community to bring out special items for SALE and show them off at this event. Fill a booth by contacting either or and see how your creations fly in the real world.

    Finally, in an email form my step-mother, came this “Sonataneous Act of Culture” form Philadelphia. I’m not religious in the slightest, but this is the type of interruption of a “business as usual” day that should happen more often. It’s why

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