The trip to Jeonju started at the ungodly hour of 7:45 am. Or rather, that was when we were supposed to meet in the lobby with ourselves and our overnight bags so that we could board the buses and head out. The ride itself took about 3 hours, and we had a pit stop at a resting place with delicious food stands. We also got to see what I called fields of marshmallows before arriving in Jeonju. Once there, we had a stone bibimbap lunch before splitting into groups and learning about mask dancing and traditional Korean drumming.
Our group started with the traditional drumming. The drum that we learned how to play is called the 장구 (jang-gu), it is an hourglass shaped drum and we learned how to tighten the strings (pull the leather across the drum) and how to hold and play the instrument using the two different types of sticks. The method of holding the sticks is different than how you would hold your typical drum stick. Instead you hold it with then end by your thumb, and you grip bwtween your ring and pinkie finger (see image). It was a lot of fun learning different rhythms and how the musicians would tell how to hit the drum based of certain sounds made. For example, if they said “tong” you hit both sides at the same time.
After learning different rhythms on the drums, we got to learn about mask dancing. Mask dancing tells a story through the dancing, so we got to learn some of the moves that are commonly performed. It was a lot of fun learning how to do the dances and it actually requires quite a bit of energy. The teacher we had made it more fun and entertaining so that was also super helpful, though I couldn’t seem to stop laughing. We also learned a bit of the traditional lion dance and practiced a little a both to the music of the 장구.
After that, we visited a Confucian temple and and got a small tour of parts of Jeonju. There was a famous Catholic church and palace in the area that we could go visit on our own time. Then it was to the hotel. This hotel was special because it was traditional style. This meant that we slept on futons on heated floors and had to put out our own bedding and everything. It was definitely a novel experience and breakfast the next morning was on the small table with everyone kneeling around it.
That night was free time, and with a small stipend for dinner, we headed out. My friends and I found a little place with a nice ahjumma (officially meaning aunt, it often refers to an older lady who you might not know). All we knew was that we wanted bulgogi (marinated beef, usually grilled) so we were trying to find some place that had that. She ushered us into the restaurant and sat us down at the table. Then everyone got their bulgogi, but this was bulgogi lettuce wraps (I forgot the Korean name) and so she thought we didn’t know how to eat it. She squatted near the end of our table and made one for Paige, before trying to feed it to her. After Paige ate it, the ahjumma laughed and slapped her butt before smiling at the rest of us, gesturing for us to eat and leaving. Dinner was super awesome, service is something that we don’t see often in the U.S. but is common here. We received 3 drinks and extra bowls of rice on the house. Afterwards, we stopped by next door for some churros. Or at least, everyone else did.
Since I’m taking Engineering Seminar back at Mudd, I have two options for completing the course: I could either a) watch the videos from home and write the 2 paper required for each missed seminar and email it back with 2 weeks of the video being posted, or I could b) find 4 seminars in Korea that are related to engineering and are in English, then also write a 2 page paper summary and opinion with the flyer attached. While the second option had fewer seminars, I felt like the difficulty of finding the seminars to attend would be too frustrating so I opted for the first.
However, with this last video, I didn’t watch the video in time and realized that the first day of the Jeonju trip was the 2 week deadline for one of the seminar videos I had yet to watch. I ended up spending roughly 2 hours in Jeonju watching the video and writing the paper. So I am a little disappointed in myself and how I managed my time prior to Jeonju. I think for me, it was just a learning experience. I could have watched it 2 days earlier while I was in Seoul so then we could explore Jeonju more, since I can get to places around Seoul easier than places in Jeonju. While unforetunate, I still had a lot of fun while I was there!
The traditional style hotel was super awesome and the heated floors felt awesome when everyone got in at night, however, we think the setting was too high because in the middle of the night it was extremely hot and the next morning when everyone was putting away their bedding we were all complaining of the floor being too hot to stand on. Breakfast was a small affair and then we headed off for paper making. The first was making paper crafts, we got to decorate a small box using rice glue and colored paper before heading over to a museum to see the old ways of making paper and to try our own hand at it.
Next was lunch and seeing another temple, this one much bigger. It was super awesome and we got to see a national treasure of Korea among others. It was super cool and when we went there were actually monks inside the main building. We think they were performing some kind of ceremony, but since we couldn’t go in, we don’t know for sure. I also had a sip of the mountain spring water here and it was super refreshing too. Maybe we’ll go back during Buddha’s birthday (a national holiday in May) beccause they said that it’s a big celebration and there are a lot of lanterns around the grounds which makes it extremely pretty.
Then it was a trip back to Yonsei with a rest stop and more food before we all went vack and crashed onto our beds. As Anne said about the beds, “Ah! I’ve missed you. And you’re not burning my face off.”