This started out rather lamely, but ended surprisingly well. Yvonne and I got up early and headed to Noksapyeong for coffee at the new coffee-shop that has inexplicably been placed inside the fare-gates. I swear, sometimes I wonder about the marketing guys here.
But the coffee was good (as it gets) and cheap, and the Noksapyeong subway station is an amazing thing. It is three stories high with a glass geodesic dome on the surface, and could easily handle 20 times the traffic it handles on an average day. You look at it and wonder what the designers were expecting when they built it.
My only theory is that it is right next to Yongsan Army base, which will go away in a couple of years. At that point Seoul will have an enormous chunk of empty property in downtown (northern) Seoul, and they may be planning something grand.
Anyway, we eventually headed off to the COEX and got to the fair. It was in two rooms, and the first room was rather uninspiring. Basically a bunch of kids books, and nothing that could fairly earn the title “international.”
The second room was better, with reps from Saudi Arabia, The Philippines, the US, Japan, etc.. Nothing that I was personally interested in, but undeniably international. Later, talking to a man who has had a booth at this convention for many years, I heard that the global economic splash had greatly reduced the number of North American and European booths. Surely something the organizers cannot be held accountable for except, perhaps, on Dave's ESL Cafe.
I quickly canvassed the entire place and was kind of unimpressed, but when I went back and spent more time (duh!) it turned out much better than I had initially judged. The Korean Literature Translation Institute was there, with many books I have read or own, and my one attempt to communicate with the woman running the booth was so traumatizing that she basically ran to hide.
Only to return in about 10 minutes with a raft of free stuff in English, which included 3 copies a seasonal magazine on translation, an annual (this is the first one) book of “new” Korean fiction and poetry translated by the KLTI, and a book listing ALL known translations of Korean fiction from 1980 to the present. The last thing will be very useful for my kiddies who are studying the penetration of Korean literature in the West, in Europe this summer. There is also an associated website.
On a more amusing note, the folks from Urantia were at the conference. I imagine they were downplaying, somewhat, their argument that people with blue-eyes are descended from the “smarter” planet of space aliens from which we all originated.
Some Dao-ists (a kind of splinter sect of them, to be exact) were there, and I spent some time talking to a Korean guy with amazingly perfect English. Obviously, he would like to convert me, but there also seems to be some slight chance that he will have editing work for me. As I had been researching religious structures in Asia for an upcoming photo-essay, I was able to gracefully drop into the conversation the question, “oh, there’s an important Daoist temple in Manila, isn’t there?” This surprised him and I got pulled into the booth for a one-on-one chat that I hope will lead to some work, or even just an introduction to the Daoists in the Philippines. He also gave me a bilingual copy of “The Cosmic Autumn Approaches” which is some kind of distillation of their essential doctrine of Millenial Daoism.
How those two thoughts are supposed to work together is unclear to me, but if I attend their workshop, I am sure they will lay it out for me.
Not quite as ironically amusing as the Cool Urantian Dressing mentioned above, but still funny, was the 'save the world' poster that was apparently begging the polar bears to go all Terry Schavio, dye their fur, or.. well do something to the planet that ends with "ave"
pave (no, wait, not likely with the hippie thing going on here)
The idea of the confused and mismanaged (and apparently doomed) whitey-bears was amusing to me, but I was frankly terrified by the little insert on the lower left (click on it an a bigger version will magically appear by the magic of the intarweb's magical magic) in which a bird has clearly pulled the thumb-tip off of its owner, and is consuming said delicacy whilst still perched on the owners immobile wrist.
The only way this could be possibly happen is if du Maurier/Hitchcock's ugly avian fantasy had come true and the owner was already deceased, eyeballs an appetizer for the hideous ruler-seagulls of the aerial future.
Yeah well, who cares about other people?
The point here is that the books and magazines I snatched up for free (beyond what I scored by obviously being white, both Yvonne and I looted the free magazines at the US Embassy exhibit) will go into filling that bookcase in my school office, so the kiddies think I am a legit instructor.
Back home to a chill night with Yvonne and a trip to see Star Trek this morning...